Studies have shown the average American sits at least 10 hours a day and experts conclude this may lead to an increase in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and musculoskeletal problems. Because of this, standing desks have become more common in the workplace. Although standing is generally better than sitting, standing desks still need to be adjusted properly to maximize benefits and reduce the risk of injury. If you’re thinking about making the switch, here are some tips to make a smooth transition.
#1. Ergonomics: The height of the table should at least be waist high so that when you bend your elbows to 90 degrees, the keyboard is at a comfortable level. With regards to the computer screen, the top 1/3 of the screen should be at eye level when looking straight ahead.
#2. Start slow: Progressively increase the frequency and duration of how long you stand. Your body needs to adjust to this new position because suddenly standing for long periods of time can feel uncomfortable, especially in your feet.
#3. Don’t lock your knees: When we stand in one place for a long time, our legs can start to get tired. We may or may not notice but when this happens our knees tend to lock. This allows our body to rely on the knee joint to keep us upright rather than our muscles. Overtime, this causes increased pressure in the joint which can lead to pain on the inside or outside of the knee and/or cause patella tendonitis.
#4. Stretch: When we stand, our calf muscles are also constantly engaged to prevent us from falling forward. If these muscles aren’t stretched, you may start feeling pain in the heel or the bottom of the foot. A simple calf stretch you can do is to find a wall and position your feet in a stride stance (like you’ve taken a step.) Place both hands on the wall with toes straight ahead. While keeping the back heel on the ground, bend the front knee to feel a stretch in the calf of the leg that’s behind you.
#5. Engage your gluteal muscles: By squeezing your glutes together, you externally rotate your femur which prevents the arches in your feet from collapsing. This movement also helps you engage your abdominals which helps support your low back while you stand.
In the same way we “actively sit” with good posture, we also need to be aware of good standing mechanics for injury prevention. Feel free to leave questions and comments below, thank you.