Is your job a stand-only one?   Any prolonged position can hurt your body, and standing is no exception.  The best position is standing in a variety of ways, where you equally distribute loads on different parts of the body but causes no physical strain.  There is no single, ideal body position for several hours of remaining upright while working.

 Workers often sit or stand for long periods of time, for example:   salesperson, machine operator, assembly-line worker, bank teller, store clerk, nurse, cooks, and waitresses.  They suffer many discomforts, such as muscular fatigue, low back pain, sore feet, or stiffness in the shoulders and neck. 

Excessive standing also causes the joints in the spine, hips, knees and feet to become temporarily locked.  This immobility can later lead to rheumatic diseases due to degenerative damage to the tendons and ligaments.  Those whose jobs require standing most of the time, should take frequent breaks and do some walking around the workplace to exercise their joints from being in the same position.  Stretching before and after work could help. If you spend most of your time at work standing, here are some tips you can do to improve your posture and reduce the ill effects: 

Proper position

If you work in a standing position, always face what you’re working on, keeping your body close to the work.  Adjust the workspace so that you have enough space to change positions. Use a foot rail or portable footrest to shift your body weight from both legs to one or the other leg. Use a seat whenever possible while working, or at least during rest breaks. Avoid over-reaching behind or above the shoulder line, or beyond the point of what is comfortable. Instead of reaching, shift your feet to face the object.  If you must stand to work, take frequent rest breaks.  Stretching through the day will relax your muscles. Bank tellers or convenience store clerks could have a stool located behind them, in order to sit while not attending to a customer.

Proper standing surface

The floor you stand on also greatly affects your level of comfort. Wooden, cork or rubber-covered floors are better than concrete or metal, but if you must stand on hard floors, stand on mats. Floor mats should have slanted edges to help prevent tripping. They must be dense enough to cushion the feet, but not too thick. Too much cushioning, from thick foam-rubber mats, for example, can cause fatigue and increase the hazard of tripping.

Workstation set up

Any stand-up workstation should be adjusted according to your height, using elbow height as the guide. For example, precision work, such as writing or electronic assembly, requires a work surface that’s 5 cm above elbow height; your elbows should be supported. Light work, such as assembly-line or mechanical jobs, require a work surface that is 5 to 10 cm below elbow height. Heavy work, demanding downward forces, requires a surface that is 20 to 40 cm below elbow height.

Wear Comfortable footwear

If your feet hurt, your legs, back and hips will also hurt.  The comfort of your feet depends largely on your footwear. Choose footwear that accommodates the hazards in your workplace. Your shoes should be as wide as your feet, leaving room to move your toes. They should have arch supports to prevent flattening of the feet, and a heel with a firm grip to prevent slipping.  Lace-up shoes are best, because they allow you to tighten the instep of your footwear, keeping your foot from slipping inside the shoe or boot. The footwear should have heels that are not flat, but are no higher than 5 cm (2 inches). Wear padding under the tongue if you suffer from tenderness over the bones at the top of the foot. And if you work on a metal or cement floor, cushion your foot with a shock-absorbing insole.

Many professional women –  attorneys, legislative employees, and others are required to dress for the job, including dress shoes, some with very high heels. The only advice to give them is to wear a pair of walking shoes while climbing up stairs or walking to their jobs, and don the heels once their day at work actually begins. Years later, they will possibly pay the price for standing all day in 4-5″ heels (to be fashionable).

Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety

Note: Texas America Safety Company recommends using posters to promote ergonomic safety for those workers who have to stand or sit in the same position all day.