The Rise of the Standing Desk

Working as a Remedial Massage Therapist in Sydney CBD, I have noticed an increasing number of my clients are telling me they have recently opted for a standing desk at work.
Many city workers find that long hours and high pressure leads to chronic back pain, and therefore choose to vary their position more during the day to try and resolve the problems caused by being too still and, typically, hunched over a computer.

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And they are indeed correct that a standing desk will bring more variation to your posture and can be a great factor in reducing postural pain, particularly in the shoulders and neck; but it does depend on where the pain is coming from, so I thought I would share with you my thoughts on the rise of the standing desk.

Postural implications

Everyone knows that sitting for long periods causes ‘bad posture’ – if this is you, please read our recent article on postural pain. Not everybody appreciates why though and that it’s not necessarily the seating that is the issue, it’s the length of time you spend in a position that causes postural pain. Naturally, we would be on the move way more than we are, our bodies are designed to move.
So the implications of a standing desk are that you will increase the length of time standing, and therefore, increase the pressure on certain parts of your body that are, commonly, not as strong as the areas you use most.
By opting for standing daily, you are increasing the pressure on the lumbar (low back) region, which can lead to more frequent lower back pain and stiffness. This generally is because we have weaker abdominal than lumbar muscles, so, when stood, instead of our backs being supported by a strong and straight structure, we tend to arch the back and throw the centre of gravity of balance, meaning our lower backs support our entire upper body weight and movement.
To attempt to counteract the increased feelings of pressure in the lumbar region, a natural human antic is to swing our weight into one leg, or the other, or one to the other (are you standing right now? See if you are doing it!), some people tend to cross one leg over the over, or over extend one knee whilst the other goes slack. All these positions will reduce lumbar stress and the potential of Lordosis (an inwardly curved lower back) but they do, in turn, cause an uneven pattern of tension to spread through the body, starting in the legs and pelvis and effecting everything right up to the neck and the position of the skull.
I know what you’re thinking; “oh no, so I’ll just keep getting problems, is there no release from the pattern?” – Well, there is. With a few simple steps, you can transform your back pain for good.

Stand up for a Straight posture!

1. The first thing to remember is, good habits take a little time to form, so work on building them with subtle reminders on your computer, a post it note etc etc.
2. Look at your feet, they should be both pointing forward, about hip width apart
3. Bend your knees, they should go over your feet, not to the side of them, work first of all to get your feet and knees in a good position, then, as you rise, focus on your pelvic floor muscles, by tucking your tail bone under to increase the length of your spine and engage your essential core muscles
4. See your pubic bone tuck forward and raise slightly as you draw your tail bone under (see image – go from a to b!) and stand up straight. Follow this line from the pubis up through the naval and to the sternum, lifting and elongated your spine as you do
5. Check your pubis and sternum line up (see skeleton image) and are one above the other. Lifting and positioning your sternum correctly takes pressure off those tight shoulders you have been battling with since you had a sit sown desk, as it puts your head back on top of your spine!remedial-massage-therapist-sydney-cbd
6. Finally, imagine a string coming from the centre of your skull, lifting your head tall and proud and lengthening through the spine.
7. Now you are straight, how does that feel? Tightness in the pelvic area? A few small pelvic thrusts – actioned by drawing on the core and clenching the glutes, will loosen it up

Once you have reached your ‘happy’ posture, adjust your desk to fit with it. Assure you check frequently that you are engaged in the core, just give it a little pull if you aren’t, you’ll get a nice tight tummy as a bonus and a strong back to support your standing days.
Do check that your standing desk (or any desk) provides are support for when you are using the computer, so tuck in tight to the desk and have an arm rest, otherwise, when arms ‘float’ you are liable to get elbow problems and RSI (repetitive strain injury) from keyboard and mouse work.

Don’t forget to take regular breaks, stretch once or twice a day at least and get regular massage at our Sydney CBD Remedial Massage & Physio clinic, where we will give you tailored advice on how best to work on your posture to reduce work related pain

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