It's no secret that physical therapists often treat pains related to desk jobs (neck, back, hips....you name it). This is becoming more and more prevalent as modern day jobs require extreme amounts of computer work.
In fact, according to the American Heart Association the prevalence of sedentary desk jobs has increased by 83% since 1950!
Despite the well-known disadvantages of sitting, many people are apprehensive about switching over to a standing desk. This is understandable, as the thought of standing for up to 8 hours is daunting. If that's your fear, I've got good news:
Just because you have a standing desk, that doesn't mean you have to stand all day.
In fact, you shouldn't! This is probably the biggest misconception about using a standing desk. A lot of people are hesitant to try them because the thought of standing all day sounds way too exhausting. Luckily, here's the good news: you actually shouldn't stand all day. Any single position held for too long can put more stress on certain muscle groups than others which can cause pain down the road. Don't forget that our bodies were designed to move (which, sadly, was the case for most of human existence up until the era of desk jobs). The idea behind standing desks is that it allows you to constantly move throughout the day between sitting and standing positions.
Whether you're new to the game or have already used a standing desk for a while, try these 4 tips to maximize your ergonomic set up at work:
1. Get an adjustable standing desk so you can alternate sitting/standing.
Avoid using a desk that is permanently raised to standing height. This goes back to the idea that our bodies were made to move. Prolonged standing for hours on end will lead to its own problems. If it's easily adjustable, then you can raise and lower it all throughout the day as needed.
Tip: a good online search might be "adjustable standing desk".
2. Listen to your body.
The most practical advice I can give to anyone using a standing desk, is listen to your body. It's actually really simple: when you feel like standing...raise up the desk and stand. And then, when you feel like sitting again, lower it and sit down! Even if that's every 15 minutes or so. Don't force yourself to stand for two hours straight just because you feel like that's how a standing desk "should" work. Your body is actually really good at telling you what it needs if you'll listen to it.
3. Use an orthotic mat during standing periods.
This is a simple way to decrease joint discomfort as you transition to a sit/standing schedule. I also recommend these for anytime you have to perform extended periods of standing (blow-drying hair, doing dishes, etc.).
Tip: a good online search might be "orthotic kitchen mat" or "anti-fatigue standing mat."
4. Look into standing desk alternatives.
Are you stuck with a permanent sitting desk already? Consider buying a converter to place on top that can raise and lower. Voila! You've got yourself a sit/stand desk.
Tip: a good online search might be "standing desk converter."
Remember: the best posture is a changing posture! As always, please don't hesitate to reach out with any other ergonomic questions.
-The Virtual PT
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