Sitting vs. Standing Workstations & Your Spine

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: September 11, 2017

Standing Desk and Your Spine

A large portion of the American workforce sits behind a desk all day. Our bodies are meant to be active, and staying seated for long periods can cause problems for your spine. This led to the advent of the standing workstation, but research has suggested that they aren’t a cure-all for spine pain. So how can you best treat your spine at the office?

Sitting Or Standing?

If we had to choose just one option, we’d lean towards the standing workstation, but that doesn’t mean it’s a perfect option. That’s like asking if you should only eat fruits or vegetables. Of the two, you’ll probably be better off with vegetables, but you’re going to run into plenty of problems if vegetables are the only thing you eat for the rest of your life.

Like other aspects of your life, moderation is key. When it comes to your diet, you want to eat from all the food groups and get a wide variety of healthy vitamins and nutrients every day, and ideally you’d complement your nutritional program with regular exercise. The same goes for life at the office. If you can get a sit-to-stand workstation, work standing up for a couple of hours with a few seated breaks in between. Then maybe sit down for lunch before working on your feet in the afternoon. If you just sit or just stand, your body is going to be stressed, so switch it up when you start to feel uncomfortable.

Posture and Breaks Are Key

Whether you’re sitting or standing at work, if you want to avoid spine pain, you need to ensure you have good body positioning and posture. Your head should be positioned directly above your shoulders, which should be directly above your hips. If you are hunched forward on your desk or leaning down in your chair, you’ll begin to feel it in your neck or lower back because these areas are tasked with displacing the extra stress. Perfect posture isn’t always the most comfortable, but instead of slumping or leaning, try to swap from seated to standing or vice versa to avoid maneuvering to a position that’s stressful on your spine.

The other key to avoiding spine pain at your workstation is to switch it up as often as comfortably possible. I have colleagues who say they stand for an hour, sit for a half an hour and then begin standing again. Other colleagues take their phone calls standing up, while others walk around the building during their lunch break. Variation is key.

Minnesota Spine Surgeon

You don’t need to try to make it so you’re standing and sitting for four hours each day at the office, but if you are doing one action for the vast majority of the time at the office, try to switch it up when possible. This will take stress off areas of your spine that are used to handling the most weight, and it will help strengthen other areas of your body. Variation and posture control, combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise, are the best ways to keep your spine healthy if you have a desk job. And if you have any questions or begin to develop some back pain, don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office for a consultation.

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