Whether you work in an office or on a factory floor, your job likely dictates how much sitting and standing you do on a regular basis.
We’ve all read the news about the dangers of sitting and how it increases the risk for chronic issues such as heart disease and diabetes. Some of the same issues that make sitting for long periods of time unhealthy also apply to standing too long.
Varicose veins are another medical condition that can develop when veins no longer sufficiently send blood from the legs back to the heart. Our veins have valves that enable the blood to flow forward toward the heart, but those valves can become damaged and weakened over time.
Damaged and weakened valves result in blood pooling in the legs, and sitting and standing too long helps gravity push that blood further down in the body. That’s when we increase our risks for serious, life-threatening conditions such as blood clots and deep vein thrombosis.
Which professions stand and sit the most?
Sitting and standing can take a toll on the body, but maybe it wasn’t your first concern when accepting a job or starting your career.
With it being back-to-school time, it’s a good reminder that elementary, middle and secondary school teachers are on their feet 70 percent of the day, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics. Other jobs that involve standing for most of the day include waiters/waitresses, welders, retail workers, electricians, pharmacists, physical therapists and childcare workers.
On the flip side, IT professionals such as software developers, accountants, insurance sales agents, human resource (HR) managers, lawyers, and mechanical engineers do much more sitting on average during the day.
What can I do?
Just being aware of sitting and standing too long is a good start. If you’re concerned about varicose veins, watch for and track some of the following common symptoms:
- Burning, throbbing or cramping in the legs
- Tired, achy or heavy-feeling legs
- Itchy feelings around the legs
- Skin surface ulcers on the lower legs (only in severe cases)
Movement is really key in breaking up long blocks of sitting and standing while you’re working. Walking around and stretching every 30 minutes is ideal but not always feasible if you’re in a meeting or heads-down on a project. Consider some of these additional tips:
- Prop your feet up on a foot rest or stool to help elevate your legs.
- Stand up and do some calf raises (stand on your tiptoes, release and repeat) or try a few squats.
- Wear compression stockings or socks.
- Ice swollen veins, or alternate a hot compress.
It’s also important continue these best practices at home after work. If you sit for most the day, try not to come home and continue sitting. After standing all day, make sure to elevate your legs when you do sit down. In both cases, maintaining regular exercise and eating a balanced diet can help lower your risk for vein disease and other chronic conditions.
If you’re concerned about painful, achy legs, call us anytime or click here to schedule a free vein screening. You can also hear directly from patients about how our minimally invasive treatments helped their leg pain caused by too much standing and sitting on the job.