Hesperian Health Guides

Sitting or Standing for a Long Time

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HealthWiki > Where Women Have No Doctor > Chapter 26: Work > Sitting or Standing for a Long Time

If you must sit or stand for many hours at work, you may suffer health problems. Sometimes they only show up after months or years. Most of these problems can be prevented.

Health problems

a woman sitting and working at a sewing machine

Back and neck problems. These come from sitting a long time with your back bent or from standing in one place.

Varicose veins, swollen feet, and blood clots in the legs.When you sit or stand for a long time, it is hard for blood to flow easily through your legs, especially with your legs crossed.

  • Take short, fast walks during your break. Also try to walk around the room or at least stretch every hour.
  • If possible, wear socks or hose with support. They should go above the knee.
  • Do each of the exercises described below whenever you feel stiffness or pain, or slump forward. Repeat them 2 or 3 times, taking slow, deep breaths.

Head: Shoulders: Waist and upper body:
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Roll it slowly in a full circle. Move them up and down, roll them forward and backward,and pull your shoulder blades together behind your back. With your back straight, turn from the hip to face the side. You should feel relief in the upper and lower back.
If you sit at work:
  • Use a chair with a straight back—with your head, neck, and shoulders straight. If it feels better, put some rolled cloth or pillows behind you to support your lower back.
  • If necessary, adjust the height of your chair or table to allow you to work in a better position. You can try sitting on a pillow, or putting a desk or table up on blocks.
  • Do not cross your legs at the knees.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing.

This page was updated:17 Apr 2019