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Broadgate spine & joint clinic news

by Alan Jordan

Sit-Stand Desks – Flavour of the Month?

Sit-stand desks have been around since the late 1980’s but have recently become exceedingly popular. In my chiropractic practice I have had more enquires about these desks in the past year than in all of the years since they hit the market. In this blog I will take a look at what we really know about their efficacy.

Common Sense

You don’t have to be an ergonomist to conclude that sitting at your desk all day long and then sitting for most of the evening at home is not good for your general health and I am not only referring to back pain.

A recent systematic review that summarised all of the available information on this topic has been published in preventative medicine.

Among the many interesting findings in this important were;

  • Work tasks such as number of words typed per minute did not differ from traditional sitting to standing desks. So, we can work just as effectively standing as sitting!
  • Mood improvement such as fatigue, tension and depression were less at standing desks but returned to usual levels when workers returned to sitting desks. Our bodies and brains prefer to stand!
  • Since the researchers were unable to identify any negative effects of working at standing desks they concluded “”thus have no detrimental impact on the quality of work being produced.”

It is equally obvious that standing diminishes weight bearing that compresses the base of the spine as much of the body’s weight gets shifted to our legs. So, as most chiropactors back pain patients experienced a worsening of their symptoms while sitting, it makes good sense to stand.
A desk that is adjustable – i.e. can be used both as a sitting and standing desk is likely the best way to go.

Finally, when theses desks were first available I recall walking down the corridor with a colleague who had written a dissertation on the ideal sitting position. All – and I mean each and every secretary – were standing at their desks. He asked me what I thought about this – to which I replied, that the proof was in the pudding. If all of the staff were voluntarily using them, how could this be anything other than a good idea.

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