Work Injuries

Sit-Stand Desks and Spinal Health

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Sit-stand desks are coming around, especially with many working from home. Sitting is not a bad thing; it is just that we do it too much. Whether at home or work, too much-sitting causes health problems and musculoskeletal problems, which can lead to chronic back pain conditions.

Too much sitting has been compared to smoking, and sitting in front of a computer for hours and hours has led to 85% of workers reporting discomfort/pain/ health issues at work. Fortunately, there is hope for the modern-day office known as the sit-stand desk or a standing office desk. Individuals are rapidly discovering the benefits of this ergonomic tool.

Sit-stand desks encourage workers not to sit as much and stand for a while. This generates a spectrum of spine health benefits that range from reducing pressure on the back to burning a few extra calories just from changing positions. Here are some key things to consider when investing in an adjustable desk.

Get a new sit-stand desk or a unit that sits on top of my desk

This depends on the amount of space that is available. Investing in a stand-alone sit-stand desk can make sense if there is plenty of room to spread things out over a large desk area. If the current desk is suitable for you, a sit-stand desk on top of the existing desk may be the better option.

Height Adjustment

It’s essential that the height of the desk can be adjusted. This has to do with different sizes for different work tasks. For example, an individual could prefer one height for writing and another when working/keyboarding on the computer.

Ultimately the content depends on those using the desk. If the desk is going to be used by others, then it’s essential that the height can be adjusted to meet the needs of those with different sizes and work preferences. The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association recommend that the height range be 22.6″ To 48.7.”

Depth of the desk

Depth is the front-to-back tabletop distance when facing the desk. A good choice is a desk that has a minimum depth of 30. This allows those who prefer more desk space to spread out the work. However, smaller depths are available.

Weight capacity

Sit-stand desks are built to handle the weight of the usual desktop items:

  • Computer
  • Monitor/s
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Speakers
  • Phone

With heavy items, it’s best to review the weight restrictions of the desk you will be using. Weight restrictions vary, but there are all kinds of desk models to fit your needs.

Desk budget

This depends on your budget, work purposes, and quality. Sit-stand desks can be found at a wide range of prices. Opting for the cheapest desk is not the wisest thing to do. Remember, these desks are an investment in the spine and overall health. Consider the quality of the desk and how long it will last, along with a warranty to protect you if the desk malfunctions.

What to look for

Sit-stand desks come with all kinds of options in terms of quality and convenience.

Noise level:

If a quiet work environment is important, look into desks that offer a peaceful action/transition when switching from sitting to standing and vice versa.

Speed:

Some desks can take a long time to switch. Be careful with these because the use of the full functionality can diminish because of the length of time it takes. Look for the quick adjustment type.

Manual vs. electrical:

Some desk models operate using hand cranks, locking switches, etc., while others use electric/pneumatic lifts to raise and lower the desk with a power button. The method of movement chosen will have a distinct impact on the ease of use, speed, and noise level.

Programmable:

Some desks can be programmed with height preferences to be set to the desired position and saved.

Customization:

A one-size-fits-all desk may not be the best option if the desk needs to function around privacy screens or specialized office equipment. This is something to consider if the desk needs to fit perfectly in an established environment.

Keeping the desk in the standing position

Some individuals may feel better standing all day. However, standing for long periods does as much damage to the spine as sitting all day. The best approach is to vary postures over a workday.

  • After sitting for an hour, get up and move around.
  • If you’ve been standing for a while, take a break and sit.

That is what sit-stand desks are made for. They are made to promote changing positions throughout the day, which is the best thing for the spine. Be prepared for a transition period. Standing at work can bring some unexpected fatigue if you’re used to sitting all day.

Getting into the flow of working while sitting, standing, then going back can be a bit daunting. The goal is to slowly build up the amount of time standing, switching to a sitting position, and getting comfortable doing it. Things that can help with the transition are wearing supportive shoes or getting custom foot orthotics, and using an ergonomic foot mat to make the transition more comfortable.

It will be a short-term adjustment, but the long-term benefits are well worth it. Employers and employees, along with their spines, will be very thankful.


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The information herein on "Sit-Stand Desks and Spinal Health" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

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