In recent years researchers have made a case that sitting for prolonged periods is harmful to your health. Some have claimed it is as dangerous as smoking.
But being on your feet all day might not be so healthy either. A team of international researchers conducted a small study of men and women who worked on their feet for most of each day.
The study's purpose was to determine if there were any long-term fatigue effects in the lower limbs associated with standing work. The researchers attempted to determine if there were any possible age or gender influences as well.
“The progressive accumulation of muscle fatigue effects is assumed to lead to musculoskeletal disorders, as fatigue generated by sustained low-level exertions exhibits long-lasting effects,” the authors write. “However, these effects have received little attention in the lower limbs.”
The study had 14 men and 12 women from two different age groups simulate standing work for five hours. The five hours included several five minute seated rest breaks and a 30 minute lunch, simulating a work day in a retail environment.
The researchers checked for muscle fatigue through electrically induced muscle twitches (which were used to measure muscle twitch force [MTF]), postural stability, and subjective evaluation of discomfort.
The results showed a significant fatigue effect after standing work that persisted beyond 30 min after the end of the workday. Subjective evaluations of discomfort indicated a significant increase in perception of fatigue immediately after the end of standing work. Age and gender didn't seem to make much difference.
The authors of the study conclude that work activities that require employees to stand for long periods of time are likely to contribute to lower-extremity and/or back disorders.
An unrelated study by the American Society of Anesthesiologists might contain some good news for people who spend their day standing and then suffer from back and leg pain. The study shows that patients who received a novel high frequency form of spinal cord stimulation (SCS) therapy enjoyed significant and long-term relief from both chronic back and leg pain.
“Chronic back and leg pain have long been considered difficult to treat and current pain relief options such as opioids have limited effectiveness and commonly known side effects,” said lead author Dr. Leonardo Kapural, of Wake Forest University. “Given the prevalence of chronic pain, high frequency SCS is an exciting advance for our patients.”
SCS is a fairly common therapy that administers electric pulses to the spinal cord through a small device implanted under the skin. The new treatment, called HF10 therapy, uses proprietary high frequency pulses of 10,000 Hz, compared to traditional SCS which uses frequencies of 40 to 60 Hz.