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Sheltering Arms Blog

Is a Standing Desk Right for You?

Posted on: November 7, 2018 by Robert Moss

By: Jody Schorr, PT, MSPT

Recent advertisements and articles tell us that sitting all day at a desk job is very unhealthy and may lead to the following:

• Weight gain or obesity (Sitting burns 80 calories per hour)
• Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes
• Back and neck pain from poor posture
• Tight muscles from constant sitting
• Increased risk of some cancers

Enter the standing desk craze. Standing desks have become popular due to these recent reports, but do they really have benefits that outweigh sitting and improve health? There are pros and cons to standing all day:

Pros:
• Burns more calories (88 per hour)
• Improves productivity
• Improves mood and energy

Cons:
• Fatigue (Standing is more tiring than sitting)
• Back, leg, and foot pain from long periods of standing
• Neck strain if not properly positioned
• Increased varicose veins, leg swelling, and load on the circulatory system
• Decreased fine motor skills (For example, accuracy with typing, etc.)

The consensus is that a standing desk is not a good solution for most people. Most of us are not in shape to stand all day; we have weak core muscles and tight hip muscles from so much sitting that our standing posture is not optimal and may lead to low back pain. So, what are we to do?

Movement is the answer! Our bodies were not made to be stagnant, whether that’s sitting or standing all day. Moving allows workers to get out of the stagnant position of sitting and use muscles that are tight while we sit.

The best solution for someone with a sedentary occupation is to stand up and walk or move every 20-30 minutes for at least two to four minutes each time in order to use large leg muscles and increase circulation. This can be easy to achieve if you set alarms on your phone or appointments through your email calendar to remind yourself to get up and move.

Experts often recommend designating a specific area in an office building for employees to utilize during the day to do some exercises, which improves productivity and decreases fatigue. We can also break up static positions with specific stretches and exercises that counteract all the sitting we do. Here are a few stretches to try during the day when you get up from your desk:

• Chin tucks

• Hamstring stretches

• Shoulder blade squeezes

• Hip flexor stretches

If you need help developing a movement plan or easing pain from too much sitting or standing, the therapists at Sheltering Arms can help! Call (804) 764-1000 or click here to request an appointment today.