Standing More to Relieve Pain
“Sitting is a lethal activity,” Dr. James Levine, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., told the New York Times in 2011.
The evidence that standing is good for you is traced back to research in 1953 that compared the health of bus conductors and bus drivers. Drivers were more than twice as likely as conductors to suffer heart attacks.
Do you think you move a lot? Check out this “How Much Am I Sitting” quiz put together by Biomechanist, Katy Bowman. You may be shocked about how little movement you have in your day. Katy states that to reduce the risk of cardio vascular disease you need to stop sitting a high percentage of your day.
Dr Vijay Shetty, orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine expert at L H Hiranandani Hospital, says standing is definitely better for the body than sitting. “When we sit, the entire weight is loaded on our lower back which leads to back aches. When we stand, the weight is evenly distributed between the hips, legs and spine,” he says. “Also we spend more energy while standing so it helps in losing weight and it also aids digestion.” He adds that he asks patients who come to him with backache to stand up every 45 minutes at work. Read more.
Standing at your desk has many advantages over sitting all the time. For those who suffer from pelvic pain this is an opportunity to give this area a much needed break. Standing desks can give you the flexibility to stand and move around and when you go from walking to sitting, your rate of caloric expenditure drops by a third to almost as low as it can go.
So part of the idea behind a standing desk is that it will increase low-level physical activity throughout the day. Standing might not seem like exercise but small moves add up as demonstrated by the research on non exercise activity theromogensis or NEAT.
Let’s look at the standing desk
Some standing desks are definitely better than others—Lifehacker looks at the top 5 best standing desks in this article.
Want to make your own desk? Here are some creative ways to do just that!
Here is the Oristand – this is a great inexpensive way to have a desk at work. Oristand is a new standing desk conceived by entrepreneur Ryan Holmes, the founder and CEO of social media startup Hootsuite. It costs just $25, and hard to believe but it is just made of cardboard!
Check this out! A screen on your desk? Yup. Stir’s desks have sensors that detect your presence, and the screen shows how much time you’ve been at the desk, both in its sitting and standing modes.
Lie back, relax, and get to work with Altwork, a crazy configurable desk! Check it out, you can actually lay down and work! Altwork can be customized with add-ons like side tables, laptop mounts, and storage, with an option to mount up to four monitors. It can be used with Macs or PCs.
Before we head into transitioning to a standing desk you may want to read this article by the Alignment Monkey for some great standing desk ideas and sitting postures.
Tips for transitioning to a standing work station:
Do you know where your pelvis should be?
Try this: Let your pelvis shift forward, feeling more pressure in the front of your feet. Now shift backward until you feel more pressure in your heels. That’s where you want it. Feel the difference? This should help you avoid foot & back pain, and develop a healthier pelvic floor.
Ditch the heels! Even a small heel throws off your alignment. Stick to flats. Get comfy shoes, or even better, go barefoot. Consider keeping a comfy pair of flats at the office that you can change into them to stand. If you need more reasons why to not wear heels, read it here. Katy Bowman has great information on alignment and foot pain issues due to wearing heels. The following article, “No Pain, No Gain: High Heels Can Lead To A Dozen Foot And Leg Injuries” by Chris Miller, has a brilliant graphic showing the effects of high heels on the wearer.
Consider a no heel shoe. Petra Fisher, a REstorative Exercise Specialist, suggests if you move naturally, you need feet that are able to move naturally too. That means foot coverings that interfere as little as possible with the way your feet work. She did an article in 2015 devoted to minimalist footwear and how to transition to them. She has done a lot of research, so please check it out – Choosing Shoes for Healthy Feet.
If you cannot go barefoot at work, consider using one of these no heel shoes. New Balance Women’s WO80 Minimus Trail Running Shoe
Start small. A good first goal is to stand for one hour a day while at work. Consider using this E.ggtimer and stand for 3 – 20 minute intervals. Do that for the first week. Then increase it to two hours–either two separate one hour shifts, or else a two hour shift straight. Gradually work your way up until you find a standing amount that feels right for you. And be prepared to experience a firm tightness in your meniscus, the padding in your knees that absorbs pressure—it will fade over time.
