The use of standing desks has been gradually increasing in the workplace, in order to combat the negative effects of sitting down for long periods of time.
While many see this as the perfect way to address the issue of spending too much of our lives sat down, are standing desk as beneficial as they are made out to be, or can they actually be the cause of further problems?
The answer is that much of it depends on their proper use, which should be covered in the DSE training employers are required to provide to any employee using display screen equipment for longer than an hour each day.
However, there are some general points that apply to the use of standing desks, both positive and negative.
Pros of Using a Standing Desk
One of the main benefits of using a standing desk is that it helps with musculoskeletal issues such as lower back pain. This is because alternating between a sitting and standing position aids in relieving muscle tension, especially in the lower back – an area where many people experience discomfort. However, it is not just lower back pain that can be improved by the use of a standing desk.
It has been well-documented that sitting down for long periods of time can have a negative effect on posture which can, in turn, lead to pain in the neck, back, and shoulder areas. By cutting down on time spent sitting at a traditional workstation, discomfort in the above mentioned areas can be significantly improved.
Using a standing desk also offers the benefit of burning additional calories in comparison to sitting down. By simply using a standing desk, a user can increase the number of calories they burn in a day. Furthermore, regularly changing between a sitting and standing position can help to improve concentration and energy levels. This is one of the reasons why sit-stand desks are a popular choice, as they allow users to alternate between sitting and standing positions.
Cons of Using a Standing Desk
It’s clear to see that there are plenty of advantages to using a standing desk, however, there are some downsides too, which is why it is important to carry out regular assessment of workstations.
First of all, much like excessive amounts of time spent sitting down, standing up too much can have a negative impact. It can put a lot of pressure on the lower part of the body, especially on the legs and feet, which can eventually lead to muscle stiffness and fatigue.
Sit-stand desks are often advised for this reason, so that employees can divide their time between sitting and standing to maximise the benefits of both.
Using a standing desk also requires employees to wear specific footwear, limiting their options to shoes in which they will be able to comfortably stand for extended periods of time. This means that certain styles, such as high heels, will no longer be a feasible footwear choice. There is also the issue of correct posture to consider.
The use of standing desks is often cited as an excellent way to combat postural issues caused by sitting. However, this relies on standing desk users maintaining the correct form, otherwise, they will run into the same postural issues as they would when using a sitting desk.
Last but certainly not least, using a standing desk can often be detrimental for employees working on a laptop rather than a PC. This is because a standing workstation set-up is optimised for the use of monitors, with the keyboard and mouse resting on a lower level. For laptop users, a standing desk can actually do more harm than good, as it naturally encourages users to lean in when using the laptop keyboard, leading to bad posture.
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