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Sit to Stand desk: are they all they're cracked up to be?

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

Evolution of the office

The trends over time for workstation ergonomics have drastically changed. Most of the changes occurred because of design aesthetics and what is visually appealing. In the 50s you would see hard surfaced wooden swivel chairs, while in the 60s & 70s you started to see today’s cushioned wheeled armed-chairs. In the 80s you would see the kneeling stool chairs, then in 90s you would see people on physio balls sitting at their desk. At the turn of the millenium, as more people started having to share their desk space, everyone had to use the same chair because no desk was their own, they ‘hot seated’. Today you see treadmills and standing desks…

So does the standing desk actually ‘fix’ all the issues that the traditional seated desk ‘caused’?

Well, the answer is no. Standing is not physiologically better than sitting if both positions are stationary. If you are just going to stand in one spot it's going to cause all the same issues as sitting, but just place the stresses on different areas of the body.

Areas of pressure while sitting:

  • Butt

  • Low back

Areas of pressure while standing:

  • Feet

  • Knees

  • Hips

  • Low back

However, standing does have some advantages. For one, standing distributes pressure through more areas of the body. Standing also gives us the ability to change our position more frequently throughout the day; walking or moving around more because of standing prevents us from consistently overloading our joints.

So what is the best OPTION?

The old adage everything in MODERATION comes up again! We suggest that you use both options throughout the day. Do some sitting and some standing. Now I hear the groaning….because you who have the sit to stand desk know that it can be a pain in the butt (excuse the pun) to switch between the two.

So here are some tricks to make the switch easy:

  1. Buy a sit to stand desk with a pneumatic or electric button to quickly switch between sit and stand.

  2. Make sure the desk or the moving work surface is large enough, because having to move around a ton of paperwork to change positions is too cumbersome.

  3. Make sure there is room for the chair to be out of the way when standing.

  4. Use a foot stool for both sitting and standing so that you can rest a foot or two on the rest in either position.

  5. Make sure that the station goes high enough for a taller person and low enough for a shorter person….not all stations can accommodate beyond the ‘average’ size.

There is nothing more annoying as an employer spending big money on an improvement to see it go to waste and not be used. And there is nothing more annoying as an employee to see special treatment for some co-workers and not for others. When the criteria laid out above are met, I would recommend a sit-to-stand desk to help you treat your body well during your workday!

Check out the links below for a few great and responsible sit to stand solutions:

Thanks for reading!

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