Have you ever wondered how much time we spend sitting? According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, 80% of employees in the United States have physically inactive jobs. Moreover, they continue to lead a sedentary lifestyle even after work: in transport or at home in front of the TV. In general, an average resident of Austin and other states sits about 15 hours a day!
As a sedentary lifestyle is becoming a routine of our time, it’s getting more critical than ever to add physical activity throughout the day. Such a lifestyle often results in many problems — loss of energy, back pain, poor blood flow, obesity, poor posture, tech neck, and more.
To mitigate the risks of these health issues, experts recommend alternating sitting and standing work. This is where a standing desk should help.
In this article, you will learn what types of sit-stand desks are available today, standing desk pros and cons, and valuable tips on how to work best while standing.
Types of Standing Desks
Today, you can choose from different types of standing desks available on the market. Let’s take a closer look at the most popular options.
Fixed height desks
As you might guess from the name, a fixed standing desk has a tabletop located at a certain height. The obvious disadvantage of such a desk is the lack of adjustability.
Standing desk converters
The next option is a standing desk converter. This is a mini-desk standing on the work surface of an existing desk. This increases the size of the entire workstation and allows you to work comfortably while standing.
This standing desk type is the simplest to implement. In addition, it is the most cost-effective option.
Adjustable height desks
Recently, standing desks with adjustable height have appeared. Thanks to a unique design of such a desk, you can raise it to the desired height, making it convenient for people of different heights, minimizing the risks of back pain and neck pain, and good for posture.
Adjustable desks differ in the way of raising the tabletop to a certain height.
Hand-cranked standing desks
There are hand-cranked standing desks that require manual effort to adjust the height to the desired level. To do this, you need to change the position of one of the sections, applying a certain effort.
Powered standing desks
If you don’t like the idea of putting effort into a desk height adjustment, consider an electric standing desk. Powered standing desks look like a regular table at first glance. What makes them unique is an electrical height adjustment of the tabletop. You can choose the location of the tabletop depending on a person’s height.
Want to incorporate more movement into your work environment? A treadmill desk is a perfect solution for combining work and physical activity. With it, you will burn a sufficient number of calories while working.
Pros of Using a Standing Desk
So what exactly are the standing desk pros? Let’s take a look at the primary health benefits they provide.
Reduced stress on the spine
It’s not a secret that prolonged sitting can lead to back problems, osteoarthritis, neck pain, and other diseases. These are the common issues a chiropractor deals with. By sitting for an extended period, you are loading the same joints and muscles. As a rule, chiropractic adjustments come in handy in such cases.
Alternating between sitting and standing work may help your body redistribute the load and reduce the risk of back problems. In particular, using adjustable desks should lessen the stress on the muscles and frame of your back.
Released pressure on the neck
When working while sitting, people often complain about having a tech neck. As most of our jobs involve digitization, employees regularly experience neck pain from programming and the other tasks performed in front of the computer.
Using a standing desk should minimize the symptoms of tech neck by reducing the pressure from your back and neck.
Maintaining good posture
One of the most significant standing desk pros is preventing your spine from bending. Any chiropractor will tell you that prolonged flexion is not good for back health. Depending on the condition of your back, they may recommend chiropractic adjustments.
Using a sit-stand desk can help you decrease the load on your spine. And it’s a great way to maintain a good posture as well.
Losing excess weight
Sitting for an extended period does not burn calories sufficiently.
As your body works harder than before during the standing work, you will feel more energized and alert. While standing, a person burns up to 30% more calories than while sitting.
At the same time, if you have regular physical activity, you can enhance the result significantly. Regular exercises improve blood flow and speed up metabolism.
Strengthened cardiovascular system
Constant work in a seated position may exacerbate problems with the cardiovascular system as well. Due to muscle weakness, blood supply worsens, and vascular tone decreases. This, in turn, may lead to such problems as coronary heart disease, chronic hypertension, and atherosclerosis.
When working while standing, the core muscles are in tension during the working day, producing a positive effect on blood flow and helping to improve the saturation of joints and tissues with nutrients. As a result, standing up enables you to stay alert and energized for longer.
Improved focus and productivity
Increased productivity is one more potential benefit of using sit-stand desks. According to a study by Texas A&M University, using height-adjustable desks boosted call center productivity by 46%.
