Taking a Stand
Assembly line workers, cashiers, and other workers who must stand or walk all day face certain health risks. “The pressure of standing or walking for eight hours a day can permanently affect the feet, knees, and back,” explains M W, M.D., “especially when the surface offers no cushioning–like concrete, tile, or linoleum.” Dr. W is medical director of OccNet, the occupational health service of the Health Alliance.
There are a few ways you can lessen the stress on your lower body. “One inexpensive solution is shoe insoles,” says Dr. W. A study conducted by physical therapists at the American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts, revealed that shoe inserts relieved the pain of many postal workers during the peak holiday season. The study also concluded that orthopedic insoles lasted longer and cushioned better than did those bought over the counter. Dr. W adds that “people who need to walk or stand much of the day should wear decent quality, flat shoes with built-in arch support.” Poorly fitted shoes or shoes with heels significantly increase pressure on the feet and contribute to back and leg pain.
Where possible, cushioned floor mats help. They not only absorb the stress of standing or walking, but also help prevent slips and falls. Mats that are manufactured with holes throughout to allow spills to seep through are particularly effective. While employers may not be able to cover the whole floor with cushioned mats, it may be possible to place mats in individual workstation areas. These cushioned pads can be inexpensive or more costly, depending on the material, which ranges from cushioned linoleum and carpeting to anti-vibration and slip-resistant flooring.
In a work area where a stool is possible, shifting from standing to perching, or even leaning against a stool is very helpful.The key is to prevent stress and injury to the lower half of the body before long hours on the job make them likely.
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