8 mistakes made with standing desks – part 2
This post follows on from “8 mistakes made with standing desks – Part 1”. Office life can play havoc with our bodies as we haven’t evolved to sit down for 40 hours a week.
When the body is static the muscles used for moving do not engage, resulting in increased blood sugar levels, fewer calories burnt and reduced blood flow. We sit in seats that hold our bodies up for us as we slouch against them, reducing the amount of work that our muscles need to do to hold us upright. With 50% of the UK workforce eating at their desk and 80% of us feeling like we spend too much time sitting we have an epidemic of systemic disease brewing in our offices.
In contrast, the perils of standing desks are that the weight-bearing joints are being loaded for long periods, which may lead to wear and tear over time although no longitudinal studies have proven this. These joints include the knees, ankles, hips and most importantly, the spine. If the joints in the spine degenerate then a wide range of neuropathic issues can develop, from Sciatica to disc prolapses.
If you or your company have invested in standing desks then the following tips, combined with the previous post, should help you to keep your colleagues to maintain good posture and stay active at your desks.
5. Standing still
Standing for 8 hours at work can be just as harmful as sitting for 8 hours at work because of the extra pressure on your weight-bearing joints so give your body a break by moving. Walking meetings, stretching routines, walking to the cafeteria or coffee shop and of course sitting for short periods can all give your body a break. Moving also allows you to walk away from your computer, even if only to the water cooler and come back with greater focus for the work at hand.
6. Only having a standing desk
Although the initial cost of a standing desk can be quite high, if you have a reason to actively prevent or treat a MSK condition then extra equipment is worth the investment.
Anti-fatigue mats offer extra postural benefit by helping to take the pressure off your knees and ankles. Tablet stands, wireless keyboards and ergonomic mice help to reduce the pressure on your spine and peripheral joints by bringing your tech to you as opposed to you twisting and contorting to go to it.
7. Not sharing with work colleagues
Having a standing hot-desk in an office or per group of staff is one answer that can help to minimise costs and get staff used to the practice. If a staff member needs a change of environment the standing hotdesk can give them a break from sitting. However, in order to set up their desk specialist training may need to be provided, lest further damage be done.
In order to negate the disadvantages of both positions, it has recently been recommended that a combination of both is employed in the form of sit/stand desks or a standing hotdesk that staff can share.
8. Using a laptop on it’s own
In order to have a good posture the neck and upper back need to be in a neutral position. Laptops do not promote this neutral posture because in order to use one your arms and neck must be rather close together.
Using an external keyboard and external mouse combination allows two things:
- You can keep your arms by your side which reduces the strain on your upper spine and back muscles and
- Your neck stays upright, reducing the pressure on the discs, muscles and ligaments as they no longer have to pull your neck back.