Travelling in crowded metro every day can cause you problems?

Travelling in crowded metro every day can cause you problems? Here’s what could be happening to your body?

Daily metro travel is an ordeal of sorts. We hang on to the handles, in an endless pursuit of a seat. And as soon as we see a miniscule seat space on the bench peeping through the thighs of two people, we never hesitate to ask, “Can you please shift?” No one minds, or better, no one should mind. We all have the same plight; no one wants to reach office or home with aching backs and legs, a stressed out temperament and a tired mind.
Almost 3 million passengers travel by Delhi metro every day. Have you given a thought to this that the daily travel can be impacting your health in at least three ways?

The Ortho Damage

If you are standing for a longer duration in the metro, you may harm your legs and back the most, says Dr Rajesh Bawari, Sr Consultant, Orthopaedics, Max Hospital, Saket. But the real damage happens when we do not mind our postures. Bending more on one side, carrying heavy bags on our back, bending our necks to fiddle with our phones, are a few postures that stress one particular organ, says Dr Rajesh.

Such wrongful habits can manifest themselves in the following ways:

– Pain in neck and back (Cervical Spondylosis)
– Tearing away of spinal disks (Lumbar spondylosis)
– Nerve related issues
– Varicose veins
– Muscle soreness
– Pain in heels and bottom of foot (Plantar fasciitis)
– Painful tender spots on bones

Some simple changes can help lessen the damage:

-While you are standing, keep moving your feet up and down to avoid pooling blood in your lower legs.
– Try standing in a way that you put equal pressure on your big toes, little toes and heels.
– Make your travel a double-edged sword. Keep tightening your core muscles while you are travelling.
– Rest your back against a pillar or metro wall.
– Avoid wearing heels everyday. If at all you want to wear them, prefer platform heels.

There are certain things that you can do when you reach home. These includes:

– Resting your feet on a level above your body, such as keeping them on two pillows while you lie down. This will better the blood circulation in your feet.
– Soak your feet in warm water with salt in it.

The Mental Fatigue

Travelling in metros can lead to a sense of claustrophobia, especially when you are travelling in an underground metro, says Dr Sameer Malhotra, Director, Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Max Hospital, Saket. He explains the mental impact of metro travelling:

Drop in serotonin levels: Serotonin is a brain chemical that can have a profound impact on your mood. Dr Sameer says that travelling daily in overcrowded metros can lead to a drop in the level of serotonin in your body making you feel pessimistic, worried and delving into the negative of ‘what ifs’.

Cattle truck syndrome: This basically refers to the stress induced by a tiresome daily metro travelling that is crowded like a cattle truck. It can translate into anxiety symptoms that can make one feel that escape from a difficult situation is impossible. Unexpected halting of trains can lead to undue stress particularly when one has deadlines to meet.

On the flip side of this, if metro is less crowded, a positive environment can reduce stress levels. But for most office goers, this hardly happens as they travel for the much traditional 9 to 5 shifts.

To prevent these, you can do the following:

– Utilize your time well and do what you like. Read a book, watch a video, listen to music, but all this while, make sure that you do not harm your body. Keep your standing posture correct and do not keep your neck bent for too long.
– Deep breathe 108 times while you are onboard.
– Press these points on your neck and shoulder that help you relieve stress. Read them here.
– De-stress yourself when you reach your office/home by having your cup of coffee or tea or indulging in an activity that relaxes you.

The Cardio Risk

Dr Viveka Kumar, Director, Cath Lab, Max Hospital, Saket, says that metro travelling can have both positive as well negative impacts on one’s heart health. On the healthier side, when one travels by metro, he/ she can avoid air pollution. On the negative side, it impacts the heart, Dr Viveka says.

Hypertension: Most office goers are running behindhand almost every day. The unpunctual Delhiites have deadlines to meet and they start swearing against the metro services even for a few minutes’ delay. Such situations lead to stress and in turn can pump up one’s blood pressure.

On the flip side, if one has not had a proper meal or is under hydrated before boarding a metro, one’s blood pressure could dip due to blood pooling in one’s legs due to standing. Low blood pressure can make people collapse. Dr Viveka said that he comes across one to two such cases of a collapse in metro every week.

Contracting communicable diseases: Dr Viveka said that travelling in the metro exposes one to infected droplets of bacteria that other people can be releasing and can lead to air borne diseases such as chest infections and tuberculosis. You also become more prone to seasonal allergies, common cold and cough and viral fever.

To prevent these, Dr Viveka gives the following advice:

– Before boarding a metro, make sure that you are well hydrated and not on an empty stomach.

– Wash your hands and face every time you de-board a metro. Make it the first thing you do when you reach your office or home.

– If you cannot wash them immediately, use sanitizers for your hands.

– Do not repeat the clothes you wear once during a metro ride without washing them.

– Take a bath in the evening when you reach back home after a day spent in a crowded metro.

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