Why is standing stationary for a long time more painful for your legs than walking for a long time?


Standing stationary for 30 minutes: Leg pain

Walking for 30 minutes: No leg pain

In: 11178

Standing still: same muscles and pressure points

Walking: alternating muscles and pressure

It’s all about blood circulation. If you’re standing still, blood will accumulate in your legs/feet, because your leg muscles aren’t using much and thus gravity takes over and the pressure causes pain

Whereas walking keeps the blood circulating because your leg muscles need fresh blood in order to move (they need oxygen rich blood) and thus allow the pressure from gravity be relieved.

Eli5: not moving? Valves shut -> pressure buildup -> pain

The muscles in your legs are designed to squeeze the veins when you are walking, this helps pump the blood back up to the heart against gravity. No walking, no muscle assist.

British bobbies were taught to occasionally lift their heels and stand on the balls of the feet for a few seconds to help with this.

It’s about blood. Your heart pumps blood outward, but what gets the blood back to your heart? Your head can just rely on gravity, but everywhere else your muscles pump the blood back.

When you move your muscles–legs, arms, etc–it squeezes the veins and moves a bit of blood back to your core. Your veins have one-way valves in them, strategically located so that just about any motion makes progress. And, of course, your body is optimized so that the movement patterns you normally make, like walking and running, provide really good return circulation.

If you stand still for a while, blood starts to pool in your legs. It hurts because your body needs you to do something about it. You feel the need to shift your weight, stretch, walk a few steps, or something to get the extra blood back to your heart.

If you stand completely still long enough you’ll actually pass out. This used to be a problem in various militaries before they understood what was going on. In some places it probably still is.