The Skinny on Standing Desks

ideal-ergonomics2
Photo: http://www.officesupply.com

 

Way back in 1999, I had the fantastic luck to be rear ended on my way to work., resulting in whiplash.  Bad enough at the time but seventeen years on, I deal with back and neck problems that still plague me.  The only upside to that whole thing was my Honda was in the shop for two weeks and I did get to drive around town in an Infiniti.

Silver lining, ya’ll.

But I digress.  My job requires me to be on the computer the majority of the time.  Sitting in front of the computer for close to eight hours a day is not the best thing when you have a testy back and neck.  It’s also apparently not the best thing if you have a spine in any condition.  Add to that roughly two to two and a half hours a day sitting in the car, any time spent sitting each day for meals and then time spent sitting while reading or watching tv and . . . it’s a lot of time on your backside.  I actually figured out how many hours I was spending each weekday on my ass and it was depressing (and could explain why things were spreading.)

Enter my chiropractor, who gave me a list of exercises for my desk as well as tips to get up at least once an hour.  Good in theory but after one session of desk exercises, that involved me stretching my neck and mouth by holding my mouth open as if I was silently screaming (a lovely display that was witnessed by a client meeting happening at the time), and the fact that when I was working on a deadline I couldn’t necessarily stop and take a break every hour, something had to give.  He told me that I really needed to be working at a standing desk.  I had heard of them and good things about them so I requested a note to pass along to my office and make it happen.  Fast forward about sixteen months and I’m happy to report on how a standing desk works for me.

The first few days standing were a little rough on my feet.  If you’re not used to standing a good portion of your day, your feet may let you know about it by quitting time.  Mine were achy and sore.  The addition of a good mat around my standing desk helped.  I kept a back up pair of shoes in my tote bag, just in case I needed to switch them out, and purchased Dr. Scholls inserts for my shoes.

Once my feet got used to standing, it was a breeze.  I have found that I stand the majority of my day while working.  I do have a drafting type desk chair suitable for standing desks – – it’s fondly known as my Happy Hour Bar Stool – – that I use in ten or fifteen minute increments two or three times a day but most of my day is spent standing (as we were designed to do.)

I feel that I am more productive at work.  I have more energy.  Since I am already standing, it’s easier for me to go retrieve something or take someone papers.  I don’t suffer with the dreaded 2 – 3 p.m. crash, yawning and desperately looking at the clock.  I’m not irritable during the day.  Okay, not as irritable at times; the standing desk can’t be an absolute miracle worker.  I don’t return home from the office with all the energy of a dying car battery and crash on my sofa before 8 p.m.   I don’t eat as much at lunch and I’m not starving and ready to chew on my own hand by the time I park my car at home.

Maybe best of all, my back and neck pain has diminished significantly.  The ever present tension I had around my shoulders and neck?  Gone.

I can’t imagine going back to a traditional sit down desk.  No way, no how.

A quick Google search will reveal many options for standing desks with a varied price range.  You can select a rolling style as pictured above (and what I currently have) or an model that will attach directly to your existing desk, allowing you to use your current chair while seated, and then able to lift the unit up when you need to stand.  The important thing is to find what works best for you and to make sure it’s ergonomic.

And despite what some have said about standing desks stimulating weight loss, it’s negligible; you may burn 10 calories more per hour standing versus sitting.  However, the health benefit is still there – – less stress on your back and shoulders and better circulation.

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