Having a job that requires standing for extensive periods of time could spell bad news for your veins.
A typical full-time job usually consists of at least 40 hours of work each week, if not more. That kind of commitment can have a surprising toll not just on your energy levels, but other parts of your body as well. There have been plenty of articles warning us of the perils of sitting all day, which have pushed many in the working world to adopt standing desks. But as it turns out, standing for most of the day can also have serious consequences for your body — specifically, for your legs.
The Risks of Standing
Standing all day at work can be unpleasant for obvious reasons. At the end of the day, you likely won’t be surprised to find yourself with some bothersome aches and pains. But you may be surprised to learn that you’re also potentially putting yourself at a higher risk of developing varicose veins and other vein-related issues.
This risk doesn’t apply to everyone — doctors at the Vein Directory have noted that some people spend their entire lives on their feet and never end up with abnormal veins. But the dangers remain significant, and it’s important to be aware of the traits and characteristics that make one susceptible to these vein-related conditions. For instance, while some doctors say the sole act of standing won’t create varicose veins, those with a family history of varicose or spider veins are particularly at risk if they use a standing desk or are otherwise on their feet all day.
Standing all the time won’t just put you at risk for varicose veins. It can also significantly increase your risk of carotid atherosclerosis, according to a TIME interview with Alan Hedge, director of Cornell University’s Human Factors and Ergonomics research and teaching programs.
“Standing to work has long known to be problematic. It is more tiring, it dramatically increases the risks of carotid atherosclerosis (ninefold) because of the additional load on the circulatory system, and it also increases the risks of varicose veins, he says. “So standing all day is unhealthy.”
A Solution Could Be Another Problem
The irony is that, thanks to the rising popularity of standing desks, you don’t even have to be in the service industry, construction industry, or another laborious job sector to suffer from the symptoms of excessive standing. Though they may seem useful in that they prevent you from sitting all day, standing desks can make you stand too much on the job, even in an office setting.
What’s more, these trendy office implements can also decrease fine motor skills and increase the risk of carpal tunnel due to the additional wrist extension that the standing position requires. Even those who use standing desks have been shown to go back to sitting the majority of the time after about a month.
Balance in Everything
While we know that standing all day poses a risk to healthy veins, that doesn’t mean it’s time to stay sedentary all day. Sitting can also facilitate the formation of varicose veins, and there’s extensive research to back up a whole host of health risks that a stationary, seated life can bring.
The key to healthy, blemish-free legs is to find a consistent balance between standing and sitting, so you’re not doing one of them for too long. If you’re mostly sitting at work, consider taking small breaks so you can walk around and stretch your legs. It could be as simple as walking slightly further to and from work each day, or taking the stairs once in awhile. If your job keeps you standing most of the time, remember to put your feet up on breaks.
Ultimately, the best way to modify your behavior for optimal vein health is to consult your doctor. And if you’re already seeing symptoms of varicose veins, speaking with a vein specialist can be an important next step.
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