If you stand or sit a lot, you should be doing this…
As a first responder, we are known for sitting all day, however, there are moments where we find ourselves standing all day. We’ve all been there, working a 12 hour shift where you do nothing but stand at a post. It’s a brainless and easy job, and at least once during a shift, the honorable citizen will pass you and say, “Easy money today, eh?” Of course, the work is easy, but the added weight from the vest and belt add an additional 30 lbs and by the end of the day, your legs, hips, and back take a serious beating. There is nothing better than taking off the gun belt and relieving that pressure from my lower back. Up until recently, I’ve always just grunted and dealt with the pain that comes with standing and just chalk it up to one of those things, “It comes with the job.” However, recently I’ve been experimenting with ways to hack the pain of standing so that I can recover and be ready to go the next day (especially helpful when you know you’re working multiple days of protests or consecutive days of fixed posts). I’ve also realized that the same hacks I use for standing can be applied to sitting as well.
1. Move Around
I make it a point to move around constantly and shift my weight. I am never standing still in a place for too long. I want my body to be moving as much as possible, because I know I am going to be stagnant for the majority of the day. Our lymph system, which helps remove wastes and helps detoxify our body thrives on movement. That’s why you see people with swollen feet and vericose veins after years of being a first responder. They aren’t draining properly like the rest of us (one of the ways I like to move around is practicing my de-escalation drills, practicing drawing all my weapons from pistol to OC, taser, baton [obviously I don’t draw them all the way because I’m in public, but the muscle memory reps I’m building is helpful])
Extra Credit: You could purchase a whole body vibration (WBV) platform such as the Bulletproof Vibe to help shake and loosen up all those tired muscles. Great for the lymphatic system, and helps with detox and regulation of waste. WBV’s have also shown to help with bone density and help fire/activate all those tiny muscles that are long and forgotten and sometimes will turn off from inactive use.
2. Neutral Spine
Although I think it’s important to maintain that neutral spine (abdomen tight, ribcage down, glutes flexed) that Kelly Starrett talks about so much, it’s very difficult to do for long periods of time, However, being conscious of that movement pattern is a great way to see where we’re broken. For example I know I have slouched shoulders, so flexing my butt and abs, helps get my shoulders back so that I’m in a better neutral position. Obviously, when you’re wearing a kit or gun belt or anything that effects gravity and your posture, it takes a toll on your body. Very often we compensate for weaker parts of our body, and we just forget to keep a minimal amount of tension on let’s say our abdomen, and next thing we know, 10 years pass and we have horrible posture and all kinds of back problems, and we just concede to the fact, “Well it’s part of the job nothing I can do.”
Recommended: Check out Rogue Fitness, where you can pickup a handful mobility tools, several of which Kelly Starrett has designed. Kelly also just launched a book called Deskbound, which goes into great detail regarding the harmful effects of sitting and what you can do about it. Kelly’s first book, The Supple Leopard, also has several helpful mobility hacks that I will often reference whenever I get any nagging pains or mobility issues.
This can be difficult to do, especially when you’re on the job and in the public. However, if possible, I like to walk over to a curb and just stretch my calf for 20 seconds. After bouts of standing, those calves are stabilizing and working hard, and need intermittent breaks. I like to hold for 10–20 seconds, and then do 1 rep of flexing my calf like doing a calf raise in the gym.
Recommended: I would also jump on a rumble roller or some type of foam roller after your shift or any long bouts of standing. I would roll out for at least two minutes each calf to help recover faster.
4. Compression Socks
Compression socks are a hack that have been used with athletes to help them recover faster. The idea here, is the compression is helping push fluid back easier up to heart (lymphatic system). I only wear compression socks when I do long bouts of standing and have found them to help with the recovery of my calves and overall fatigue. I have tried several different types of compression socks such as cheap $10 on Amazon to $20 pairs on Amazon, and then the more expensive ones such as Zensah and 2XU. The Amazon ones aren’t bad, but the material is more flimsy and doesn’t feel as durable. Personally, I prefer the Zensah’s or the Injinji. I like the Injinji because they make toe separator compression socks as well.
After a day of standing, I will sit on an inversion table or my personal favorite, anti-gravity boots. The anti gravity boots are more convenient, because you don’t need a whole space setup for an inversion table, and let’s face it, they’re CHEAPER. I will invert regularly for about 5–10 minutes after work, and it completely eliminates my lower back pain. This is my all time favorite hack for eliminating lower back pain and restoring the back. The head rush and lymph drainage effect you get from inverting is also a huge plus.
6. Epsom Salt Bath
Finish your night in a relaxing epsom salt bath. Everyone knows this hack, but NOBODY does it! This coupled with inversion therapy will make you feel like a new man/woman the next day. Most of us do not get enough magnesium in our diet as it is, and it’s responsible for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. This is a great way to help relieve any tension in the body, replace some of the minerals we need for healing and relieve stress. You can go to your local Walgreens to pick up some, me personally, I use Amazon for everything and this is a brand a I like, EPSOAK.
Recommended: Also supplement with oral magnesium. My favorite brand is Natural Calm. It uses magnesium citrate which is highly bioavailable, so your body instantly absorbs it. Huge fan of the raspberry-lemonade flavor
So there you have it, the complete guide to hacking standing for long periods of time. Please write back and let me know if you do anything differently, or if this program worked for you! Thanks!