This is How Working from Home Can Affect Your Feet

Working from home can affect the extremities in many ways. Let's look at some of them and what to do about it.
This is How Working from Home Can Affect Your Feet
Diego Pereira

Reviewed and approved by el médico Diego Pereira.

Last update: 03 May, 2023

The dynamics of recent years have increased the number of people working from home. This has many advantages and disadvantages, including health implications. Today we’re addressing a matter that’s rarely discussed: the effects of working from home on your feet. And we’ll do so based on expert opinion, as well as showing you how to prevent complications.

6 effects of working from home on your feet

When you think about the health effects of working from home, it’s almost always in relation to the lower back. However, many parts of the body are affected by sitting for a long time. Let’s take a look at the effects of working from home on your feet and what you can do about it.

1. Accumulation of fluid in the lower limbs

Studies and research have associated prolonged periods of sitting with an increased risk of fluid buildup. Often people refer to this problem as simply swollen ankles. It can create heaviness, pain, and reduced flexibility.

2. Reduced blood flow

A paper published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise in 2022 found that sitting for 8 hours causes impaired blood flow and decreased levels of oxygenated hemoglobin and total hemoglobin in the muscles.

The latter can create symptoms such as tingling in the extremities, pain, and cramps when making sudden movements.

To carry out the research, the researchers used healthy men, non-smokers, without medication, normotensive, recreationally active, and without a clinical history of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

So, the reactions may be slightly more intense in those who have a lifestyle, habits, and health that are far removed from these types of people.

3. Varicose veins and spider veins

The effects of working from home on the feet are varied
The appearance of varicose veins in people who remain constantly in office environments is frequent.

As experts warn, sitting for a long time (as well as standing) is a risk factor for the development of venous reflux disease. This can cause varicose veins, spider veins, and reticular veins.

All of these aren’t just aesthetic discomfort, but are accompanied by symptoms such as leg tenderness, fatigue, pain, tenderness, and exercise intolerance.

4. An increased risk of deep vein thrombosis

Prolonged periods of sitting at a computer have been linked to a risk factor for deep vein thrombosis.

The risk increases when you spend up to 10 hours sitting down working and at least 2 hours of the day without getting up from your chair to stretch your legs. Deep vein thrombosis refers to the formation of a blood clot that forms within the deep veins, in this case, the legs.

5. Weakening of muscles

Researchers warn that a sedentary lifestyle and prolonged bouts of not moving the legs can lead to muscle atrophy. The loss of muscle mass in the legs leads to functional problems, such as changes in balance, stability when walking, the strength to do daily activities, and others.

As a consequence, and following the evidence, modifications in the characteristics of the foot may occur to try to compensate for the loss of muscle. This can lead to problems in the structure of the foot that may have major implications. Age, degree of physical activity, and the presence of underlying diseases may accelerate this effect.

6. Pain in the foot and difficulty walking

One of the effects on the feet of working from home is exacerbated by a common habit: being barefoot during all or a good part of the day. Experts have found that walking barefoot, compared to walking in a shoe, results in poorer gait performance, less walking confidence, and can even trigger episodes of pain.

The latter is a frequent consequence in people who aren’t used to doing it. It occurs because walking barefoot activates muscles that aren’t activated when doing so with a shoe. For many people, walking barefoot can be painful due to the effort that unaccustomed muscles must make to activate themselves.

What can you do to reduce the effects of working from home on your feet?

The effects of working from home on the feet can be controlled
Stretching, ergonomic chairs, and some changes in work style are very important in order to avoid health problems.

The effects of working from home on your feet are by no means minor. To reduce associated complications, you must take into account a series of habits. Here are some positive steps you can take:

  • Use an ergonomic chair. This not only affects the posture of the upper trunk, but also that of the lower trunk.
  • Buy comfortable and suitable shoes for work.
  • Take a break every 45 minutes to stretch your legs.
  • Avoid crossing your legs voluntarily or involuntarily.
  • Raise your legs at the end of your workday.
  • Consider wearing compression stockings.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Consider using a footrest on the floor.

In addition to this, you should make sure that you implement a balanced diet and exercise on a regular basis. This further reduces associated complications. If you have an underlying disease, take medication, or are overweight or obese, then you need to be more careful.

  • Golightly YM, Dufour AB, Hannan MT, Hillstrom HJ, Katz PP, Jordan JM. Leg Muscle Mass and Foot Symptoms, Structure, and Function: The Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2016 Mar;71(3):385-90.
  • Healy B, Levin E, Perrin K, Weatherall M, Beasley R. Prolonged work- and computer-related seated immobility and risk of venous thromboembolism. J R Soc Med. 2010 Nov;103(11):447-54.
  • Kurosawa Y, Nirengi S, Tabata I, Isaka T, Clark JF, Hamaoka T. Effects of Prolonged Sitting with or without Elastic Garments on Limb Volume, Arterial Blood Flow, and Muscle Oxygenation. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2022 Mar 1;54(3):399-407.
  • Petersen E, Zech A, Hamacher D. Walking barefoot vs. with minimalist footwear – influence on gait in younger and older adults. BMC Geriatr. 2020 Mar 4;20(1):88.
  • Sudoł-Szopińska I. Wpływ długotrwałej pracy w pozycji siedzaicej na powstawanie obrzików kończyn dolnych i metody ich zapobiegania [Influence of prolonged sedentary work on the development of lower limbs edema and methods of its prevention]. Med Pr. 2006;57(3):263-9.
  • Sartori R, Romanello V, Sandri M. Mechanisms of muscle atrophy and hypertrophy: implications in health and disease. Nat Commun. 2021 Jan 12;12(1):330.
  • Tisi PV. Varicose veins. BMJ Clin Evid. 2011 Jan 5;2011:0212.
  • Vena D, Rubianto J, Popovic M, Yadollahi A. Leg fluid accumulation during prolonged sitting. Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2016 Aug;2016:4284-4287.

Este texto se ofrece únicamente con propósitos informativos y no reemplaza la consulta con un profesional. Ante dudas, consulta a tu especialista.