8 mistakes made with standing desks – part 1
So standing desks aren’t the future, they aren’t for everyone, but those who like them love them (I’m even known to be a fan myself).
They are somewhat of a novelty item in the UK workplace, with less than 1% of offices owning one. In comparison, 90% of Scandinavian office workers have access to one and the White House has invested $700k over the next few years to energise and mobilise their staff.
However bad for you sitting has been labelled (“Sitting is the new smoking”, anyone?) recent research has proven that standing all day is no better for you than sitting all day, albeit for different reasons. Standing means that blood flows better, more energy is expended and muscles are utilised more for balance. On the flipside, as gravity would have it, the weight-bearing joints in our body have more pressure placed through them. As a result joint-related wear and tear in the lumbar vertebrae, pelvic bones and knees may be more likely.
As such, prevention is better than the cure so read ahead if you have a sit/stand or standing desk, or are thinking of making the jump.
1. Too much too soon
The transition from sitting to sit/standing should be a gradual one. Your muscles need to get used to their new range of motion gradually, especially those in your legs, feet and back, otherwise you will feel worse from jumping in at the deep end.
Week by week you can increase the standing periods incrementally to allow your body to acclimatise to the new posture
Your new desk is meant to promote healthy posture, not enable poor posture! Stop leaning on the desk with your arms, crossing your legs or bucking your hip to support you. Each of these habits place more pressure on joints in the spine and neck. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and, if possible, avoid locking your knees to make your leg muscles work harder.
3. Not having a workstation assessment
Unless you have a good understanding of what good posture feels like or the areas that need to be adjusted it’s good practice to have an objective assessment from a DSE assessor. Staff can be trained to be internal assessors in large companies but for smaller businesses an external assessor will be far more cost-effective.
So you noticed that we offer workstation assessments as one of the services at Office Osteopaths! They are an employer obligation for good reason. Poor posture is a huge cause of back pain in the office, meaning more time off, reduced morale and engagement, meaning lower productivity and reduced profits. It can affect all staff, no matter what equipment they use, sitting desks, standing desks, even (and especially) those in the field or with long commutes to work. What use is investing in expensive equipment if the employee goes off sick from a work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WMSD) still?
- Employees with existing back pain can treat the cause.
- Staff without back pain can reduce the risk of developing an injury..
- The average compensation payout of a work-related RSI injury in the UK is around £8,000.
This may be considered a part of point #3, but it’s a big enough problem to mention separately. The whole point of a standing desk is to ensure that you change your posture from being slouched forward on a chair to being in an upright position with better spinal posture. In case you didn’t know, slouching is not good posture.. Good posture at a standing desk can increase blood flow, boost your productivity and make you feel better within yourself.
Small reminders, like post-it notes and regular phone alarms can help you to contract those glutes, bring your shoulders back and unlock your knees.
Keep an eye out for part 2 in the next week for more tips.