Have you ever had back pain from standing too long? If so, you will know how painful and debilitating it can be. This kind of back pain often crops up when someone who is normally sedentary spends an unusually long time on their feet, such as at a festival or some other big day out. It is also common among retail workers who stand every day, especially if their uniform includes less than ideal footwear.
How to Cope with Back Pain from Standing Too Long
If you are suffering from back pain from standing too long, then the first thing that you should do is try to rest and relax. Sometimes, simply sitting down for a while will reduce the pain significantly because it means you are putting less stress on your spine.1
Anti-inflammatory painkillers can help with back pain that is muscle-related, although there can be side-effects associated with them, especially for those who use them on a regular basis. Some people find that essential oils make a good addition to their pain-relief strategy, on top of rest, and exercises prescribed by a physiotherapist. Studies show that aromatherapy can help to reduce the perception of many types of pain.2
For example, ginger has been found to be helpful for muscle pain, and is a major component of our Relieve blend (popular with those who have inflammatory pain issues), as well as the Vibrant blend, which is a good choice for people who are busy and need energy to help them when they’re on their feet all day!3
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The key to managing acute back pain is staying mobile while stopping the kind of activity that caused the pain, and avoiding anything that might make it worse.
Healthy Movement Helps
As strange as it might sound, if you are experiencing back pain from standing too long, you may find that other forms of movement could help you. One of the reasons that people experience back pain when they are on their feet all day is that they get tired and adopt poor posture. Most people with back pain should be able to recover with rest and with effective self-care.4
A major part of that self-care is improving your posture and mobility and avoiding positions that make the pain worse. Yoga is a useful treatment for back pain because it helps to both stretch and strengthen the muscles that support the spine.
It is important, however, that you practice yoga under the supervision of a qualified instructor. Yoga is a common cause of injury for older people, in part because the movements can be damaging if they are attempted too quickly or without proper form. The exercises can have a protective effect, however, if they are done slowly and carefully, and without attempting to push too hard into a stretch.5
Preventing Back Pain
If you find that you regularly experience back pain from standing too long, then you should look at your posture and your footwear, as well as any bags that you are carrying. Back pain is more likely to occur if you stand for more than two hours per day while at work. The longer that you stand, the more important things like posture, and taking breaks, become.6
If you experience back pain from standing too long, then you should start resting immediately. The longer you try to push through the pain, the more likely you are to have lasting damage. Applying heat or cold compresses can help to reduce the pain you are feeling; when the pain subsides you can try gentle stretches or careful movement to stop yourself from seizing up.7
In the long term, remember the following:
- Wear good quality flat footwear that supports you well
- Try to avoid standing with your weight biased towards one leg
- Avoid leaning for long periods of time
- Keep an upright posture with your spine neutral
- If you are working a till or production line, don’t stoop over to reach things
- Avoid repeated twisting and bending when possible
- When picking up heavy objects, lift with your legs, not with your back
- Avoid wearing heavy messenger bags that may put pressure on your spine unevenly
- If you wear a backpack, use both straps so that weight is distributed evenly
- Stretch and get regular exercise to keep your muscles strong and limber
Most back pain should subside quickly. If you notice other related symptoms, such as finding it hard to pass urine or experiencing numbness or tingling, especially in the lower body or genitals, then you should seek advice immediately. If you experience recurring back pain and your job involves a lot of standing you may want to discuss modifications to your working environment with your employer, to reduce the risk of there being lasting damage to your back.
Photo credits: G-StockStudio/shutterstock.com,