Is your Stand Up desk really making a difference to your health?
“Our sedentary workplace lifestyle is killing us one keystroke at a time”
You may have heard doomsday statements like these relating to our office habits. Broad generalisations pointing to sitting as being the culprit for our end of day physical discomfort. Rather than addressing the fact that as humans we should not be in one spot for 8 hours a day, product gurus have generated the quick solution of stand-up work spaces. If you have not seen these, they are desks (either fixed or adjustable) that employees have the capacity to work at standing for some portion of the day.
Standing Slack is the new Breaking Bad.
Now whilst I am a proponent of using ones legs for their intended design, the issue with these workstations is not the idea behind their creation but the fact that the user is generally not taught how to use it properly when it is provided to them. “Use it properly, don’t you just have to stand?” In essence the answer is yes however when our mind is on our work tasks rather than the act of standing itself, we run into the same issues as when we work from a seated position. We become “slack” in our standing posture, not utilising our supporting muscles to keep us upright. This places additional pressure on our joints (mainly the back and knees) which eventually results in pain. What ends up getting the blame in this situation is again not the postural issue but the Stand Up desk that doesn’t work as it’s supposed to. Newsflash - The Stand Up desk is standing just fine, you aren't though.
Learn to subconsciously stand
If you don’t want your stand up desk become just another piece of ornamental furniture acting as a conversation starter in the office then use this simple trick to address the underlying issue with standing technique which is leading to discomfort. We don’t want your mind to be taken away from the work tasks you are performing so we must subconsciously encourage the supporting muscles to engage. To do this:
1) Find a mini-band or theraband and bring it to your work station. They come in many differing lengths and strengths so for clarification it's resistance should be strong enough that you feel there is a force actively pulling your legs together when it’s around both of your legs and your feet are shoulder distance apart, yet not so much as where its cutting off your circulation. Try the band before you buy as it will be as useless if it doesn't provide adequate pressure
2) Find a comfortable position in front of your stand up desk, bring your feet together and bring the band up above your knees (As shown in the picture).
3) Take your feet apart to your shoulder width position, where you feel the force pulling your legs together. Engage your work with a smile and begin.
Thank goodness for Einstein
By the laws of physics, tour body to stop us from falling over in this situation must apply a force equal to that of the band. In doing so our mind is subconsciously turning on our supporting core muscles, leading to a more active standing position and thus less detrimental “Slack” standing. You will become surprisingly fatigued in utilising this trick however that indicates your body can only tolerate correct standing for that period of time, signalling that it’s time for a break. Have a 5 minute rest,(in sitting if you wish) however return back to this technique as quickly as possible. Aim to spend half of your day standing with the mini band to start noticing results. Just like every form of activity you will become conditioned over time to where theoretically you can stand for 2-3 hours actively without fatigue.
Bryce Finck is a digital health & wellness consultant that is Enterprising, Energetic and Elite. Co-Founder of Stack Health, his mission is to allow experts to communicate with their clients digitally from any location, forging lifelong professional relationships that improve people’s lives. An avid traveller, musical lyricist and smile enthusiast you can connect with Bryce personally by his email firstname.lastname@example.org.