Are Those Stand-Up Desks All They’re Cracked Up to Be?

We’ve all heard it, and we’ve heard it for years. Sitting for too long is bad for your health. In fact, studies suggest that being sedentary for long periods of time can damage your heart, pancreas, digestive system and brain. Too much sitting has also been connected to leg disorders (like varicose veins and blood clots), back, neck and hip problems, an increased risk of herniated disks, and even a higher incidence of type 2 diabetes. Additionally, with millions of Americans working at desk jobs, that’s bad news for a lot of us.

Enter the standing desk, also known as the stand-up desk. Being in a standing position encourages more movement, which can help counteract the risks of a sedentary lifestyle. The benefits of a standing desk can include better posture, reduced lower back pain and feeling more energetic. You may even burn more calories just by standing instead of sitting.

So, what’s the down side, if any?

First of all, there’s the confusion of various study results. A highly-cited 2018 study in the Journal of Epidemiology found that “occupations involving predominantly standing were associated with an approximately two-fold risk of heart disease compared with occupations involving predominantly sitting.” What’s more, standing all day at a desk can lead to foot, leg and ankle problems. And if you suddenly switch from sitting all day to standing all day, you risk developing back, foot and leg pain. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of Ergonomics found that standing at a desk for a long period of time can create “discomfort and deteriorating mental reactiveness.”

So what’s the answer?

It seems the best approach is a combination of sitting and standing. Some experts suggest that, rather than completely replacing your office chair, you should simply focus on moving more. Taking more frequent breaks and walking around several times during the workday may be all that you need.

If you’re set on using a standing desk, though, you should opt for a variable desk that lets you combine sitting and standing. Use it in the standing position for just 2-4 hours of your workday. Also:

  • Stand properly—don’t put all your weight on one foot or lock your knees.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that provide plenty of support
  • Position your computer screen to between 20 and 30 inches away from your face
  • Don’t lean over—this will cause strain on your back.

If you’ve been using a standing desk and are experiencing foot, leg or back pain—or if your desk job is causing you problems—contact us at 941-792-1404 or request an appointment here.