Remedies For Those Who Stand All Day

When you look at the qualifications for those who want to work in the printing industry, you will often find this requirement - "Able to stand for long periods of time."  That's fine and dandy, but the reality is that just like fine sandpaper, standing on concrete day in and day out can wear on your bones and muscles.  So what practical things can those in the offset printing industry do (or any trade for that matter) to ward off the inevitable problems of lower back pain or foot problems.

I don't know about too many other pressmen, but there is no tolerance for sitting down on the job where I have worked.  Not only does it make you look lazy but you have to be able to respond at any moment to the myriad of variables while the press is running.  So if your employer isn't gracious enough to follow tradition of big Japanese companies that allow their employees to take ergonomic breaks, here are some practical things you can do on a day to day basis to offset that daily grind on your back, while you are working.

1.  Ergonomics.  While standing, rest one of your feet about 6 inches higher than the other on something.  This relieves a lot of stress on the lower back.  Alternate between feet.  Make it a habit of doing this where you stand, even if you have to put a bundle of newspapers on the floor to make the place for it.

Making orthotics from a mold.
2.  Orthotics.  Once again, the feet.  If you do not have good support that custom fits your foot and you stand on concrete all day, you will likely develop plantar faciitis.  This is a condition where the arch in your foot becomes inflamed.  The part of the arch that attaches to the heel will swell and the whole muscle will eventually go flat if you do not give it good support.  Orthotics last a long time.  See your doctor for a recommendation.  He will send you to a foot specialist who will make a cast of your foot.  Even better yet, maybe you can talk your employer into taking the initiative and "footing" the cost.

Combined with comfortable shoes, matting can help.
3.  Anti-fatigue matting.  If there is a particular place that you stand all day?  You do not need much of this stuff.  The principle behind it is that it forces the legs to continually balance the body.  A surface that is not completely stable will keep the hip, leg and feet moving to correct your position.  This is good for circulation and muscles.

4.  Stretches.  Likely it is hard to get away for any kind of stretching.  Equally hard would be explaining to your foreman why you need to lay on the ground to do stretches.  Find stretches you can do for you lower back that you can do while standing.  You don't have to perform them in front of everyone.  I'm sure there's a place you can find or a job function you can do while doing the stretch.

5.  Get a good pair of shoes.  Bite the bullet and pay an extra hundred dollars for that shoe that had good support.  Many employers require that their employees wear steel toed shoes.  Some even pitch in a few bucks to help cover the cost.  Spend the few extra dollars and get a good pair.