The Risks of Working Standing Up

Whether you are a cashier or a waiter in a restaurant, these professional activities require you to stand for several hours at a time. How do you avoid back pain? Advice from a specialist.

As recognized by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), a protracted standing and semi-immobile position causes work-related musculoskeletal injuries in the long-term. “Many clients consult me for back and leg pain because their weight is static for too long and placed on only one leg,” says Ann-Elizabeth Bernard, physical rehabilitation and massage therapist at Axo Physio Val-Bélair.

Be aware of your body

The standing position, including not having the opportunity to sit down if needed, is one of the most detrimental to workers’ health, since the effort required is not obvious and does not produce visible consequences in the short term.

The therapist explains, “the pain is minimized by the workers themselves, especially by men.” Yet it remains an important physiological signal, a warning sign of damage that can take a long time to repair. “Hence the importance of listening to your body, being attentive to these clues and not underestimating the effects of uncomfortable gestures and positions,” adds Ann-Elizabeth Bernard. 

Take control of your posture

“It’s important to move,” despite the nature of the activity that forces you stand on the spot. “Take a dozen steps regularly, stretch to relax your muscles, exercise with short leg bends to avoid leaving your knees hyperextended,” advises the therapist. “A cashier can raise one foot, then the other, on a step stool. This helps to reduce the weight of gravity and therefore to relax the tensions in the lower back,” continues the specialist.

Think about movements before doing them

Working standing up for a long time, but while moving, such as is done by movers, baggage handlers or waiters, does not prevent taking other essential precautions. According to Ann-Elizabeth Bernard, “80% of our customers with workplace injuries suffer low back pain due to bad repetitive movements.” Thinking about these gestures before doing them lets you adopt appropriate postures, such as flexing the knees and keeping your back straight while lifting a load, or relaxing your body from being taut from stress. “There are also short and simple exercises to strengthen the abdominal muscles, to stabilize the lumbar spine,” says the therapist. 

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