Kelly Starrett, DPT warns in the article “6 Ways to Fight Fatigue While Using Standing Desk” that it’s important not to try to stand in one position for long periods of time. Instead, it’s a good idea to constantly be moving about. “Your best position is your next position,” he says.
Stand with care
First, learn how to stand in alignment. Outsides of your feet straight, weight in your heels, and feet pelvis-width apart. Check out this link, or book an alignment session with a Restorative Exercise™ Specialist like Petra Fisher or Jennifer Gleason Blue to help you get your standing posture correct! I made a template for my feet on the floor. I have placed a foam roller in between the markings and align the sides of my toes with it to have a sense of where I need to be.
Stretch a few times throughout your day. In the beginning, you may want to schedule these stretches, as it is easy to forget to do them. For a nine to five workday, consider setting your computer or phone to remind you to stretch at 11a.m., 2p.m., and 4p.m.
Many people like the Kangaroo Pro Junior as the best standing desk as it slides up and down from standing to sitting height like a breeze.
Ergnomics. It’s important to put your keyboard and monitor at the appropriate heights. If you don’t you may actually cause neck and back problems. To determine your ideal height for your monitor and keyboard, stand up straight, and bend your elbows so that your forearms are parallel to the ground. Wherever your hands are, that’s the ideal height for your keyboard. And whatever is at eye level, that is your ideal monitor level. Create your desk around those dimensions. Find out “How to Turn Your Desk Into a Standing Desk” Stephany Aulenback.
Take breaks. You will probably get sore & tired in the beginning. You don’t have to stand the whole day. If you alternated between sitting and standing every 30 minutes, you would cut your sitting time by 50%. The point is to move your body through a variety of positions throughout the day. Take a stretch break, maybe sit on a stool or exercise ball for a bit.
Try and get in the habit of swaying or rocking–not too much but enough to get your weight moving around a little bit.
Get a standing mat. They can make a huge difference in your comfort throughout the day, especially when you start standing at extended stretches of time. Sublime and Imprint and Genuine Joe are ones you could try. You could also consider using a kyBounder. It is a soft, supple, springy mat. Its reactive crumple zone allows the foot to sink in deep and springs straight back to its original position. The kyBounder encourages the body into constant, minute movements to maintain balance and posture.
Since we are talking about standing…Consider making your own cobblestone mat. I found this great idea on Katy Bowman’s Facebook Page. It was made by Lisa Gillispie. It is a great way to start introducing the joints and muscles in your feet to a little more action in your day. The uneven surface gently stretches and mobilizes your feet. There may even be some health benefits, like a reduction in blood pressure and balance improvement.
Katy also had another great post on a Topo. It is a standing desk anti-fatigue mat with calculated terrain features designed to drive natural, healthy movement. This would be great for stretching out your calves as you work. You can pre-order it here.
Spread those toes. According to Petra Fisher at Movement Revolution, stiff, unfunctional feet tend to go hand in hand with hip, back and foot pain. She recommends spreading your toes to relieve pain. She explains how to do it here.
Consider using a Pivot Seat. Focal (Canada) is a great place to purchase this. The Pivot Seat keeps you active all day. The Pivot Seat’s weighted base is built with active stability, so it responds to every move you make.
Now That You Are Standing, Get Moving
So you are now standing more but you also need to get moving. Here are some excellent tips for sitting a little less during the day I located at Live Science:
- Instead of sending an email or picking up the phone, get up out of your chair to ask your coworker that pressing question.
- Make a coffee (or water) date with a coworker at a set time each day. Or, instead of sitting down with your cup of Joe, take a few laps around the office.
- Set an alarm at your computer for around 3 p.m., and when it goes off, get up and go for a walk. Don’t allow any excuses for missing your walk (unless, of course, you’re in the middle of a performance review or presentation).
- Never take the elevator when you can take the stairs. It may take a little more time, but that’s time that your body is working, instead of just sitting there doing nothing.
- Plan more active things to do than watching television after work. If it’s a nice day, take a walk. You can also plan a fun family activity, such as bowling or min-golf. It’ll be a great bonding experience that will get you all out of your chairs for at least an hour.
Bringing the Standing & Movement Culture to the Workplace
We are starting to see campaigns urging individuals and companies across Britain to convert “Sitting time” to “Standing time” whilst in the office. Other countries are also trying to follow suite.
