Why Sit Stand Desks Are Better For Your Back
Join the standing desk revolution.
In the UK today, many adults are spending as much as seven hours or more sitting down which can increase to as much as 10 hours as we age. From sitting in the car on our morning commutes to working in sedentary office roles, there are many areas of our lives where we simply aren’t as active anymore. But our bodies aren’t designed to spend such large periods of time sitting in the same position and it can impact our health and wellbeing in a serious way. From diabetes to certain cancers and heart conditions, it’s important that we increase our activity to prevent such health concerns.
One area of our health that feels the impact of sitting more than any other is our backs, which can become injured from herniated discs, muscle degeneration and neck strain.
But by standing more and implementing sit-stand desks, you can combat these risks and improve your posture and skeletal health. And you may be surprised at just how quickly implementing changes to your office space can occur. Several studies have provided evidence to support that standing even occasionally at work can have a positive impact on the individual’s health. In fact, using a sit-stand desk can actually reduce upper back and neck pain by over 50% in just one month.
Here are some of the reasons why height adjustable desks are better for your back.
Less Stress on the Neck
The spine is naturally an ‘S’ shape but slouching and sitting for long periods without proper posture can lead to it being shaped more like a ‘C’. This places a lot of stress on the back and neck, as it causes the neck and head to protrude forward and the shoulders to hunch over. For individuals who spend a lot of time at desks or sitting in front of a computer, this becomes all the more likely as we often don’t pay a lot of attention to our posture when we’re sitting down. Sitting in a chair with poor posture is often overlooked because the chair does much of the work in holding us up. But it still puts a lot of unnecessary strain on the neck and spine, as well as the soft tissues which support the back.
Standing, however, encourages us to maintain the ‘S’ curve that are backs are used to, which reduces this strain and the stress on the bones and muscles of the neck and back. This is because even if you slouch, you have limited options in terms of the extent to which you slouch which means there is still less stress put on your spine. Many experts agree that switching our posture throughout the day can combat neck and back pain, which height adjustable desks make it easy to do regularly without compromising on your productivity at work.
One of the reasons why sit-stand desks are becoming so popular for alleviating back problems is that they encourage stronger core muscles. We’ve all heard about the importance of strengthening our core but it’s for more than simply better performance in the gym or while exercising. Having a strong core can help you to support your body better, which puts less stress on your back to hold your body up. When you strengthen your core, your lower back also becomes stronger which prevents injuries. Your core is also beneficial in other areas, such as balance, coordination and even brain power such as with spatial awareness. So, if you want to improve your back health, as well as your mental abilities, it’s all about improving your core first and foremost. You may even want to stretch regularly throughout the day to relieve the muscles and keep them invigorated, from kneeling on an exercise ball to stretching your leg muscles by lifting up onto your toes and lowering yourself down a few times every hour. Any movement that you can incorporate into your day is of great benefit to your muscular and skeletal health.
Alternating Between Sitting and Standing
Switching between standing and sitting in the workplace can reduce the amount of physical stress you place on your body. This is because standing while you work keeps you active in roles where you typically would spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer, plus it actually improves your productivity. Adjustable desks have been specially designed to make working comfortable regardless of whether you’re sitting or standing, so you can vary your posture at regular points throughout the day and effectively combat the health concerns that come with sitting down too much. Studies have shown that people using standing desks reduced their upper back and neck pain by as much as 54%, in addition to making them happier and more productive overall.
But don’t go from nothing to an entire day of standing – ease your body in slowly to prevent injuries. Start by standing for just 30 minutes a few times a day and then as your body adjusts, you can increase this to blocks of one hour and more over the coming weeks. Eventually, you will be able to stand for as long as you like without it putting too much strain on your legs and back.
You may also find it beneficial to have a standing mat beneath your feet and to wear comfortable shoes so that your feet and legs don’t become too tired from standing more than you’re used to in the early stages. Make a point of shifting your weight around from each leg and to walk around throughout the day so that your body doesn’t get locked into one position, as this can have the opposite effect that you’re striving for and lead to the very back pain you’re hoping to avoid. If you’re worried you won’t remember, set reminders to get up and moving every hour.