Standing Desks: A possible solution to limiting poor posture

Physical TherapyCurrently, the new and popular item that seems to be taking the workplace by storm is the standing desk. Standing desks are widely available and most employers/home owners are opting for the popular alternative to sitting desks. There are many health benefits that have been proven by research as to why to opt for a standing desk as opposed to the traditional sitting desks. It has been researched and linked that people with sitting desks have higher risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and decreased lung capacity1,2,4.

It is a common problem for most people to fit exercise into their busy schedules, which results in increased time sitting in front of the desk or at the computer. Not only does that affect one’s health risks negatively, but also puts stress on a person’s posture due to increased difficulty maintaining an upright posture. Naturally, we all tend to “slouch” forward at the desk to maximize comfort, but by doing so, we are increased the load and forces on our spines. A recent study performed by Buckley et al2 compared two days of monitoring capillary blood glucose in responses to sitting vs. standing. This study found that by simply standing in a sedentary position rather than sitting for the exact same amount of hours, you can burn an additional average of 170 calories. If you calculate what that is per week, it totals to just under an extra 1000 calories per week. Overall, the metabolic disease risk is reduced for those who use a standing desk compared to a sitting desk.

Furthermore, low back pain has been highly correlated to sitting desks and posture. Try it out, ask ten of your friends that work at a desk if they have low back pain. More likely than not, most of them will likely tell you that they have or have had low back pain at some point. When we sit at our desks, we are putting the position of our lumbar spine in a more “curved” position where we are increasing the stress on our spine. A randomized control trial performed in March of 2016 by Ognibene et al3 found that chronic low back pain patients responded well and reported decreased pain after usage of a standing desk for 12 weeks. Additionally, another study in September of 2018 performed by Alamin et al1 took radiographs of twenty asymptomatic subjects of the lumbar spine. They found that patient were most comfortable in a kneeling chair which most closely approximated standing.

Overall, standing desks are the new “hot” item of the past four years and will continue to gain momentum for increased health benefits. Standing desks are continuously being researched, however have numerous articles that suggest these desks have lower metabolic disease risks, improved curvature of the lumbar spine1,4, and decreased pain.

References:

  1. Alamin, Todd F, et al. “The Effect of Standing vs. Variants of the Seated Position on Lumbar Intersegmental Angulation and Spacing: a Radiographic Study of 20 Asymptomatic Subjects.” Journal of Spine Surgery (Hong Kong), AME Publishing Company, Sept. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30547112.

 

  1. Buckley, John P, et al. “Standing-Based Office Work Shows Encouraging Signs of Attenuating Post-Prandial Glycaemic Excursion.” Occupational and Environmental Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24297826.

 

  1. Ognibene, Grant T, et al. “Impact of a Sit-Stand Workstation on Chronic Low Back Pain: Results of a Randomized Trial.” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26735316.
  2. Pronk, Nicolaas P, et al. “Reducing Occupational Sitting Time and Improving Worker Health: the Take-a-Stand Project, 2011.” Preventing Chronic Disease, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23057991.

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