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Why Standing Often Feels Even Harder Than Running

We often stand around in flip-flops during the summer, Dr. Koshimune said, which, alone, is not necessarily problematic. But walking too much in them can cause problems, because your toes and tendons have to engage to keep flip-flops on your feet. “It’s like telling your feet, ‘I’m going to give you these things to protect you, but I’m going to make you hold on to them,’” Dr. Koshimune said. Set yourself up for more comfortable standing and walking by wearing more supportive shoes, such as flats or slides with a thicker sole (one that doesn’t twist easily) and a strap in back to help hold your foot in. The American Podiatric Medical Association offers this tip sheet for buying sandals. They’ve also created the A.P.M.A. Seal of Acceptance program for shoes found to promote good foot health (their site features lists of products that have earned the seal).

What do most of us do when we are waiting in line? We pull out our phone. Beware “tech neck,” Ms. Lyon said, which means your neck is tilted down and forward, causing your shoulders to round (a position called kyphosis). If you happen to be lugging a heavy backpack and your core is weak, you might also have lordosis, which means your back is arched and your rear end sticks out slightly.

Together, it’s a recipe for pain. Instead, tuck your tailbone slightly under yourself, drop your shoulders away from your ears and look out straight ahead of you — and not down at your phone.

A study in Japan found that a standing exercise called the “One Stretch” helped prevent or reduce low back pain. To do the One Stretch, stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Put your hands on your lower back, fingers pointing downward. Inhale, and then exhale for three seconds as you gently stretch backward while trying not to bend your knees. Use your hands for support as you come back to a neutral standing position. Repeat several times.

Ms. Lyon, who is also the director of corporate wellness partnerships for a standing desk company, offers additional stretching exercises you can try while standing at your desk or elsewhere on her website.

“Standing is highly demanding, and it requires some training and endurance,” Dr. Gallagher said. If you know you’ve got upcoming airport security lines or lines at the amusement park, or even a big day shopping at the flea market or mall, train with some short bouts of intentional standing. No phone, just you, your posture (active stance!) and your thoughts. Even if your main thought is counting the seconds until you can sit down again.

Judi Ketteler writes about health and happiness at midlife. She does not own a standing desk.


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