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Stand Up for Yourself!

Standing Workstations -By Brett Qualls, PT, DPT, OCS

In the past several decades we have seen a shift in technology in many areas of our lives.  This increased reliance on use of computers and technology has resulted in many people becoming more sedentary in their work life.  A large number of people are glued to their computer screen for hours on end.  Desk work may not carry the most grueling of occupational hazards.  However, sitting at your desk all day can actually take quite a toll on your body.  The longer that we sit at our desk, the more likely we are to see things like neck pain, back pain, and headaches arise.  

Recently, we have seen an influx of options for a standing workstations.  Many of these offer a the ability to adjust the height of your desk to allow for either sitting or standing work at your desk.  These are known as sit-stand workstations.  This allows you to vary your posture during the day (or spend in standing).  Subsequently, there have been several studies recently that have shown that there are actually several health benefits to using a sit-stand workstation.

One of the major findings from these studies is a reduction in neck and back pains with use of standing workstations.  We know that prolonged sitting is something that can wreak havoc on your neck and back.  One study found a 54% reduction in neck and upper back pains within a span a four weeks with a sit-stand workstation.  Likewise, a similar study revealed a 32% reduction in low back pains with three months of using a sit-stand workstation.  Imagine that!  You get the same job done but have fewer aches and pains at the end of your day!

Using sit-stand workstations has been found to reduce fatigue, increase energy levels, and to improved mood.  Is it time for the team to chip in and buy your grumpy boss a sit-stand workstation? Studies show improvement in mood with standing workstation use in as little as 30 minute increments throughout the day.  There really is something to be said about being seated and stationary and mood.  Even I can become a grouch if I spend too much of my day sitting at my computer screen.  

The transition from a seated to a sit-stand workstation needs to be thoughtfully considered.  You want to make sure that your technology will handle the transition from the traditional desk height to standing.  You also must ensure that the desk is stable enough to handle your work style when elevated.  This is especially for those of you that type like you are still on a manual typewriter. Next, create a plan how you will transition from full-time sitting to your new and improved varied work station.  Think about a new pair of basketball shoes, you have to break yourself in slowly.  Generally starting with several 15-20 minute bouts of standing is a reasonable suggestion, you can then progress from there.

There are currently several good options when it comes to sit-stand workstations.  Therefore, having the option to raise & lower your workstation easily through the day would be one of the top priorities in making your selection.  While a sit-stand workstation may not change your work like drastically, it may be just enough for you to feel better at the end of your work day.  I say that its time to take a serious look at a standing workstation.

*Copyright Havasu Living Magazine

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