So, in addition to getting relief from back, joint, and neck pain, switching to a standing desk will help you reduce fatigue from the same type of activity. Such changes in the body position can significantly stimulate brain activity and help you look at familiar things from a new angle.
Cons of Using a Standing Desk
Along with the standing desk pros we have outlined above, there are potential drawbacks of using standing desks. They include tiredness and sore feet at the end of the day. As a rule, people experience them in the early stages of adaptation to this new work style.
Let’s look through these side effects in more detail.
Increased load on spine and joints
With prolonged standing work, you can feel a constant load on all joints, bones, and muscles of your body, resulting in lumbar and joint pain.
Regular physical activity will help you stay less prone to these kinds of pain. Also, to minimize the occurrence of back and joint pain, you may want to try chiro in Austin. Professional chiropractic adjustments will help you maintain health throughout the body.
Leg and feet soreness
After a day of excessive standing work, you may end up with sore feet. If you are experiencing soreness, using an ergonomic mat to stand on can help. It is usually beneficial to alternate sitting and standing.
However, It is essential to understand that you may feel sore feet and even pain for the first 3-4 days, which is okay. To minimize further development of pain, try movement every hour such as walking, stretching, or light exercise..
Finally, be sure to bring a pair of supportive shoes to your workspace to make standing less tiring to your feet.
Increased likelihood of the varicose veins
Along with sore feet, standing in one position for too long may lead to blood flow disturbances in the lower extremities. So, the blood may stagnate in the vessels.
Here is a study conducted in Denmark, according to which prolonged standing increases the risk of varicose veins.
Lower back pain
Constant position throughout the day can lead to lower back problems due to compression of the discs. Our chiro specialists in Austin deal with such issues daily.
To prevent these kinds of problems, use an ergonomic chair that will help you better support your lower back.
Visiting a chiropractor in Austin is another way to deal with lower back pain. Chiropractic adjustments may come in handy to improve your overall well-being.
Change of established habits
After all, the transition from sitting to standing work can be challenging due to established habits. During meetings or conferences, it feels natural to chat while sitting. Moreover, most conference rooms initially assume sedentary work.
Next, you will likely find it challenging to use the keyboard and mouse as it takes a while to get used to. It can also be difficult to work with paper documents, use your phone, or perform multiple tasks at the same time while you are standing.
In addition, if you enjoy having lunch right at your desk, it might be way more challenging to do it while standing.
How to properly prepare your workplace for standing work
To work comfortably while standing, you need to adjust the height of the desk and the position of the screen properly to help you prevent back and neck pain from programming and other types of work. Failure to ensure these conditions may lead to poor posture, tech neck, and increased load on the spine and joints. These problems are often the reason for seeking a professional chiropractor.
Here is how to adjust the desk height and position the screen properly:
- The working surface of the table should be at such a height that you can bend your elbows at an angle of 90 degrees when working;
- Make sure the screen is at a distance of 50-70 cm from your face;
- At least, this distance should not be less than the length of your hand from the tip of your middle finger to the elbow;
- Next, tilt the screen back to 10-20 degrees, and make sure the top of the screen is at eye level, so you don’t have to stretch your neck or tilt it down;
- If you are using a laptop, the keyboard should be at the level of your elbows.
How long should you stand at a standing desk?
If you suddenly switch to work while standing throughout the day, you may experience tiredness, sore feet, or pain in your back. Therefore, it is best to start with 30-60 minutes a day and gradually build up the time.
In the future, it is also optimal to alternate between standing and sitting while working. Here are the possible options: alternate between sitting and standing every half hour or 2 hours sitting, then an hour standing.
This way, you will gradually get relief from back, joint, and neck pain (particularly neck pain from programming and other computer-related tasks).
Minimizing the harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle: general guidelines
Besides using standing desks, there are other ways to prevent the health risks associated with prolonged sitting. The main recommendation in this regard is to have physical activity during the day.
According to the guidelines from the US Department of Health and Human Services, every adult needs to ensure the following:
- Moving more and sitting less;
- Getting aerobic activity (such as walking, biking, or swimming);
- Doing muscle-strengthening activities (by using weight machines or your body weight).
Also, consider visiting a professional chiropractor. Combining holistic chiropractic treatment and massage techniques, chiropractic alignments aim at improving tissue and muscle health. Remember, chiro is a preventive treatment and is more than just reactive action for your health. So the sooner you start seeing your chiropractor, the more benefits you will reap from this treatment.