Workstation Popcorn – One of the favourite work hacks on the Buffer team is workstation popcorn. You start your day with a to-do list, then plan your list around different cafes, coffee shops, and workstations, popping from one to the next once you’ve completed a set of tasks. Now this is a pretty cool idea. You can read more about it here.
Research and Articles on Standing Versus Sitting
Dr John Buckley, an exercise physiologist from the University of Chester, conducted a survey in which he asked 10 estate agents to stand up for three hours a day. Their blood glucose levels were lower; their heart rates were faster, so they were burning more calories. Buckley believes that standing helps against cardiovascular disease and cancer, and boosts productivity.
According to 2010 research published in the journal Circulation, sitting down for just an additional hour every day may increase your risk of dying over a six-year period by 11 percent. This study tracked nearly 9 thousand Australians and found that other risk factors (including age, sex, education and smoking), did not significantly alter the risk factors of sitting for that extra hour. An American Society for Nutrition study released in 2012 had similar findings.
Another 2010 study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that men who sat for six hours daily had a had a 20 percent higher death rate over a 14-year period than those who sat for three hours or less per day. Women who sat for at least six hours were found to be 40 percent more likely die during the study.
Kilpatrick and colleagues found that there was a significant relationship between rates of psychological distress and sitting. Employees who reported sitting for longer than 6 hours per day had increased prevalence of moderate symptoms of anxiety and depression relative to those who reported sitting for less than 3 hours a day. (Article)
Emma Wilmot of the University of Leicester, in Britain, to carry out a meta-analysis. This is a technique that combines diverse studies in a statistically meaningful way. Dr Wilmot combined 18 of them, covering almost 800,000 people, in 2012 and concluded that those individuals who are least active in their normal daily lives are twice as likely to develop diabetes as those who are most active. She also found that the immobile are twice as likely to die from a heart attack and two-and-a-half times as likely to suffer cardiovascular disease as the most ambulatory. Crucially, all this seemed independent of the amount of vigorous, gym-style exercise that volunteers did. (Article – The Economist)
Stamatakis and his colleagues studied 4,512 adults who answered questions as part of the 2003 Scottish Health Survey. Researchers asked how much leisure screen time the people took in each day, which included watching TV or DVDs, playing video games and using the computer. After 4.3 years, there were 325 deaths from all causes and 215 cardiac events.
Additionally, the researchers found that the people who spent more than four hours a day sitting in front of a TV or computer in their spare time were 48 percent more likely to die from any cause, and 125 percent more likely to have heart problems over the study period, than people who spent fewer than two hours of leisure time in front of a screen. (Article – Life Science)
A study published by David Dunstan, a researcher at the Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, found that breaking up prolonged periods of sitting with two minutes of walking every 20 minutes made a big difference. After feeding his volunteers a sugary meal, he discovered that people who had been walking in this way had blood-glucose levels almost 30% lower than those of people who had remained seated. (Article – The Economist)
Two Canadian researchers findings revealed two truths about sitting too much. First, this is about cumulative, daily time in the saddle, whether that’s your desk chair, couch, plane seat or porch swing. Some people who sat for fewer than eight hours total each day were shown to have a 14 percent lower risk for eventually getting sick enough to be hospitalized. Second, mixing in regular exercise can erase some of the damage — even if you’re still generally sitting your life away. (Article – NBCNews)
Science has come to tell us that sitting all day is terrible for your health. What is alarming about this evidence is that extra physical activity doesn’t seem to offset the costs of what researchers call “prolonged sedentary time. “Everything Science Knows Right Now About Standing Desks or Your-chair-is-killing-you-here-s-what-you-need-to-do-to-stop-it.
WINSTON CHURCHILL knew it. Ernest Hemingway knew it. Leonardo da Vinci knew it. They liked to stand and work. (Article – The Economist)
Great article by Rachel Krantz from Bustle, Are Standing Desks Really Healthier? 8 Things You Should Know Before You Renounce Your Chair “Whether it’s sitting all day or standing all day, it’s the ‘all day’ part that’s the problem,” McCann tells Bustle. “What’s important is that you’re never stuck in the same position for too long and are practicing interval standing. Balance and moderation is key to proper desk use.”