The Mighty Logo

When Standing in Line At the Store Hurts

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Walking around Walmart for 15 minutes? Sure, I can do that on most days. But standing in line for five minutes? That’s a tough one.

Standing in a check-out line at a store has to be one of the most difficult things for me to do — or standing in one spot for more than a few minutes in general. I feel like a lot of people don’t understand how tough a task this can actually be for some people.

The constant pressure on my lumbar spine, knee, ankle and foot joints from standing in one spot without moving around can be excruciating. At least when I walk I’m constantly shifting the weight around and distributing pressure from one side of my body to the other. But standing without moving puts so much pressure on all of my already sore joints and makes them very painful. I can only describe the pain as like someone repetitively pounding you in the joints with a hammer. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like fun to me! This pain then also leads to incredible fatigue, which will haunt me for the rest of the day and affect anything else I had planned.

I try to plan my shopping trips for times of the day I know the stores will not have long lines. Or I try to shop at places with self-checkouts because the lines usually go a lot faster, which means less time standing. I also don’t spend more than a minute standing in one place looking at an item, because that’s exactly the same as standing in a line.

This issue extends to other activities that involve standing for a while, such as cooking, socializing without being able to sit, waiting for a bus, and lots of other thingsI otherwise enjoy doing. When I’m cooking (which to be fair isn’t that often) I will usually pull a chair into the kitchen to sit or kneel on while cutting up the ingredients or icing cupcakes. When I find people while out and about who want to talk, I will usually look out of the corner of my eyes for somewhere to sit, and depending on my comfort level with that person and how well they know me, I will usually ask if they mind sitting on a nearby bench.

Waiting for a bus is pretty tough, as a lot of the bus stops I go to do not have benches, or they are full of other people and their shopping bags. I usually have three strategies for this. I will either completely avoid bus stops without benches, even if that means taking a different bus route, or if I don’t have any other choice but to go to a stop that doesn’t have seats available I will sometimes just sit right down on the ground. Those are not my proudest moments, and I do get lots of looks, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. My last strategy for bus stops is finding somewhere nearby that I can sit to watch for the bus, such as a cafe, store or bus stop a bit further away. This is a bit riskier because I may not see the bus coming and end up missing it.

What can you do if you’re out with someone who has mobility concerns? There are many things! If you’re out with me, just generally being aware that I need breaks is the best thing. Offering to sit with me on a bench for five minutes before we go into the next store at the mall, or pointing out a nearby bench I can sit on while you stand in line goes a long way, and I promise I will be very grateful. Also, be mindful when suggesting outings. If you know it’s going to involve a ton of standing, maybe try to think of something else we can do together instead, or ask me if it will be OK on my body, and let me suggest something that I think will work for me.

Moral of today’s story: Just be mindful of who you’re with!

Originally published: January 10, 2019
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home