Summer is a fantastic time to be here in the Algarve. Nearly every day, after having enjoyed a day at the beach, you are offered a special evening with music festivals and all kinds of fairs and special events and activities. It often means that you will have to be in a standing position for a prolonged period.
If you are walking or dancing, that is good, but if you are standing still, it has a more negative impact on the pressure that builds up in you lower-back area.
Here are a few tips to avoid hurting while you are attending your favourite show.
Standing still for more than 30 minutes can be sufficient to create some discomfort and pain in your back. It is mainly due to increased pressure building in the lower back as you are not moving, and it might also be due to decreased circulation of blood through your legs and back muscles.
If you start feeling pain after only 10 minutes of standing, you should consult a chiropractor and get a thorough evaluation done to determine the cause of your spinal problem. That is also the case if you feel a sharp pain radiating to your buttocks or your legs.
This is how our bodies react to a prolonged static posture:
1. Muscle tension – Standing in one position leads to muscle fatigue because it overloads a few muscles. When you stand, your legs are constantly under pressure. Muscles in your calves must make small adjustments to keep your balance, which tires your legs out. When you walk, the burden is distributed across a greater number of muscle groups, including those in your core, thighs, calves, buttocks, and even your arms.
2. Circulation – Standing still for long periods reduces blood flow to your muscles. Your heart cannot pump blood very efficiently from your feet back up the length of your body while you’re standing still, which is why standing may lead to swelling in your feet and lower legs. When you walk, muscle contractions help your heart to pump more effectively.
3. Footwear – When you stand, your body weight tends to rest on the balls and heels of your feet, with no relief. When you walk, the weight is distributed to different parts of your feet. If you stand on hard surfaces and you don’t have proper footwear (hint: heels are not a good idea), it can make your pain much worse. Proper footwear is essential when you face long hours of standing.
4. Poor fitness and excess weight – Obviously, these will aggravate lower back pain while and after standing.
5. Bad posture – Standing often leads to poor posture. As a result, the shoulders slouch forward and the pelvis is pushed into a more posterior (backward) position, increasing the lumbar curve and putting more pressure on the surrounding soft tissues, nerves and joints causing discomfort and pain.
Here are a few tips that will help you stand more comfortably:
■ Choose the use of a backpack to carry your belongings instead of a heavy bag or purse. Make sure you carry the backpack close to the body with the two straps on your shoulders.
■ As a general good habit, drink plenty of water. Dehydration contributes to muscle fatigue since it creates ion loss and proper ion balance is essential to proper muscle function.
Transfer your weight
This is something you can do to help standing without developing back pain; transfer the weight of your body from one side to the other. This can be done by simply bending one knee then the other. The knee that is bent will take your weight and take the load off the other side.
Tiptoes to heels
Another quick exercise you can do is to transfer your weight from your tiptoes to your heels, back to you tiptoes and back to your heels. Repeat this a few times.
The pelvic tilt
Another popular exercise for those who have to stand for long periods is called the pelvic tilt. Whilst standing with legs slightly apart, bend your knees a little then push your pelvis forward. As you do this, you will feel the arch in your lower back reduce as the load is taken off the surrounding muscles.
Most importantly, just move your body to the sound of the music, dance and enjoy your evenings. Do not let back pain ruin your festivities. Consult a chiropractor if those aches and pains keep presenting themselves as soon as you have to stand for a little while. Put your health first and enjoy the Algarve and its numerous festivals to the fullest.
By Sandra Genest-Boudreau | Christophe O. Alves
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Sandra Genest-Boudreau is French-Canadian, who graduated from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in 1990 before coming to the Algarve in 2002. She is passionate about adjusting all her patients, particularly children. Christophe Alves graduated from the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic (AECC) UK, and has a special interest in Sport Chiropractic. Algarve Quiroprática clinic: EN125 in Pêra | 282 312 853 | 969 397 375