I explained in part 1 the problems of standing still on the flow of blood from the lower extremities (legs) up to the heart and how this will lead to compensation mechanisms. There is a way to prevent the body from adopting these bad standing postures and this is all about muscle awareness and selective tightening.
The chain to adopt a good (but static posture) is the following:
A. Plant both feet on the floor and divide weight equally
B. Bend the knee very very slightly
C. Tilt the pelvis backwards (tilt the top of the pelvic bone backwards and the bottom forward)
D. Pull the shoulder blades backwards
E. Tighten the abdominal muscles
F. Stretch the neck (imagine a rope pulling your head upwards
Keep all of these muscles tightened and you will notice that the body is now immobilized. This is a good technique to create muscle awareness and prevent slouching but you will notice that walking is very difficult this way.
I advice to use this when standing still behind a machine or you start to notice back pain due to bad posture.
After a while of doing this you will notice it becomes easier and easier to activate select muscles and create a better posture also when walking.
Weight training (isolation exercises) can help in recognizing and strengthening the muscles responsible for better posture (Abs, Lats, Glutes etc)
Feet anatomy and its influence on standing:
As I mentioned before in Step A. that it is important to plant both feet on the floor and divide weight equally there are 2 possibilities however that this will be hindered: low arch (Flat Feet) and high arch. Both will have a different effect on the ankle joint.
See below picture for an image of the different arches
Before we go into the explanation a short explanation about ligaments:
Ligaments are small tendon like structures and aid with “propriocepsis” (a function that tells the brain how the position of a joint is and aid in subconscious corrections) They are over every moving joint and work kind of the same way as an elastic band, only they are much weaker and are only a warning mechanism. When they get stretched they will recruit the stabilizing muscles to tighten and give the needed stability for prevention of hyperextension.
- Flat feet or overpronation will cause the ankle to collapse inward and also have an effect on the knee which I will illustrate in next picture. This can also be caused by stretched medial ligaments after an accident with fracture or severely sprained ankles. Now they don’t give a warning anymore (or too late) and the ankle will collapse inwards because the ligaments think it’s not needed to recruit the muscles. This now becomes the resting position.
- This is normal arch and intact ligaments where all the downward forces are distributed well over the joints (they go through the middle of the knee and ankle joints).
- Under pronation (tilting to the outside of the foot) and often caused by a high arch. This will also create wrong distribution of forces on the knee.
The before mentioned will work its way up and also create knee problems which below picture illustrates:
A is an overpronated ankle where the downward force falls outside of the knee joint and creates more pressure on the outside of the knee
B is a properly alligned ankle where the downward force (bodyweight when standing) goes through the middle of the knee and the centre of the ankle
C is an underpronated ankle where the downward force falls inside the knee and ankle joint and creating more pressure on the inside of the knee joint
Risk factors of standing still:
As mentioned in part 1 the heart has difficulties pumping the blood from the feet back to the heart due to working against gravity. The body adapted by making one way valves in the veins so that it can flow up but not back again.
They can be worn out however if the muscles are not working together with the body and blood will partially flow back after every contraction. This can create swelling of the veins and is also called varicose veins.
The leg muscles have to be activated to contract and this can be done by walking, bending, contracting the quadriceps muscle while stationary, tip toe-ing and even hopping in place.
This prevents the blood from pooling in the feet and creates the chain effect as mentioned in part 1
So in recap the complications from standing still too long can be:
- Varicose veins
- Swollen feet
- Tingling legs and feet
- Heavy legs and feet
- Cardiovascular problems
- Lower leg and back pain
All of this can be prevented by:
- Posture: as described in part 1
- Awareness: as described in part 2
- Rest: alternate standing with sitting and elevate legs
- Training: as described in part 1
- Shoes: get shoes with sturdy soles so it gives a stable platform to stand on
Or put is as: Doing your “PARTS” will keep your body healthy and going despite your long working or activity schedule!