We live in a society that is constantly sitting. We sit in the car to drive to work. We get out of the car, go into work and sit at a desk. We go to out during lunch break and sit down at a table to eat. After returning to work from lunch and sitting four more hours at our desk, we sit back in our car and drive home. After making dinner, we sit down at the table to eat. After cleaning up dinner, we sit down on the couch to relax and watch TV or play on our phones. That is a pretty typical day for most office workers. That is a lot of sitting!
The interesting thing is that this human evolution is a relatively new phenomenon. With increases in technology, busy lifestyles and an obsession with convenience, manual labor is becoming a thing of the past for a large majority of Americans. Reduced physical activity can even be found in occupations that used to involve extreme labor such as farming, where many activities have become highly automated and tractors are climate controlled and able to be operated by GPS. But this all means we are moving forward, right? From a health perspective, we are declining as rapidly as the technology is advancing. Why in recent years have standing desks become so popular?
Standing desks offer a change in posture, encourage recruitment of postural stabilizing musculature and preserve joint mobility while reducing compressive spinal forces.
If you are thinking this sounds good, you guessed right. I am big advocate of standing desks because we live in a culture that is constantly seated. Humans were made to be on their feet and be active. Standing at a workstation is one way to provide relief from unnatural seated posture. However, it is important to ensure that a standing desk is an appropriate intervention before requiring all team members to utilize them. Some individuals may have physical contraindications to standing on their feet all day long such as obesity or lower extremity joint issues. Careful consideration should be practiced when transitioning to a standing desk as well. If this intervention is deemed appropriate for an employee, they should slowly transition into a standing work environment by performing a few hours daily for the first week and slowly progressing to a full standing workday over the course of several weeks. It is important to be mindful that an unchanged standing posture that is assumed for an 8-hour work shift is still considered “static” posture. Changes in posture should occur in regular intervals throughout the day by performing structured movement routines or frequent “micro-stretches.” Additionally, just like a seated workstation, the standing desk must be setup to be an ergonomic match to the individual. Many of the principals that apply to a seated work environment also apply in a standing setting, such as desk/monitor height and item placement.
Before transitioning yourself or your company over to a standing work environment, it is recommended to consult with an ergonomic specialist prior to initiation. Also, it is important to remember that just because a desk may be advertised as a standing solution, it doesn’t automatically mean it is a good product. Do not waste money by jumping at the first product advertisement that shows up on the sidebar of a website. Do your research!
If I can be of any assistance to you or if you have any questions, please connect with me by your favorite platform below. I would love to start a conversation!
Kevin Winn B.S., CIEE, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
Kevin is the Executive Director of HealthWorks Kinesiology and is a Certified Industrial Ergonomic Evaluator (CIEE), Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and a Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT). Kevin holds a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Health Promotion from Louisiana Tech University.