Your body is designed to move. When you sit too long every day, even a good workout cannot counteract the ill effects. Most adults in the U.S. sit for nine or ten hours each day. This may seriously affect your overall health. When you get enough exercise, your blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides are processed properly. We all know this decreases your risk of obesity and diabetes. Fatty acids then may tend to clog your cardiac arteries because our muscles burn less excess fat due to inactivity.
According to the American College of Cardiology, women who sit for ten hours each day are much more at risk of developing heart disease than women who sit for five hours or less. Other problems that may occur are neck pain, shoulder pain, back problems, weak abdominal muscles and hip problems.
Long–term standing also causes venous insufficiency or venous disease. While standing requires 20 percent more energy than sitting, it can cause veins to overwork, causing weakness. It may also lead to long-term back pain, muscle fatigue and musculoskeletal disorders. Teachers, nurses, hair stylists among many other professions stand for more than five hours each day. Two hours of standing may cause no problems, but with long periods, problems may arise.
Blood, of our lower extremities, needs to flow from the feet back to the heart. The veins in the legs have small valves that help push blood upward against gravity. When you sit or stand for long periods, flow becomes blocked and begins to pool in the veins below. This puts pressure on the veins, causing the valves to weaken.
The most common leg and vein problems are varicose veins and spider veins. While not serious to begin with, they do lead to more serious health issues if left untreated. Prolonged sitting and standing place excessive pressure on your legs, causing veins to stop working properly. The medical term for this condition is venous insufficiency.
According a recent Human Factors article, the strain on the legs and veins from standing too long is often not perceived immediately. This could be avoided if those in ‘long-standing’ professions were able to take regular breaks from standing throughout the day.
For those beginning to develop vein problems, you may have symptoms before the bluish, bulging veins start to show. Common symptoms include:
- A heavy feeling in the lower legs
- Muscle aching and cramping
- Pain that increases after sitting or standing for long periods
- Itching for no apparent reason around on or more vein
- Ulcers or sores that erupt near the ankle and lower leg
- Brown pigmentation on the feet and lower leg
- A rash around the ankles
For you teachers, and others in positions requiring standing long periods, compression stockings can help promote healthy blood flow back to the heart. While more difficult, alternating weight bearing from leg to leg, intermittent ankle flexing and even short periods of ankle/lower leg elevation may help control damage to vein valves.
At Minnesota Vein Center, we offer the full realm of the non-invasive treatments available for varicose veins, venous insufficiency and spider veins. You may be asked to wear compression stockings, elevate your feet when sitting and to get regular exercise. During a consultation with our specialist, you may have your veins evaluated, condition diagnosed and treatment may be recommended. Contact us today to schedule your appointment to learn more and to visit us.