Standing & Desk Ergonomics: Hacking Your Workspace to Stay Comfortable
The Sit-Stand Desk Revolution
Even if you are a generally healthy person who keeps fit, studies suggest that all the benefits of even daily exercise can be undone by sitting for extended periods of time at work or at home. In fact, sitting for more than 6 hours each day can make you 18% more likely to die from diabetes, heart disease, and obesity (compared to those sitting less than 3 hours).
For better or worse, the modern day workplace is predominantly centered around desks, screens, and seated workspaces. But that doesn't mean we are helplessly destined for a slow, seated deterioration! Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep healthy and fit at the office.
Benefits of Standing Desks
Standing desks are all the rage these days (sitting is the new smoking, after all). You may have a coworker or friend who uses a standing desk and has told you all about it. Research shows they might actually be onto something!
Many users of adjustable standing desks report feeling:
87% more energized
71% more focused
66% more productive
Using a standing desk for even part of the workday can make a big difference in your well being and your work-life. Companies have found that standing made people 10% more productive! Is that a promotion coming your way?
Standing Desk Tips
So you've made the healthy choice and decided to try out a standing desk. Everything is magically better now, right? Not so fast. It's possible to have bad posture and body position at a standing desk just like a regular desk.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind to maximize the health benefits of a standing desk:
Try to keep your neck looking straight ahead while you work so that it's natural curvature supports your head.
Keep the tip of your shoulders in line with the arch of your collar-bone bone so it feels like your should blades are almost tucked into your back. This will prevent you from straining your shoulder muscles degrading their natural supportive strength over time.
Be sure to be aware of your posture. Leaning forward or hunching over too much will lead to back pain. To help prevent poor posture, make sure your screen is an appropriate distance from your eyes or try to make text larger if you are straining to see.
Typically elbow pain is caused by workstations that are too high or too low. Aim for a height that allows your elbows to be a few inches above the typing surface.
Never use your wrists to support your body! If you get tired take a break, walk around, or do some stretches. Your hands should hover just above the keyboard and mouse while you work.
Hip, Knee, & Ankle
Standing for 8+ hours a day can be just as rough as sitting that long. It's important to have an anti-fatigue mat that will keep you moving throughout the day. You want to make sure that you are constantly shifting your weight and wearing comfortable shoes so that blood can flow freely. If you want to jazz things up you can also look into getting an anti-fatigue custom logo mat with your companies logo.
The best standing desk mat in any anti-fatigue mat
Remember that aches and pains while standing typically start from poor lower body stability and move up towards laziness in upper body posture. Be sure to look into a solid anti-fatigue to make sure your body is stable and moving throughout the day.
But you can't sit all the time, or can't always get the desk you want, so we have provided some tips for maximum sitting desk comfort.
Sitting Desk Tips
Again, let the natural arch of your neck support your head and maintain your gaze straight ahead as much as possible. Keep your screen aligned with your vision to help relieve neck and eye strain.
Elbow & Wrist
Unfortunately most desks are much higher than where our elbows and wrists tend to hover when we're sitting at a desk. You'll want to find a desk that allows you to freely hold up your shoulders and elbows (so supporting muscles don't get weak). Consider a wrist support to help position your hands over the keyboard without strain.
Try to hold your body position slightly in front of your hips so that your lower back muscles are engaged. Consider setting a "posture check" timer to remind you to straighten your posture at certain intervals until you have developed the habit.
Keep your shoulders tucked in. If you your shoulders are too far forward it will cause your neck and the rest of your body to start hunching forward. This will cause shoulder pain as well as neck and back strain over the course of a day.
Hip, Knee, Ankle
Your feet should be comfortably resting on the ground. Be sure to find a position the maintains good posture and keeps your body free from soreness.
Hand Positions For Typing
After hours of working at a computer typing and using a mouse, you may experience pain in your wrist or fingers. No matter if you are sitting or standing, you can reduce your chance of wrist pain by following these tips:
Keep your wrists hovering just a few inches above the keyboard
Hold your arms at an almost 90% angle from your elbow to your wrists and palms
Do not bend your wrists upwards or downwards to rest on the keyboard. Keep your arms, wrists, and palms parallel to the floor and let your fingers fall naturally to type. Consider a wrist supporting pad if necessary.
Do not fray your hands outwards at strange angles; it will cause wrist pain.
Do not fray your hands inwards; it will cause shoulder and neck pain.
Stay Healthy, Comfortable, And Pain-Free At Work
If your work constrains you to a desk in front of a computer, have no fear! There are still plenty of ways to keep healthy, comfortable, and pain free at the office. You can use a standing desk with an anti-fatigue mat or you can optimize your seated position for good posture and wrist placement.
No matter what, be sure to get up and stretch at least once an hour. Even better, move around a little! Play ping pong or do some bodyweight exercises like squats or pushups. Play with the office dog (if your company allows it) or otherwise do something to put a smile on your face.
Take control of your health by taking control of your workspace. By making small changes to your working habits, you can increase your happiness and productivity. You may even find you enjoy your work even more!