Why Does Standing Make You More Sore Than Walking?

You know that physical activity makes your muscles sore, so why does standing seem to make you more sore than walking?

I was at a rally and march over the weekend here in Atlanta, and this was a hot topic. While we werelistening to speakers in the spotwhere we first gathered, everyone’s feet, legs and backs were getting stiff and sore. As soon as we started walking the route, though, we began to feel better. Why is it so hard to stand in one place? I dug into this topic a bit, to seewhat happens to our bodies when we stand versus when we move around.

What Happens When You’re Standing Still

It turns out there isn’t much stillness happening when we ‘stand still.’ A Gizmodo article explains that when we stand, we are actually swaying ever-so-slightly in order to stay upright. Unlike when you’re walking or even running,your muscles get no break from these small contractions. Ourcalves, for example, were constantly working as we stood at thatSunday afternoon rally.

Walking, on the other hand, mixes things up. When youshift your weight to your right leg, your left leg gets a quick break.You’re also using a variety ofmuscle sets, rather thanputting constant pressure on a few, like you do when you stand still.

Circulation is another factor that makesstanding harder on your body than walking. When you walk, your heartrate goes up, which keeps blood and lymph fluids circulating.Standing, on the other hand, doesn’t raise your heartrate, so those fluids succumb to gravity, pooling in your feet and lower legs. This reduced circulation means that less oxygen is getting to your muscles, which causessoreness.

What about standing desks?

Prolonged standing causes more than sore muscles. Back in 2011, when standing desks were firstgetting popular, Time talked toergonomics expert Alan Hedge, who warned that going from a traditional desk to standing all day is risky.

Hedge explained that standing all daystrains your circulatory system. It actuallyincreases your risk ofcarotid atherosclerosis and varicose veins. Standing at a computer all day also increases your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, because you extend your wrists differently when you’re using a keyboard while standing.

Instead of a standing desk, Hedge recommends making your workstation as ergonomic as possible and taking frequent breaks to stand or walk. Grab a coffee, do a quick stretch, then get back to your desk.

Coping with Prolonged Standing

Not everyone has the option to switch toa seated desk or theability to take breaks every 20 minutes. If you stand all day for work, there are some ways to make it easier on your body. According to Healthline:

  • Choose comfortable shoes, and make sure they fit your properly. The right shoes help support good posture and give you the arch support that your feet need.
  • Sneak in a stretch when you can. Even a quick stretch can help get your circulation going and give you some relief.
  • Practice RICE when you get home. If your legs or feet are sore after standing all day, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation are your friends.

WebMD suggeststhat if you’re going to be standing for a prolonged period, you shouldtake breaks and try to change position every 30 minutes.

So, wasthat hour I spent standing causing long-term damage to my health? Probably not. I think the take-away here is that, like most things, standing isfine in moderation. What I noticed at the rally is that people were naturally taking steps togive their muscles a break from the prolonged standing. People would stand on one foot, then the other. They’d switch to a squatting position or idly rotate their ankles. Some people wandered a bitthrough the crowd. They were all unconsciously takingexpert advice on relieving the pain from prolonged standing, just by listening to their bodies.

Related at Care2

You know that physical activity makes your muscles sore, so why does standing seem to make you more sore than walking?

All images via Thinkstock.

63 comments

Philippa P
Philippa P3 months ago

Thanks.

SEND
william Miller
william Miller4 months ago

thanks

SEND
Leanne K
Leanne K4 months ago

Ive never thought of it along those lines. Thanks!

SEND
Leanne K
Leanne K4 months ago

Always have a good bed and a good pair of shoes - when youre not in one, youre in the other!

SEND
Bronwyn B
Bronwyn B4 months ago

Good article - thankyou for the information and comments on standing desks.

SEND
Elena P
Elena P4 months ago

Thank you

SEND
Elena P
Elena P4 months ago

Thank you

SEND
Clare O
Clare O4 months ago

Glad you had a good time in the crowd.

SEND
Clare O
Clare O4 months ago

Horse not only have four legs to help them balance while standing and sleeping, they have suspensor tendons which lock in place to stop them falling.

SEND
Clare O'Beara
Clare O4 months ago

Thanks, interesting. So standing desks are not great? What about treadmill desks? I think mixing and moving is ideal.

SEND