From retail workers and restaurant staff to first responders and surgeons, many jobs require standing for long periods of time. It’s common for people to compensate in order to reduce the pain that comes with standing, but these techniques aren’t always healthy. Stepping on a tennis ball or cracking your back may only provide temporary relief, and then the pain returns shortly thereafter.
Standing for lengthy periods can cause poor circulation, especially in the lower legs and feet. This is why it’s quite common for people who stand for many hours at a time to develop varicose veins. Additionally, too much time on your feet, especially without the proper shoes, can increase the risk of joint inflammation. Standing up reduces blood flow to the muscles in the legs, neck, and back, which leads to general pain and discomfort.
In order to protect the body and counteract the general pain from standing, it can be beneficial to incorporate stretches and mobility exercises into your day. Many health experts find that practicing the stretches in this article on a daily basis can help improve mobility, flexibility, and range of motion. These stretches may also alleviate muscle aches, especially in the legs and back. The following exercises are described in detail and we hope they come to your aid, should you need relief from standing.
Hip Flexor Stretch
When you relieve tension in the hip flexors and allow them to open up, your postural muscles can function more efficiently. Tight hip flexors can increase the risk of low back, hip, and leg pain. To start the stretch, lower your right knee down to the ground and place the left foot in front of you with your heel planted firmly. If you need support, add a little cushion under your right knee. Slowly lunge forward while simultaneously tucking your pelvis, drawing the tailbone down to the floor. You should feel a stretch along the front of your right hip. You can remain here, or you can deepen the stretch by extending your right arm overhead and reaching it to your left side. Hold this position for 10 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
Alternating Dynamic Hamstring Stretch
Dynamic stretches are active movements that involve joints and muscles going through a full range of motion. This stretch pairs dynamic stretching with upper body and trunk mobility, helping to increase hamstring flexibility. Stand straight with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. After extending both arms out to the sides, reach your right arm down toward your left foot, keeping the knees as straight as possible. The goal is to hinge at the hips and avoid rounding your back. Pause for a moment when you touch your right foot and then return to an upright position. Reach your left hand toward your right foot in the same motion. Continue alternating until you complete 10 per side.
Standing Quadratus Lumborum Stretch
The quadratus lumborum is a pair of muscles located on either side of the lower spine. They are involved with sitting, standing, walking, and other movements. To reduce pain while standing, it’s important to stretch them! Start standing straight up with your feet together about two or three feet from a wall. The wall should be to the side of you, not behind you. Cross your right leg over your left leg and extend your arms above your head. Reach both arms over your head toward the wall and sway your hips out away from the wall slightly. Let your head rest on your left arm gently and hold the position for 30 seconds. Breathe deeply throughout the stretch and then repeat on the opposite side.
3-Way Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is a gentle stretch that allows the body to relax, while simultaneously addressing mobility and flexibility issues. Kneel on the floor with the tops of your feet on the ground. As you inhale, pause for a moment before exhaling and lowering your torso to the floor. Extend your arms out in front of you and rest your forehead on the floor. Relax the shoulders and spread your fingertips. Hold this pose for 30-60 seconds. Walk your hands to the right until you feel a stretch in the lower part of the left side of your back. Remain here for 30-60 seconds before repeating on the right side.