Last year, we published this article on Standing Desks the major health benefits they offer. Our friends at ORTHOCAROLINA, Logan Stewart and Tim Pysell, gave us tips from their own transitions from sitting at work to standing.
A lot can change in a year. For one thing, NPR and a few other outlets published some findings questioning whether the Standing Desk is the infallible answer to all our sedentary ills after all.
But for another thing, everyone and their mother went out and got themselves one of these babies…
… and suddenly, being on our feet and getting 10,000 steps in a day became our obsessive priorities. If you weren’t already motivated to stand and step more by the studies that showed your risk of cancer could be up to 94% higher if you sat for long periods daily, you at least started feeling antsy when your friends were beating you in step challenges.
Curious to see if the Standing Desk was merely a challenging fad, or truly sustainable and helpful for real life people, we circled back to ask Logan (PR Manager) and Tim (PA-C and Director of Physician Assistants) at OrthoCarolina. We wanted to see if they were still using their standing desks, and if so, what they had seen in a year of standing. We also wanted their input as their jobs at OrthoCarolina enable them to know quite a bit more than the average person when it comes to health and strength for your whole body.
Happy to share the wealth, Logan and Tim also referred us to Jeffrey Mallare, a fellow in standing up to work at Transformant Healthcare Solutions, a spinoff of OrthoCarolina located in the same administrative building.
The interesting bit is, not only are all still standing, but they each have had a unique spin on the experience.
1. Corrects posture.
Jeff herniated a disc back in 2009 from a sports injury and has been standing ever since then out of necessity.
“What began for me as a need to heal my injury became a way of working,” he says. “For me, if I don’t use it, my injury and symptoms flair up. Also, I have noticed that standing (if done well) really helps with overall posture.”
2. Trains your body to dislike being sedentary.
Logan noticed that after a year of standing up most of the day, she had lost the taste for sedentariness in general. “I have a hard time sitting for longer than an hour or so,” she says. “I think that’s a good thing!”
Tim also described an increase in feel-good energy. “I just feel better at the end of the day. It is nice not to have to sit to get work done!”
3. Physical health. Studies have shown it can significantly lower your glucose levels all day long.
4. Benefits your work.
Google and Facebook outfitted their offices with standing desks, and reported higher energy levels in the work place and greater productivity.
As the Public Relations manager at OC, Logan felt that the standing desk gave her a boost particular to her line of work. “I am a lot more visible to people as they walk by my open door, so they have to say hello to me,” she laughs.
Turns out, many of the challenges and problems posed by a standing desk are also potential contributors to your overall positive results.
This it the big one everyone universally comments on. If you are not committed to training yourself out of habitual poor posture, you will trade one problem for another in going from sitting to standing. The good part of this downside, however, is you really cannot get away with poor posture at a standing desk like you can when sitting.
Logan learned this lesson the hard way. “The problem is that I went the cheap route,” she says. “I was using a laptop on a stand I bought from Amazon, rather than a desktop on a well-designed standing desk. It was not ergonomically correct. Typing hunched the back of my shoulders up, and I had to gaze downward to look at the screen.”
For Logan, this set-up resulted in some upper back pain. However, she knew the posture problem would not be cured by going back to a chair, so she went on the hunt for a better standing desk.
Jeff’s only complaint was that some tasks really lent themselves better to sitting.
“I find that if I have to really concentrate to read or work on something requiring a lot of cognitive energy, I need to sit,” he says. Jeff is the only one of the three so far who splurged on a high quality, sit-stand desk. His is the Vari-Desk.
Many people who have noticed a need to break up their positions, have ended up listening to their bodies more and using their time more effectively at work.
You can’t find an article online about standing desks without seeing something about the transition physically. People are shocked to find how sore this simple change can make them.
This is big reason why a sit-stand desk model, like Jeff’s, is the most popular.
4. Don’t forget about your feet! Wear supportive shoes and don’t forget the mat. Aside from the risk of injuring the many delicate muscles of your feet, Tim pointed out he noticed some pain in his lower back and other joints when he tried to make the desk work without a mat.
THE ESSENTIALS to Making It Work:
1. See above, re: the mat. “An anti-fatigue or foam mat is a must,” says Tim. Logan and Jeff concur. Without it your feet will kill you, and the pain can spread to other joints and up to the lower back.
2. Exercises. To trouble-shoot the challenges with her makeshift standing desk, Logan took some tips from her PT coworkers at OrthoCarolina.
“I practice balancing on one foot while standing to strengthen my feet,” she says. This helps with the overall foot strength essential for runners. “You balance on 1-and-2 (the ball mounds under your big toe and second toe), while relaxing the other toes.”
Other helpful exercises involve posture checks.
Correct posture involves a neutral spine, with your body evenly distributed, (or “stacked”), and your shoulders back and relaxed (instead of tensed up toward your neck). These breathing exercises are super helpful, not only in creating good posture, but releasing some of that work stress.
3. Switch positions. This tip comes from Jeff:
“You don’t have to stand all the time. I mix it up. Do 45 min standing, 30 sitting, or switch off every couple hours.
Also, dancing. (I’m serious). Jamming out on work and getting a little sway at the same time helps keep the blood flowing. It also helps with the monotony/fatigue that can come with standing still for too long.”
Tim recommends a small stool or footrest so that you can give one foot a break at a time. “I alternate feet to have one elevated about four inches,” he says.
For the truly adventurous soul, the Santa Cruz Wurf Board has rave reviews from desk standers. Bonus, it burns even more calories.
4. Invest in the best. Not only does this ensure your long-term success, avoidance of injury, and immediate comfort, but it can boost your productivity in helping you maintain a pure and uncluttered work environment.
Relax the Back off of Park Rd offers excellent, affordable solutions. For a more aesthetic shopping experience and truly high-end product, Design Within Reach in South Park (near Cowfish) has us smitten.
Douglas at DWR recommends the Renew Executive Sit-to-Stand Desk with Advanced Cord Management, designed by Herman Miller, for Scoop readers.
It comes in three luxurious tones, Walnut, Ash and White, (our favorite).
Inside Scoop: Design Within Reach will be holding their annual Herman Miller sale 11/21-12/12, making the desk 15% off and free shipping.
It seems, once again, that the key to health and success in the workplace is balance and smart little choices that add up. Thanks as always to our friends at OrthoCarolina for their willingness to freely share some of their most effective choices with our readers.
1915 Randolph Road Charlotte, NC 28209
OrthoCarolina has extensive locations all over North Carolina. For a location near you, see the website here.
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