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Question

When e.g. working in surgery, one has to stand for a very long time. I'm sure everyone has been through a similar experience.

After some time, my back usually starts to feel weird and I have the urge of stretching my lower back. @Omu explained the symptom very well in a comment. This also occurs for me when walking for a very long time.

As @bertieb pointed out, this is called paraesthesia. I'm talking about this part (the red colour is just to highlight the area I'm talking about): enter image description here

Furthermore, I have heard but not experienced that there can be circulation problems.

I have heard that compression stockings would alleviate the latter issue. How should one deal with standing up a long time?


Appendices

I feel like this is a general issue that many people have. Go see your doctor might not be a great answer as a) I don't want to bother my doctor with issues of no concern and b) there must be ways other deal with it.

Note: Usually, personal experience is not considered a reliable source. In this particular case, I think answers with detailed description what procedure was used and why procedure x helped relating to extensive personal experience should be allowed. However, I do not want to set a precedent and am open to suggestion by mods. Obviously, medical reasons will be favoured.

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    I get this pain in that red area when I walk for very long periods (hours), I noticed though that if make an effort to keep my back more straight I don't get the pain, I have to be conscious about it though, kinda remind myself all the time to keep my back straight – Omu Mar 29 '17 at 17:24
  • I'm still looking for a good answer, berthieb does not really answer my question to a great extend as it i not pain I'm talking about. It would be also great if one could include prevention methods as well! – Narusan Mar 30 '17 at 5:14
  • make sure you don't have "anterior pelvic tilt" (d183r4hu5epjep.cloudfront.net/articles/…), and work on it if you do – Omu Mar 30 '17 at 14:42
  • @Omu I don't, it's actually more like forward head, although I usually have a fairly good posture. – Narusan Mar 30 '17 at 14:49
  • I had a very small tilt, barely noticeable, but after hours of walking, it was giving me pain; this guy explains it well: youtube.com/watch?v=dByKRcIi160 – Omu Apr 3 '17 at 17:17
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+50

How can I deal with standing for long periods?

I have an odd sensation, like pins and needles

The technical name for that kind of altered sensation is paraesthesia. It can have a number of causes; so much so that if you are getting this and it's bothering you the usual response applies: go and seek medical advice.

On the other hand, if you are still a bit reticent and want to try other things first, there are a number of options.

Stand right!

Postural problems can cause nerve compression. An anterior pelvic tilt is relatively common:

(credit: Anonymous - Posture & Foundation Garments, public domain)

Posterior pelvic tilt can happen too:

posterior tilt

(credit: SPSC Crossfit)

So if you are standing for long periods, make sure your posture is good:

  • head level (not forward)
  • chin parallel to ground
  • chest high
  • shoulders level and relaxed
  • abdomen flat, held up and in
  • lower back flat and tucked under
  • legs straight, knees relaxed
  • feet parallel, toes forward

Check your footwear

Related to the above, differences in footwear may affect posture (NB, small n). Interestingly, high-heels may not be as bad as many think in this area.

The main point is to wear relatively 'neutral' footwear where possible; and support/take account of high/fallen arches if appropriate.

Take Breaks / Exercise

If you are able to take a break to sit down for a while, or at least move in a way that is different to how you stand, this movement can grant some relief.

Squats (supported by a wall if needed), simple weight transfers - either leg-to-leg, or forefoot-to-hindfood - and pelvic tilting exercises can assist.

This may be a point to ask a physiotherapist for advice (as below), as it is easier for someone else to observe your posture and where the sensation is; then make recommendations based on that!

Other Options

Ask for Help

I don't want to bother my doctor with issues of no concern

As a general point: if something is causing you issues, then it is of concern. You don't have to have to be terribly unwell to see a doctor! I understand where you are coming from, but if you are suffering as a result of something it may be worth running it past them.

Alternatively, you could consult a physiotherapist for their opinion and suggestions for exercise. Here, it is possible to self-refer to physios (although there was a significant wait last time I used that service); but there are usually reasonably-priced private options too.

Use a Foam Roller

Since you asked for suggestions backed by personal experience and not just the usual sources, I would be remiss in not putting this forward. Anecdotally (n=3), using a foam roller has helped and given relief for back stiffness (with its attendant altered sensation) and pain. The ns in this case are myself, my father, and a close family friend.

They are fairly simple things in and of themselves:

foam roller (credit: self)

and decent relief can be achieved by lying perpendicularly on top of them positioned near your power back, and rolling back and forth. More info can be found elsewhere.

Disclaimer: This is highly anecdotal and I haven't yet found good sources to back them up- but lots of (trendy) health mags like them. That might be a positive or a negative thing, depending on your perspective.

Further Disclaimer

If you start having significant other issues, like numbness, issues with continence, severe pain, weight loss or other red flag symptoms; definitely see a doctor!


Further reading:


(note, this was written focusing on back pain which is not as relevant to OP, it is left in for others who find this answer who do have back pain)

Actually, I have pack pain too...

I feel like this is a general issue that many people have.

You are so right.

Back pain is a huge and varied subject. It is extremely common, and as such has a big impact on a great number of individuals but also society writ large- Medline claims that it is a condition "affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives". UK statistics are similar.

Given the problem you are having, you probably already knew that. You probably also know some of the recommendations for back pain, but they are worth restating, in brief:

  • keep active; in general mobility helps back pain more than immobility
  • try exercises geared towards back pain
  • anti-inflammatory painkillers may help; but if you have stomach issues or are going to be taking them longer-term the you definitely should have a conversation with your doctor about that
  • hot and cold compression packs can give relief

These ones are summarised from the NHS page on back pain; but similar advice is available elsewhere.

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    Ah, my bad; on closer inspection you did say about that sensation. Is it like pins-and-needles? Any numbness? – bertieb Mar 28 '17 at 21:25
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    It's like pins and needles but painless. Not numb at all – Narusan Mar 28 '17 at 21:25
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    I agree to en extent- part of the reason it is worth going is because there can be other, less benign causes. That said, my advice was to go seek expert opinion if it bothers you or is causing suffering in some way :) Beyond some exercises - basically, stretches - I'm not sure what else to offer. Even if you are standing, it is usually possible to move about some- what works for pain may also work for paraesthesia! – bertieb Mar 28 '17 at 22:08
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    @Narusan I have updated this answer to reflect the main focus of your question- on the sensation you get (there is still some overlap as we are still talking about the back). Apologies again for the confusion on my part; hopefully this addresses your issue more directly. – bertieb Mar 31 '17 at 12:35
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    @Mods: as noted, I left in the section on back pain as there may be those coming from eg a Google search who have an altered sensation with back pain; so it may be relevant given the wider context. If it's off-topic or distracting I can remove, of course. – bertieb Mar 31 '17 at 12:36

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