Standing Desks…Are they really the solution to back and neck pain?
Sitting at a desk for long periods of time has been labeled the “quiet killer”, worse than smoking these days. As a result, standing desks have become extremely popular to combat the effects of sitting. But are standing desks really the solution? First, we need to determine what is really going on with our bodies when we sit to really understand.
Our bodies will adapt to almost any situation. If you sit all day long, your body adapts to your position. Your posture begins to round, then the shoulders round and then the chest tightens due to the lack of movement. The body adapts by limiting range of motion and tightening muscles that are shortened regularly. You lose strength in the muscles and can cause tissue damage. In the end, you experience tension in the back and neck, ultimately leading to pain.
While sitting can be the cause of common neck, shoulder, and low back pain, you should remember the issue is really a lack of movement.
So are Standing Desks the solution?
The answer is yes and no. It’s not the only solution, but it can help many desk-bound workers alleviate low back and neck pain.
While standing will help with a lot of issues (poor posture, tissue damage, tight quads/hip flexors), you can’t switch to a standing desk and expect your pain to go away. Your body will adapt, but you should know that standing 8+ hours per day leads to its own set of problems, specifically with feet, calves, legs, and back.
The ideal solution is a combination of standing and sitting, as well as getting on a regular exercise program. Simply put, you need to move more!
Baudry Therapy Center does suggest standing desks, but there are some things to consider before purchasing one. You’ll want to buy one that offers flexible height adjustment so you can alternate between periods of sitting and standing. Once your desk arrives and you’re ready to set it up, you should consider some basic ergonomics.
Proper Standing Desk Ergonomics
- When standing, your desktop should be roughly at the level of your elbows.
- Your desk surface should be clean and clear of clutter.
- If you read forms or papers frequently, you might look for a tool which would hold the paper up, next to your computer screen, so you don’t have to look down at it repeatedly.
- Your monitor should be set directly in front of you.
- The top of the monitor should be at your brow level.
- You may also consider an anti-fatigue mat, which offers an unstable surface that keep the leg constantly in motion.
- This constant motion goes practically unnoticed and allows us to stand longer with less detrimental effects.
- If you are on the phone a lot I would suggest a headset
- While using the phone keep your neck in an upright position.
- Set an alarm for every hour to remind yourself to move around. This could be a few squats, a trip to the water cooler or a quick walk around the block.
- Have a set of reliable stretches/movements that you use throughout the day as needed to get relief.
At the end of the day, a standing desk can certainly help your neck, back, and shoulder pain, but to truly alleviate it you need to move more! If you are experiencing pain and want to get a jump-start, call Baudry Therapy Center today. We can help you with one simple consultation.
If a standing desk is just not for you, click here for 4 Tips on how to help your back and neck pain while sitting.