Prolonged Standing Associated With Musculoskeletal Disorders and Health Problems Interview with:
Maria-Gabriela Garcia Ph.D candidate
Sensory-Motor Systems Lab, ETH Zurich
Zurich, Switzerland and
Dr. B.J. Martin
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Many workers are required to stand for prolong periods of time at their workplace. Several investigations have associated prolonged standing with back pain, and musculoskeletal disorders. The accumulation of muscle fatigue is assumed to lead to such disorders. However, the long-lasting effects of fatigue in the lower limbs induced by prolonged standing work have received little attention. Our main findings indicate that 5 hours of standing work including regular seated rest breaks lead to a significant long-term fatigue in the lower leg muscles. The objective measures showed that the effects persisted at least 30 min after a seated recovery period while they were not subjectively perceived. Thus, subjective evaluations may not be sensitive to the long-term effects of fatigue. In addition, fatigue was not observed after 2 hours of standing work.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Anyone expose to a prolonged standing work should be aware of the health implications it could have. Prolonged standing has been associated with several musculoskeletal disorders and health problems such us low back pain, varicose veins, arthrosis, among others. Standing over a 2 hour period might be demanding for the musculoskeletal system even in young persons. Furthermore, 5 min seated breaks and a lunch break do not appear sufficient to prevent the development of fatigue of long duration. We do not recommend seating only as an alternative to standing as prolonged seating present also major issues (e.g., reduced metabolism, back pain, etc….).

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Future research should consider evaluating prolong standing with objective measures sensitive to long term fatigue and avoid reliance on self reported fatigue or discomfort. Furthermore, the evaluation of intervention methods such as “antifatigue mats” should also consider objective measurements sensitive to long term fatigue effects. Current mat designs do not appear to mitigate these effects of fatigue, as shown by some studies, including one of our own studies. Hence other designs should be tested. It may be very important to investigate the effects of alternatives such as seat-stand or seating- standing periods as well as. It should be noted that most seat-stand chairs do not allow complete relaxation of leg muscles. We are also currently expending our study to quantify the benefit of other alternatives.


Long-Term Muscle Fatigue After Standing Work

Garcia MG1, Läubli T2, Martin BJ3.

um Factors. 2015 Jun 5. pii: 0018720815590293.

Maria-Gabriela Garcia (2015). Prolonged Standing Associated With Musculoskeletal Disorders and Health Problems