How Teachers Can Save Their Legs


A Back To School Special Article

Jul 31, 2021

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How Teachers Can Save Their Legs

You are the pillars of our society.

Whether you’re a nurse or a teacher, you are helping our loved ones and families every single day with your acts of giving and selflessness. In short, you are saving us all.

But it’s time to focus a little more on your health and yourself.

By profession, teachers put themselves at an increased chance of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) because they stand all day. And, in part, these disorders can lead to painful, unsightly venous insufficiency in the form of spider veins, varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis to name a few.

Researchers at the Institute for Work & Health in Toronto found that standing all day is much worse than sitting all day. People working in jobs that require standing were about twice as likely to develop heart disease compared to people whose jobs require them to sit for prolonged periods of time. Prolonged standing makes it more difficult for your body to properly circulate your blood from your feet back up to your heart—which places more stress on your heart, which is your body’s one-and-only pump.

For nurses, research underscores a portion of the physical stress that they endure on a daily basis. In one study, the incidence rate of MSDs was 46.0 cases per 10,000 full-time nurses, which was dramatically higher than the rate for all professions at 29.4 cases per 10,000 workers.

Teachers also report a higher rate of MSDs, relative to other occupations, ranging from 39% to 95%.

Overwhelming research, cited in 17 separate studies that reviewed adverse health risks associated with prolonged standing, places chronic venous insufficiency (e.g. spider veins and varicose veins) at the top of the list of adverse health risks that nurses and teachers may face.

Health concerns tied to prolonged standing has become a global issue. The Dutch Health Council defines prolonged standing as standing for more than four hours a day or one hour at your desk without moving. In Canada, Waterloo University recommends that employees should avoid standing more than 15-30 minutes in an hour. In Switzerland, the advice favors a mixed bag: sitting (60% of your work shift), standing (20%) and moving around (20%).

Dr. Alissa Brotman O’Neil, who is a vascular surgeon and vein specialist at Vein Specialist Centers, favors movement compared to long periods of static standing: “Veins are muscles in our body that help bring blood back to the heart. Venous blood in the legs is aided back to the heart by movement and walking. The calf muscles pump the venous blood up a level and then valves in our veins shut so that the blood does not go in the wrong direction. It is very important to walk during the day for venous health.  Immobility can lead to swelling and even blood clots.”

 

Unfortunately, teachers don’t also have the luxury of moving around. However, there is bright side to this occupational hazard.
Here are four ways teachers can save their legs:

1. Wear Compression Stockings

Compression stockings provide pressure to your legs to improve your blood circulation, which prevents leg swelling and, over time, venuous disorders such as spider veins and varicose veins. Standing for more prolonged periods puts an added strain on your heart and your veins, which have the task of pushing your blood from your feet back to your heart against the force of gravity throughout the day.

Compression stockings can reduce occupational leg swelling, which is welcome news for teachers. These stockings offer different levels of pressure based on the elasticity and stiffness of the material, the shape of your leg and your specific movements. Low pressure refers to less than 20 mmHG or class 1. Medium compression ranges between 20-30 mmHG or class 2 and high compression is pressure greater than 30 mmHG or class 3.

There’s even research that shows compression stocking can help prevent the reoccurrence of venous ulcers, which is a slow-healing sore on your leg due to poor circulation, and deep vein thrombosis, which occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deeper veins in your body.

2. Use An Anti-Fatigue Mat

The material used in anti-fatigue mats forces your calf and leg muscles to very slightly move again and again, even if you’re standing in place. These micro-movements, which you most likely won’t even notice, counter the negative physical effects of prolonged standing. Every time your calf muscle contracts, it sends blood back up to your heart, supporting better circulation.

Several research studies support the health benefits, mostly in a manufacturing setting on an assembly line where workers stand in place for long periods of time. But there have been a few studies done in a health care setting, as well. One specific study examined the musculoskeletal affects endured by surgeons who stand for long periods in the operating room on different types of flooring. In all, 70% of participating surgeons said they would recommend the use of anti-fatigue mats to a friend, 65% of surgeons preferred the mats to hard concrete floors and 45% said the mat helped reduce their MSD-related symptoms. To corroborate their opinions, leg volume was slightly higher among surgeons who didn’t use the mats.

3. Start Stretching With Resistance Bands

Movement will help improve your circulation, which will lessen the chances for spider veins and varicose veins. Stretching is a good place to start, especially with resistance bands.

The American College of Sports Medicine supports a static stretch with a 15-30-second hold, repeating three to five times on alternate sides of your body. Of course, you should consult your primary health care provide before you begin a new exercise program.

