Back pain affects a huge percentage of the population today, up to 80 percent of Americans by most estimates. Sitting all day causes the body’s postural muscles (neck, shoulders, back, hips) to weaken. This invariably leads to poor posture, which leads to the back pain so many feel. That is why it is a horrible idea to sit all day. In fact, science has concluded that sitting all day is worse for your health than smoking. Of course not all back pain is the result of poor posture and sitting. Trauma and sports injury cause a fair amount of back injuries. Thankfully, the field of ergonomics has come up with an ingenious solution – standing desks. Here’s more information as to why this particular setup is perfect for you if you suffer from neck, shoulder, and/or back pain and why standing desks work.
Why Standing Desks are a Great Option, Especially for Back and Neck Pain
The idea of using standing desks has been around for quite some time. As early as the 18th century, standing desks were already widely used in the offices and homes of the wealthy. However, companies have begun to realize that standing desks offer many benefits to their employees, including increased productivity and decreased sick days from back and neck problems.
There are plenty of reasons why standing desks are great for back pain. For starters, they keep you on your feet while you go about your day-to-day tasks. That alone already comes with plenty of health benefits; standing enables you to straighten your posture, speed up your metabolism, and burn extra calories. But just as important, the act of standing improves your posture and engages the postural muscles in a way that sitting will never be able to accomplish. While sitting, it is much easier to slouch, thereby creating weak neck and back muscles. But when you are standing, it enables the neck, back, and hip muscles to be activate, thereby preventing the muscles from weakening.
Another reason why this ergonomically-friendly piece of office equipment can help with back pain is that it frees you from sitting and allows the body to move about. Being able to stretch and walk around will do wonders for easing back pain. On the other hand, being trapped and stuck in a chair all day will place limitations on body parts that aren’t designed to be immobile for long periods of time. From an evolutionary standpoint, humans are mobile creatures; our ancestors walked 12 miles daily to hunt and gather food.
Why Standing Desks Work
Standing desks work in various ways to keep your back healthy and pain-free. For one thing, most standing desks are designed in such a way that your computer’s screen will be at the level of your eyes. You don’t need to look down the entire day, saving your neck and your back from strain. Standing desks are also built so that your forearms can be placed on top of the desk and can be maintained in a position parallel to the floor. This helps in keeping up an overall good posture, which will go a long way towards relieving back pain. There are also certain designs which add a footrest at the bottom of the desk and a high chair for you to sit on once in a while. Again, these additions will promote proper posture as you go about your day, keeping back aches and discomfort at bay.
Back pain is a relatively common ailment, but thankfully, a lot of cases of back pain can be made better by using a standing desk. People affected with lumbar pain and upper back aches will do well to by switching to a standing desk design that’s suited to their needs. Hopefully, with the increased use of such furniture in the homes and offices, the future will see a decline in the number of people suffering from back pain.
Types of Standing Desks
There are many types of standing desks, some costing as little as $100 and others costing as much as $3,000 or more. I have reviewed the seven best standing desks on Amazon—all of them are priced under $400 so it should be fairly affordable. There are some other fully adjustable sit-stand desks that are a bit more expensive but are probably worthwhile—I have one that uses a lever to adjust the height, and I LOVE it. I rarely sit when I do work at my desk now.
Ideal Standing Desk Setup
If you do decide to get yourself a standing desk, the illustration below from Fast Company shows the ideal setup for it:
-Monitor should be 20-30 inches away from the face
-The monitor should be higher than the keyboard and tilt a bit upwards to prevent neck strain
-They keyboard should be slightly below the elbow
Tip: If you find yourself looking down at the monitor constantly, instead of straight at it, the monitor is too low and you should adjust. How low is too low? If you have to look down at the monitor to the point where your chin almost touches your chest, then it is too low.
Correction of Posture
Although you may find that standing desks may alleviate some of your pain, it does not reverse already incorrect posture or spinal curvature. That is why you may still feel pain every time you sit back down at a desk. Thus it is important that along with standing more while working, you must also do postural correction exercises. Here are several methods employed by physical therapists and chiropractors to correct your posture that you may find helpful.
- Sitting on a yoga ball while working.
- Sitting on an air stability cushion while working.
- Using a wooden back roller for the lumbar/thoracolumbar while sitting or lying down.
- Using head weights to correct incorrect neck posture and curvature.
- Strength training of the lumbar, pelvic, shoulder, latissimus dorsi, and trapezius muscles
- Doing yoga
- Align the monitor so that you are not looking downward while working.
These are just some of the things you can do in conjunction with standing a little more to enable you to feel less back, neck, and shoulder pain. We spent one-third of our weekdays working. Thus, if we don’t establish good habits for taking care of our bodies while working, then we will destroy our bodies.
This article was written with the help of Marvelous Perez.
Netflix enthusiast, horrible speller, jiujitsu hobbyist, weekend drinker, and occasional poker player. Favorite quote is “[o]ut of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”