By now, you should have read and heard about the perils of sitting for extended period of time on a daily basis and the benefits of standing and getting to move a lot. You also should have read the difference between a fixed-height desk and sit-stand desk, and the advantages of the latter from the former (link June 11 article, Why You Need A Sit-Stand Desk). If you’re considering the shift from sitting to standing more often in your workspace, or you have been standing for quite some time and feel some sort of discomfort, then this entry is for you. Dual Monitors Guide will teach you the right way to stand and work on your sit-stand desk.
(image from Amazon)
Though there’s a general understanding of how bad sitting can be for our body and health, there is no really hard and fast rule to stand. Everybody seems to agree that anything other than sitting is better, and that the best positions are the one you’re comfortable doing. There are however, things you can do to better maximize your workspace and get the most out of your standing desk or sit-stand desk.
Because it involves more muscles than sitting, research shows that standing burns up to 40% more calories and spending 2.5 hours on your feet a day can burn as much as 350 calories, which is equivalent to 20 lbs. per working year. However, standing is not all good, as prolonged standing can lead to development of musculoskeletal disorders, which will hurt the lower back, legs and knees. While many people now stand for as long as they feel comfortable, experts recommend a 50:50 sit-stand ration. Here are more tips to balance sitting and standing and to make you more comfortable on your feet without hurting your body.
Take Your Time to Adjust
If you’re new to standing, you may find it really uncomfortable, or even painful to stand for an hour or two straight. This is completely normal, and you don’t have to stress yourself on it, or force your body to stand longer. Your body will need time to adjust to your new routine. Gradually work your way through it. Give your body time to adjust by adding more minutes of standing than your previous week. Before you know it, standing will feel natural for you. Also, this is again, highlights the importance of having a sit-stand desk – the quick transition from sitting and standing will have easier time to teach your body to adjust, as you can stand for as long as you want, and sit if you need to rest.
Maintain Good Posture
(image from LifeHacker)
Though there is no written rule on how to stand correctly to use a standing desk, there are basic guidelines for good posture. To make the transition from sitting to standing more often, you should learn how to maintain a good posture. Experts suggests that, whenever you stand, you should squeeze your bum muscles together, without tucking your buttocks in under your pelvis too far or stick them out behind too far as well. Simultaneously, you need to tighten your core a little, particularly your stomach muscles to around 20%, don’t tighten your stomach too much as you would if you were to expect a punch. Once you have these two on points, let your shoulders roll back by letting your arms hand down by your sides, your thumbs should point forward.
When you work on your sit-stand desk, you should keep your arms at 90° when working on your computer and standing. Your display should be at eye-level, and your computer should be at arm’s length away.
the Importance of Ergonomics and Comfort
Ergonomic is defined as “design factor” in the corporate world, ergonomic dictates comfort and productivity, which can make or break a workstation. Good posture and ergonomics go hand-in-hand. However, comfort and ergonomic don’t have universal standards. What is comfortable for others may feel awkward and uncomfortable for you. Thus, it is important to know what suits you best and know the type of ergonomics your body needs. Ergotron for example, is one of the popular names in workstation solutions that established a name for ergonomically engineered products.
Lean a Little
Standing for hours without taking a break can put too much stress on your legs and lower back, and easily increases the risk of injury. A little hack such as foam padding can make a huge difference. Put some padding on your standing desk and give your body some support for you to lean on. Foam edging will help reduce fatigue. A soft and comfy office chair, padded stool, or perch can also take the occasional load off.
Wear Comfortable Footwear
Our footwear determines two things; the level of comfort as we stand and work, and the subsequent fatigue level. When we stand, it’s usually harder for the blood to get back to the heart, harder for blood to get to the brain, and if you stand on something uncomfortable or cold, you will develop problems in lower part of your body. Obviously, it is not a good idea to stand in uncomfortable shoes. Comfortable footwear will keep your sole, ankle, calves and legs feel comfortable. And if you’re comfortable with your kicks, you feel more productive. If your footwear start to make your feet hurt, change them. You may have to experiment to find the best one that suits your feet best. Some use running shoes, some work barefoot, while others use barefoot shoes. Invest in a good pair of shoes, or better yet, get yourself a pair of Dr. Scholl’s gel inserts to effectively distribute weight on their feet. If you have tried everything you can think of and you still feel uncomfortable, then you may have to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist or orthopedist to get the best shoes that fit your feet’s size, width, curvature, etc.
Pad Your Feet
(image from Ergotron)
The hard concrete floor can cause a lot of tension and strain to your legs and lower back when standing for an extended period of time. Many people counter this by covering their floor with a carpet. Soft and comfy carpets however, can’t do the job in prolonged standing, as they’re simply not designed for such purpose. Hard floor causes discomfort and fatigue as it restricts blood circulation. Your best bet is to get an anti-fatigue mat engineered to withstand your weight for hours, on a daily basis. Anti-fatigue standing mats are designed to improve your lower body’s blood circulation. They come with rubber surface and air pockets that encourages better blood flow by keeping you slightly off balance. Your calf and shin muscles contract as you move and shift your weight from one foot to another on the mat, squeezing the blood through the series of valves, and allow better distribution of re-oxygenated blood at the lower half of your body. Ergotron WorkFit floor mat and Imprint CumulusPro Commercial Grade Series Mat are two of the best anti-fatigue standing mats you can find in the market today.
Raise the Bar
Ever wonder why your favorite pub has a long pole affixed to the bottom of the bar? This make people stay longer! Rotating your hips from time to time locks out knee ligaments, putting all your weight on one leg, while works as a cane to support you. The foot rail keep the neutral curvature on your spine as you rest in one leg in front of the other and bend slightly at the knee. For quicker option, rest one foot on an overturned plastic tote or on a 6-inch stack of phone books, this will minimize the risk of leg and back fatigue.
Have A Routine
As said in our previous post about the benefits of standing and importance of a sit-stand desk (like June 11 article here), the key to standing as a healthier alternative is not at standing per se, it’s in the freedom of movement. It is important that you don’t stand in one position for too long. Moving from time to time is the best way to use your standing desk. Ideally, you should move around your workstation from time to time, and give your feet and legs a rest after around 90 minutes of standing. Try to give yourself mental cues for a more fluid transition between sitting and standing. This is where the importance of having a sit-stand desk gets into the picture. You can time yourself or instill some guidelines to make a healthier sit-stand routine feel second-nature. Also, promote better blood circulation to your lower body by taking walking breaks throughout the day. If you have the budget, you can get yourself an adjustable chair such as Stance Move EXT 50, a chair that supports you as you sit, stand and even kneel.
Stretch Often Throughout the Day
(image from Mayo Clinic)
The same way you schedule moving around and switching positions, you should also schedule stretching throughout your day. In a 9AM to 5PM daily grind for example, you can set your phone or computer to remind you to stretch at 11AM, 2PM and 4PM. Make sure you stretch your arms, shoulders, neck, lower back and thigh. Mayo Clinic has some great tips for office stretching.
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