“Teachers are working and standing for so long, they don’t realize that a stretch can go a long way to protect their health,” says Dr. Claudia Rios-Datta, who is a pioneer in cryo-sclerotherapy, which quickly turned spider vein treatments into pain-free, minimally invasive, outpatient procedures in 2000. “Standing for long periods can cause blood to pool in the leg veins because our calf muscles act as a pump to move the blood through the veins. When the calf muscle pump isn’t working properly, the blood flow in the legs and feet is impaired, and this can lead to vein disease like vein reflux that manifests as varicose veins as well as deeper venous disease like chronic venous insufficiency and deep vein thrombosis.”

Here are a few stretches that will get the blood flowing back to your heart:

Seated Calf Stretch: While seated on the floor with legs extended, wrap a resistance band, or a towel if that’s handy, around one foot and hold the band with both hands. Now, slowly pull your toes toward you shin until you feel the stretch.

Lying Hip Stretch: As you lie on the floor with the band around your right foot, straighten out the left leg on the floor and slowly lower the right leg across your body and to the left as low as you can. Feel the stretch on your right side.

Lateral Bank Walk: With a band wrapped above knees, stand in a partial squat position. With knees bent and arms forward, take eight steps to your left. Keep your feet parallel throughout the stretch. Now, repeat the motion in the opposite direction.

4. Leverage Minimally Invasive Innovation

If your legs need more than lifestyle changes, your solution may include a state-of-the-art, minimally invasive procedure that could be done in less than an hour. And it gets better: No cuts, no sutures, no down time. Things have changed dramatically in this field of medicine.

Varicose veins, which can appear blue, red or flesh-tone, bulge from the skin. They are often found on the thighs, the front and back of calves or the inside of the legs near the ankles and feet. In contrast, spider veins, which tend to be red, are smaller than varicose veins and don’t bulge. They are found on the legs—and even the face.

Varicose veins and spider veins occur when the valves in your leg veins stop working properly. Unlike arteries, veins play an important role in directing blood flow from your feet back to your heart, working against the forces of gravity in most situations. When your valves don’t close correctly, your blood stays in the vein, which weakens the walls and cause it to bulge or create new veins to mitigate the buildup of pressure.

 

Microphlebectomy is a brief procedure that is only offered by skilled vein clinics and remains one of the best options for treating bulging varicose veins. Under local anesthesia, the vein is removed in small sections through tiny incisions during the procedure, which is provided in an office setting.

Spider veins, which impact more than half of women, can often be the first indication of an underlying condition called chronic venous insufficiency. Sclerotherapy is the most common technique for treating spider veins. This medical procedure involves the injection of a sclerosant into a vein to collapse it.

 

Radiofrequency ablation, deemed the standard for today’s treatments for venous insufficiency, involves a small catheter that delivers heat to close the abnormal vein. The procedure is minimally invasive, and it can be done in the office.

VenaSeal, which uses a special glue to close damaged veins, and ClariVein, which uses a catheter to treat the diseased vein chemically and mechanically, are other examples of minimally invasive medical procedures. Both procedures are safe and equally as effective as radiofrequency ablation.

For nurses and teachers, who are constantly on their feet to help us, taking proactive steps to counter the negative health aspects of prolonged standing can go a long way towards protecting their legs.

We understand that patient’s are rightly concerned about getting the right diagnosis and treatment for vein disease. Your vein health is incredibly important and having an experienced vein doctor can be the difference between relief and disappointment. To that end, we have put together this simple guide to help you find the best vein doctor for spider and varicose vein treatment.

In Summary

Finding the right vein specialist is the most important step towards getting the right diagnosis and treatment. The Vein Specialist Centers are a premier destination for spider and varicose vein treatment. Our team of vein specialists have been carefully selected based on their training background, reputation, and favorability rating with patients. The experience has been great for our patients and we look forward to helping you. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

CONTRIBUTING SPECIALIST

Dr. Brotman O’Neill

Harvard Trained | Vascular Surgeon / Vein Specialist

Dr. Alissa Brotman O’Neill is an accomplished vascular surgeon and vein specialist and skilled in applying cutting-edge, minimally-invasive endovascular technology of the aorta and peripheral arteries.

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    01. Princeton

    10 Forrestal Road South
    Princeton, NJ
    08540

    02. Woodbridge Twp

    1200 Greene Street
    Woodbridge Township, NJ
    08830

    03. Mt. Laurel

    4000 Church Road
    Mt. Laurel, NJ
    08054

    04. Paramus

    2 Sears Drive, Ste 101
    Paramus, NJ
    07652

    05. Clifton

    905 Allwood Road, Ste 105
    Clifton, NJ
    07012

    06. Wayne

    342 Hamburg Turnpike, Ste 202
    Wayne, NJ
    07470

    07. Freehold

    501 Iron Bridge Road, Ste 2
    Freehold, NJ
    07728

    08. Springfield

    105 Morris Avenue, Ste 101
    Springfield, NJ
    07081

    09. Long Island

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    Great Neck, NY
    11021

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    635 Madison Avenue
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