We’ve written before about how sitting is seriously bad for your health: Sitting for extended periods of time can put you at risk for obesity, weight gain, heart disease, diabetes and early death. It can also compress your spine and make back pain worse. The obvious solution to this problem is to sit less, and one way you can reach that goal is with a standing desk. In this post, we take a look at how effective standing desks are at relieving back pain and consider the science behind this possible solution.
What exactly is a standing desk?
Simply put, a standing desks lets you stand while working! They’ve gained popularity in the last few years, and many are adjustable so you can move the standing desk to an ergonomically-correct position for your shoulders, neck and arms.
Do standing desks reduce back pain?
We see patients every week at our chiropractic clinic in Vancouver who are suffering from lower back pain. One thing they often have in common is that they spend too long sitting at a desk every day while working.
Sitting for extended periods can compress the spine, leading to pain and an increase in back issues. It can also result in poor posture and cause pain in the shoulders and neck.
Can switching to a standing desk help? Possibly — one study concluded that people who used a standing desk for multiple weeks reported an improvement in back pain of over 30%. Another study by the CDC discovered that people who used a standing desk for four weeks experienced 54% less neck and back pain.
While these findings certainly are positive, it’s essential to understand that standing desks are not for everyone. Spending less time sitting and more time standing can help take pressure off the lower spine and improve posture, but conditions like scoliosis and bulging discs require a greater intervention and treatment to fix.
What are the downsides of standing desks?
As your body adjusts to using a standing desk, you may experience a bit of discomfort in your feet, hips, legs and even your back. It may take a bit of time for your body to adjust to the new position, but alternating between standing and sitting throughout the day can help you get used to your new desk comfortably.
Remember that posture is important even when standing. Keep your screen at an appropriate height to avoid shoulder and neck issues. The screen should be straight ahead of you. Your forearms should rest comfortably on the desk at 45-degree angles, and your spine should naturally curve as you stand. Avoid leaning over the desk, and keep your feet comfortable by investing in a padded mat.