Why Does Standing Still Cause Leg Pain?

Discover why standing still causes leg pain and why walking helps with circulation, muscle activation, and venous return.

Why Does Standing Still Cause Leg Pain?
Photo by Olga Guryanova / Unsplash

If you’ve ever spent a significant amount of time standing still, you may have experienced the discomfort and fatigue that can quickly set in.

But why is it that standing stationary for a long time causes more leg pain than walking?

Muscle Activation and Blood Circulation

When you walk, the muscles in your legs contract and relax, effectively acting as a pump to assist blood flow back to the heart.

This muscular action helps counteract the effects of gravity on the circulation of blood in the lower extremities.

Standing still, on the other hand, does not engage these muscles to the same extent, resulting in decreased assistance in blood circulation.

The lack of muscle activation can lead to blood pooling in the lower limbs, causing discomfort and fatigue.

The Role of Muscles in Venous Return

The muscles in the legs play a crucial role in aiding venous return, which is the process of blood returning to the heart.

When you walk, the repeated contraction and relaxation of the leg muscles help to squeeze the veins, pushing the blood upwards.

This action supports the body's ability to return the blood to the heart, despite the challenges posed by gravity.

Solutions and Countermeasures

Historically, British police officers, or bobbies, were taught a simple technique to alleviate the effects of prolonged standing.

By lifting their heels and standing on the balls of their feet for a few seconds, they engaged the calf muscles and promoted blood circulation, thus providing some relief from the discomfort associated with extended periods of standing still.

As it turns out, the simple act of walking engages the leg muscles and facilitates the crucial process of blood circulation, which provides ongoing support to the body’s venous return system.

In contrast, standing still for an extended duration can result in decreased muscle activation, leading to discomfort and fatigue in the lower limbs.

So, the next time you find yourself standing for a prolonged period, remember the importance of incorporating occasional movement to keep your leg muscles engaged and your blood flowing smoothly.