What we do after we hit the alarm in the morning varies so greatly from person to person. I might be a 9-5 copywriting desk jockey, yet the person living in the apartment beside me might be a graveyard shift coffee bean roaster. There’s no rulebook for choosing our type of employment. Everyone has different dreams and desires. However, when you break down everyone’s jobs and careers there’s really two types of employment out there.
There are people that spend most of their time sitting and there are people that spend most of their time standing.
Through my life, like most people, I have been lucky enough to experience both worlds. Both experiences come with different pros and cons. However, what does your body endure under each circumstance. They both have to be bad for your joints, right? Is my job causing joint pain?
According to everyday health,
“Any job that requires you to make the same motions day after day, year after year, puts you at increased risk for arthritis. This means arthritis symptoms strike people in fields from manufacturing to music if they don’t take arthritis prevention strategies seriously.
“Anything that puts unhealthy strains or stresses on the joints can cause arthritis,” says Erik Gall, MD, professor of clinical medicine in the rheumatology section and interim director of the Arizona Arthritis Center at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson.”
Sitting All Day
Let’s start with the type of employment that requires you to sit all day, or at least majority of the day. These are the people like bloggers, accountants, telemarketers, tollbooth operators, administrative assistants, web developers and perhaps even commercial pilots. You would think that sitting couldn’t be bad for you, right? After all doesn’t joint pain come from overusing your joints? Isn’t arthritis caused from years of wear and tear on your body?
It’s very difficult to find any research that proves that sitting all day, everyday is good for you. If you research this subject there’s almost no positive results. However, there may be some positives to sitting. When you sit all day long you put yourself out of risk of injuring yourself. A lot of sports injuries cause athletes to get arthritis later in life. To paint a picture a pro football player has a much greater chance of developing joint pain from injury compared to someone who builds apps all day. It seems as though the only positive to sitting all day is you are avoiding injury and wear and tear that someone who stands all day may experience. However, the cons of sitting all day greatly outweigh the pros.
The evidence is everywhere. When you research the effect of sitting all day the facts are worst-case scenario. In fact, some researchers believe that sitting all day for years can increase your chances of death by 40%! Besides the fact that you are unhealthier then your active standing counterpart, let’s look at some other effects of sitting all day.
- Bad posture
- Excess body fat
- Reduced lung efficiency
- Back Pain
- Joint Pain
We could go on and on about the negative side effects of sitting all day but let’s analyze joint pain specifically.
Your body was made to move. When you sit all day you are deteriorating your muscles faster than people who move all day. The weakening of muscles is affecting your posture and causing joint problems. According to breakingmuscle.com, sitting all day literally turns people into what people call “sitters” or people who have limited mobility due to muscle tightness. You need to get up and move around the office, stretch or go for a walk…your life is literally depending on it.
Standing All Day
The second type of career choice will require people to literally be on their feet most of the day. This is probably the least desirable option, if people had to pick. Unlike sitting all day in a leather chair, pain free, you can feel the fatigue in your back and legs from standing all day. A few jobs that require people to stand all day are people who work in retail stores, people who work on an assembly line, line cooks in restaurants, laborers and perhaps even doctors. What do you think is worse for you, sitting all day? Or standing all day?
According to a Denver Post article,
“We have engineered activity right out of people’s lives,” said Ray Browning, a Colorado State University professor in the school’s Health and Exercise Science department. “How do we change classrooms and office environments to make them more activity-promoting?”
One simple solution: Stand more.”
It almost seems like the pros of standing most of the day are obvious. Compared to sitting all day, standing is way better than sitting. Here’s some benefits,
- Burn Calories
- Lose Weight
- Keep your muscles active
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Improved Posture
Compared to sitting all day there are a ton of benefits, especially for reducing joint pain. Although, it’s not realistic to think that standing on an assembly line all day is completely healthy for you, right?
Just like finding the negatives of sitting all day, the negatives of standing all day are evident as well. It may be ideal to stand but most of the time when people’s jobs require you to stand all day it usually means repetition. From the assembly line worker at Harley Davidson to the coffee bean roaster at Starbucks, most jobs that require you to stand also require repetition. According to Canadian Women’s Health Network, standing all day, doing repetitive movements, is horrible for your joints.
“The effects of standing all day can show up almost right away. Prolonged standing and walking causes or makes worse health problems and soft tissue injuries including:
- swollen or painful feet or legs;
- plantar fasciitis (inflamed connective tissue that goes from heel to toe, supporting the arch);
- stretched Achilles tendon (tendinitis);
- knee problems;
- low back pain;
- neck and shoulder stiffness;
- poor posture (and its effects);
- increased chance of knee or hip arthritis; and
- muscle soreness and fatigue.”
Don’t Sit or Stand too Much
Sitting all day will cause me to endure joint pain, yet so will standing all day. What am I supposed to do?
Apparently you need to do a blend of both. The ideal situation would be to spend some of your time sitting and some of your time standing. I would say that at most places of employment you could have this option. If you’re a waitress perhaps you can take a seat between helping serve the guests. If you are a desk jockey perhaps you can purchase a standing desk and convince your employer it will make you healthier and more productive. Being more productive has never gotten anyone fired, right?
Avoiding joint pain is a full time job, especially when our place of employment is a leading cause. However, if you’re reading this too late and you have already developed arthritis from your repetitive job, surgery isn’t your only option. Call the Stem Cell Professionals in York, Pa today and see how you can possibly reduce joint pain and feel great again!
- Madeline Vann, MPH | Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH. (2014, January 17). 9 Worst Jobs for Your Joints. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth.com/arthritis-pictures/9-worst-jobs-for-your-joints.aspx
- Douglas Brown, (2011, September 5) The health benefits of working on your feet [blog post] Retrieved from http://www.denverpost.com/ci_18821804
- (Revised 2006) Preventing Work-related Injuries: Standing on the Job [blog post] Retrieved from: http://www.cwhn.ca/en/node/44781