An interesting phenomenon has been popping up in offices across the country. Or should I say people have been popping up out of their chairs? Standing desks are enjoying a burst of popularity right now as people try to live more health-conscious lives and the negative effects of sitting are becoming well established. Spending your life sitting down in a dark room, staring at a computer is a great way to be overweight, depressed and at greater risk for a bevy of serious health problems. But is a standing desk really the solution? Well, that depends.
How are you standing?
Standing with bad balance can actually lead to many of the same pain and posture problems that sitting with bad posture can. You want to stand with your chest out and shoulders back, but not unnaturally so. Do not lock your knees but keep your legs even and slightly bent. Try not to cock one hip out by shifting your weight to one side or the other. Any of these habits will make switching to a standing desk futile for solving your alignment problems.
Is your standing desk customized to you?
Part of the problem with sitting all day is we are at one-size-fits-all desks. Our necks strain because we have to look down at the poorly positioned screens. To make sure your standing desk is helping correct these kinds of mistakes, set your computer screen at eye level. Also, put your keyboard and mouse on a surface that you will reach with your forearms being at a 90 degree angle to your upper arms. These small adjustments can make all the difference.
How much are you standing?
While standing too much is probably preferable to sitting too much, it does come with its own issues. Biomechanist Katy Bowman, author of “Move Your DNA,” says, “Swapping one static position for another isn’t as big of a step towards healthy as it might seem. You’re still not moving much.” Standing all day actually has led to pain and bad posture in many who have jumped on the standing desk train.
The best solution then is a balance of sitting, standing and moving. Some standing desks are set up as variable desks that can adjust up and down depending on if you want to stand or sit at the moment. This is a good middle way because your body can avoid the stress of too much time in either position. In addition, it’s very important to move away from your desk for at least a couple minutes every hour. It could just be a trip to fill up your water bottle or visit the bathroom but you should make sure you are not standing and/or sitting in the same place all day.