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With many studies pointing out the life-threatening effects of a sedentary lifestyle, standing desks have become the in-thing for office workers. These desks force you to get off your office chair and stand while working, reducing the hours you sit in your office.
However, some reports claim standing desks can cause varicose veins. But how true are these claims?
Using a standing desk for long hours leads to blood pooling around your feet and legs, increasing the chances of varicose veins. However, using your standing desk correctly can prevent this health problem.
The following guide will get into more details about how using standing desks can cause varicose veins. We’ll also show you how to use your sit-stand desk correctly to prevent it.
What is worse for varicose veins sitting or standing?
Long periods of sitting or standing are never good for your vein health. More and more studies are being carried out about the sedentary lifestyle. They show that it’s unhealthy at all levels and can even lead to an early death!
If you spend many hours on your office chair, you have a higher chance of becoming overweight, developing type 2 diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
Prolonged sitting can also put you at risk of harming your veins.
As you stay inactive in the chair for all those hours, you get poor circulation through your legs.
Weight gain resulting from too much sitting will also put pressure on your veins.
Blood is likely to pool in your feet and legs, especially if your legs are bent—increasing the chances of developing spider veins and varicose veins.
And in some rare cases, extended hours of sitting can lead to deep thrombosis , which involves dangerous blood clots in your legs.
Prolonged standing isn’t good for your vein health either. It causes blood to pool in your ankles, which puts pressure on your leg veins. Standing for hours increases pressure on your veins and increases the chances of getting varicose veins.
This perfectly explains why people in occupations that involve standing for too long—e.g., chefs, hairdressers, pharmacists, surgeons, etc.—usually suffer from this condition.
The secret lies in balancing between seated and standing positions throughout the day. Don’t sit too much and don’t stand for long periods.
Supposing you have a height-adjustable desk, it will help you regularly switch between these postures to avoid too much sitting or standing.
How prolonged standing causes spider veins and varicose veins
Standing for long hours has been shown to cause varicose veins, and there are multiple studies to back this up.
One such study was published in the journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and involved up to 38,000 participants. The research suggests an increased risk of varicose veins for people who walk or walk for over 6 hours every day.
This also increases the risk of heart failure and arterial disease. Not to forget, it can also lead to carotid atherosclerosis. This dangerous condition causes the narrowing of major arteries between your heart and brain.
When you’re standing, the blood vessels on your lower legs will need to fight gravity to make your blood upward through the system and to the heart. If you put too much pressure on your veins (standing does this), they tend to weaken or even sustain damage—making it harder for blood to move.
The result is that blood pools in your veins and vessels, and you’ll start noticing spider veins. The risk of varicose veins also increases as blood flow to the heart becomes harder.
Too much on your feet makes it harder for the blood to flow. And given that standing desks keep you on your feet for prolonged periods, they’re highly likely to cause varicose veins.
How to prevent varicose veins when using a standing desk
Standing desks have their benefits when used in office work. They can help relieve stress on your neck and shoulder, improve blood circulation, promote better posture, and even increase your productivity at work.
As they say, however, too much of anything is poison. Standing desks aren’t an exception. Long-standing hours make standing desks bad for your circulatory system.
That said, you want to ensure you don’t use this helpful office innovation in such a way that they increase your risk of getting varicose veins.
Here are some helpful precautions you can take to prevent varicose veins:
Regularly switch between sitting and standing
Too much standing is what increases the risk of varicose veins. You want to cut the amount of time you spend on your feet by switching between the sitting and standing positions.
How much you spend standing is still a debatable topic. But we advise you to switch positions after around every 20, 30, or 60 minutes. When you’re getting started, you want to lean on the lower side for 20-30 minutes to give yourself time to get used to standing while working.
Luckily, the standing desks come with a height-adjustable function that allows you to set them for sitting and standing positions. But how much do you sit? Again, you’re recommended to do this in a 1:1 or 1:2 (i.e., for every hour your stand, get to your chair for 1-2 hours).
Use an anti-fatigue mat
Another way you can prevent varicose veins is by stepping on a standing desk mat while working on your stand-up desk. The mat comes cushioned and helps get pressure off your feet and legs.
Take breaks from your standing desk
It is also a good idea to step away from your standing desk and take quick walking breaks throughout the day. The recommended break interval is around 30 minutes every hour.
This will ensure you don’t stay in the same static position when using your desk.
Besides walking, you can also try doing some stretching exercises.
These are pretty simple and don’t require you to get out of your office. And they’ll keep your body from getting stiff.
Choose what you wear carefully
The clothes you wear while working at home or office can also contribute to the varicose veins problem. We strongly recommend against wearing tight outfits at the legs or waist.
Such clothes cause compressions that restrict blood flow (or cause blood pooling) and increase your odds of getting varicose veins.
We all know that exercises are good for you. Workouts such as walking or yoga help facilitate blood flow.
Running and walking are good for activating your calf muscles and helping with venous return.
And this is a good thing because it facilitates good circulation, significantly reducing the risk of varicose veins.
Additional tips for preventing varicose veins include:
If you have excess weight, consider losing a few pounds to help boost your circulation. Excessive weight can put stress on your veins by squeezing the walls of the veins.
This risks damaging delicate valves responsible for blood flowing from your extremities to the heart. Failure of these valves leads to blood pooling in the vein. The vein stretches, twists, expands and ultimately becomes a varicose vein.
If your standing desk is triggering spider veins, consider wearing compression socks. These are designed to put pressure on your lower body which helps maintain good blood flow and reduce leg swelling and discomfort.
Try elevating your lower body every for approx. 15 minutes to help get blood out of the legs.
Drink lots of water throughout the day. Staying hydrated has been shown to keep your blood thinner. Thinner blood flows much more easily through your system, preventing blood clots or regulation issues.
Conclusion – Do Standing Desks Cause Varicose?
While standing desks can be helpful to you in many ways, they can also be unhealthy if you use them incorrectly.
Spending too many hours at your standing desk can lead to blood pooling around your feet and legs, leading to varicose veins.
Knowing the risks of stand-up desks and the necessary measures to prevent them will help you avoid varicose veins and other side effects.
A good balance of sitting and standing is sure to prevent varicose veins from catching up with you.
Learn to listen to your body while using a sit-stand desk. Take breaks, do stretches, and exercise to minimize the chances of varicose veins.
Using an anti-fatigue mat to get the pressure off your leg veins and avoiding wearing tight clothing around your legs or waist can also help.
Ultimately, finding a good balance between sitting, standing, and taking short walks throughout your workday will keep varicose veins at bay!