Sitting all day at your desk can cause soreness or pain in your back. Throbbing back pain can make it hard to concentrate or enjoy doing anything at all.
Is a standing desk the solution to your pain problem?
First, let’s look at the correlation between sitting and back pain.
Sitting and Back Pain
We sit all the time from driving, to work, to dinner, and watching T.V. Most of us sit for hours every day and it contributes to significant back pain. In fact, a study by the Cornell Ergonomics Department suggests that sitting puts 90% more pressure on a person’s back than standing does.
Additionally, sitting for long periods of time can reduce important circulation. Also one study shows that the lumbar discs in the back are affected more negatively by sitting than by standing.
People go to the doctor, or avoid going to the doctor, all the time due to back pain. Our lifestyle can make it hard to alleviate the pain and is often the cause of it.
Poor posture just adds to the negative effects of sitting. Sitting causes your hip flexors to shorten and poor posture can cause compression on the discs. This can lead to chronic back pain. Thankfully, standing more and sitting less can help.
Standing and Back Pain
First of all, standing instead of sitting can help us avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Research suggests that a reduction in sedentary behavior, such as sitting, can help alleviate back pain. Considering how much time we spend at work or at our desks, just switching to a standing desk can greatly reduce the amount of time we spend sitting.
Even if you don’t stand all day, alternating between standing and sitting can significantly improve back pain. Also, standing burns more calories than sitting and can help you lose weight. This can help you avoid or reduce back pain because there is a correlation between weight and back pain.
Finally, it is important to consider your habits when talking about back pain. If you are planning on switching to a standing desk, it is best not to switch from constantly sitting to constantly standing, at least not immediately. Instead, start standing more gradually until you are standing up to 50 percent of the time you are at your desk.
The research indicates that standing more and sitting less can improve your back pain, especially if you stand properly. However, you need to sit some and when you do, it is best to do that correctly in order to alleviate your back and neck pain.
How to Properly Stand
There are some things you can do to get the benefits you need from your standing desk. In fact, if you stand correctly your back pain could actually worsen. Instead, it is best to follow these tips.
To make the most out of your standing desk, you need to adjust it to the correct height. This can help us avoid slouching or leaning and ease our back pain. Your head, neck, shoulders, and spine should all be aligned and you should be able to comfortably rest your wrists on your desk while your forearms are parallel to the floor. The computer monitor should be slightly below eye level.
You should also alternate between standing and sitting. In addition, it is a good idea to add movement, like walking or doing some form of exercise, into your workday routine. This will strengthen muscles and help you avoid cramps that can add to bad posture and back pain. Research indicates that the most beneficial ratio is between 1:1 and 2:1 sitting to standing. This means you should stand for 30 minutes to an hour for every hour you sit.
Ease into It
It can be harmful to your back to change immediately from sitting all day to standing all day. You should ease slowly into standing more adding about 15 to 30 minutes more standing time each day.
Read More >> Does Insurance Cover a Standing Desk?
How to Properly Sit
Since it is best to combine standing and sitting throughout the day, it is a good idea to sit in a way that does not put unnecessary strain on your back. Most standing desks can be either manually or electronically adjusted to different heights to make it easy to incorporate both standing and sitting into your workday. Some even have programmable memory buttons that remember your optimal sitting and standing height.
It isn’t hard to start having better sitting habits and doing so can help your back pain tremendously. The first step to healthy sitting starts with sitting on the edge of your chair.
To improve posture, you can then roll forward so that you are slouching. Slowly pull your shoulders and neck into a tall sitting position while pushing your lower back forward. Hold this position for a few seconds before releasing a little bit and your sitting position should remain high.
You can then scoot to the back of the chair while you are still sitting tall. This may feel very uncomfortable and even forced at first, but you should try to sit like this as much as possible, especially if you already suffer from back pain.
Your chair can also make a huge difference in pain. You can purchase ergonomic chairs, but there are some other things you can do as well. For one, you can add a lumbar pillow or rolled up hand towel or a small pillow to place between your lower back and the back of the chair.
This should help prevent you from slouching while staying comfortable. It shouldn’t, however, put you into an awkward position that could harm your back more than it helps it.
In addition, your legs should be parallel to the ground while your feet are flat.You arms should also rest comfortably on the top of the desk. If this isn’t so, you need to adjust your chair accordingly.
The screen should not only be centered in front of your face, but it should also be about an arms length away. The top of your monitor or laptop screen should not be higher than eye level.
If you need it to be a little higher, stack a book, or a few books, underneath it. There are also standing desk options that have a raised level for the computer screen to rest on top of.
Keyboard and Mouse
Your keyboard should be 4 to 5 inches away from the edge of your desks so you have room to type. You should never have to tilt your wrists awkwardly to type. It should be comfortable and natural.
Also, keep your mouse at the same level that your keyboard is on. This can be a little lower than the desktop if it is on a keyboard tray. You can also purchase ergonomically tilted keyboard trays that may help.
Final Thoughts on Standing Desks for Back Pain
A standing desk is a great investment when it comes to relieving back pain. Sitting too much, especially with bad posture, can hurt your back and cause chronic pain.
A standing desk goes a long way to help someone avoid a sedentary lifestyle. It is best to ease into standing and alternate throughout the day. You should also make sure that your standing and sitting habits are correct so that you can free yourself from constant back agony.