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Healthy You

Ergonomic Benefits of Standing Desk

Ergonomic Benefits of Standing Desk

Womenlines takes pleasure to welcome Dr Sumiran Passey, MD (Sports Medicine), Director and Medical Doctor, Aktivhealth, New Delhi, India, as a Guest Influencer for Fitness segment at Womenlines! In this informative article, Dr Passey is sharing about ergonomic benefits of a standing desk and what you have to take care while using it-

Workstation ergonomics is the new fad in establishing a healthy work environment. Companies focus on increasing the efficiency of employees by promoting health and wellness. “Sitting is the new smoking” was promoted by many healthcare individuals to reduce the sitting hours, which is a well-established public health concern. A sedentary lifestyle associated with prolonged office-based sitting has been liked to an increase in morbidity, obesity, and chronic cardiometabolic diseases. 

Work from home with extended work hours has spiked the queues of low back and neck pain cases with physicians and physical therapists. Along with numerous musculoskeletal issues, psychological sanity has taken a great toll too. Past researchers have reported a high incidence of depression and anxiety, with prolonged sitting and a sedentary lifestyle.

Sit-stand computer-based workstations are been extensively used and are a good ergonomic change to overcome the musculoskeletal issues.

The long term use of sit-stand workstations has shown significant improvement in cardiometabolic parameters, such as improved glucose levels, increased HDL and reduced cholesterol levels as well as homeostatic balanced blood pressure. Those who have experienced long hours of sit-stand variations reported improved posture and significant core stability. The psychological benefits are still been studied, but changes in depression and anxiety scores are encouraging. A study in an elementary school in the United States of America has shown high mean energy expenditure using a standing desk among children. 

Ergonomics of a standing workstation

·      Forward-facing posture

·      Desk height should be below elbow height, to support forearms while you use a keyboard. (Wrist straight, hands at or below elbow)

·      Arms should be close to Your body

·      Monitor should be such positioned that you do not arch your head and neck and your eyes should be at top of the screen and placed at least at arm’s length away from you.

·      Those who use bifocals, lower the monitor by just a few inches for better viewing. 

·      Change your complete orientation if using multiple screens so that the prolonged stress to neck muscles is reduced. 

·      Extensive phone users should avoid cradling the phone between your head and neck.

How to switch to a sit-stand workstation. 

·      Our body needs frequent postural change to avoid fatigue and a permanent slouch. 

·      Whenever you feel fatigued, standing for short periods (~10 minutes every office hour) 

·      Increase standing time gradually till you hit your comfort zone. 

·      After acclimatization switch between sitting and standing more frequently. 

So here are a few things you can do right at your desk

Stretch and Rotate the neck

Bend your neck to try and touch your ear to your shoulder, but make sure you don’t touch the two. Hold for a few seconds; repeat for the other side.

Turn the Torso

Towards your right and left, each time holding it for a few seconds.

Stretch

Your hands interlaced, reach for the ceiling, stretch your body upwards.

Extending your right hand, bending it over your head to the left, and then stretch.

Hold for a bit and then switch sides.

Bend over your knee or Hug your knees

By bringing them to your chest and grasp both your ankles; bend your head between your knees and hold for a bit.

Stretch the chest

Take both your hands to the back and grasp, sit up straight and hold for a10 seconds.

Tucking your tummy and squeezing gluts.

The “ideal” way to stand is with your feet forward instead of flared out, actively try to  “screw” your feet into the ground, glutes and abs slightly contracted, and shoulders externally rotated 

To maintain a good standing posture, muscle fatigue should be overcome by maintaining a good base of support and balance as well as by strengthening the spinal muscles around the trunk (core and gluteal muscles). Stabilization exercises should always be gradually progressive and if required supervised. These could later be incorporated even while standing along with breathing exercises. 

Remember good footwear (low heeled with comfortable cushioning or customized insoles) plays an equally important role in maintaining a good standing posture.  

Long-standing also comes with many vascular issues involving lower limbs and affects those with underlying cardiovascular conditions, so take rest, stretch and sit at intervals. Weigh the benefits of standing over prolonged sitting and sedentary lifestyle at work. 

Dr. Sumiran Passey

 Dr. Sumiran Passey 

MD (Sports Medicine)

Director and Medical Doctor, 

Aktivhealth, New Delhi, India

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