As you might know, there is much social buzz about the health concerns related to sedentary work, especially for those who sit for the majority of their workday. There is also a common misconception that anyone who sits to do their work, should stand up for their right to kick the chair to the curb and exclusively use a standing work station. This move, may in fact create new risk factors that will have you looking for that chair again.
The ergonomic research motivating us to stand supports the idea that when compared to sitting, the position of standing creates less compression forces on our low back, in addition to the more obvious benefits of increased circulation to your extremities and the increased caloric expenditure. What isn’t talked about as much is the idea that moving from static sitting, to static standing is not much of an upgrade. Just ask anyone who stands for the majority of their workday. These folks often experience low back pain, heel or forefoot pain, muscle fatigue and other discomforts.
We are designed to be moving creatures, doing work that uses a variety of positions and muscle groups. Therefore, it holds true that we should be designing our workstations to move with us. Instead of throwing out your existing office furniture, look around and get creative.
Here are some practical workstation options to choose from, which allow a single user to change positions while they work:
(Whichever option you choose, remember to use a desktop stopwatch or widget to limit your sitting and standing to an hour, and stretch between positions.)
1. Create a standing station that also allows you to sit. This may require you to install a counter height desk or table (slightly lower than your elbows when standing). You will need a monitor riser or arm. If you use a laptop, you will need a laptop stand and an external keyboard. Have an ergonomic task stool with foot rest ring handy for the standing station if you need to perch a cheek, or take a quick break from standing.
2. Create a height adjustable work station by purchasing a unit that attaches to a standard desk to allow you to adjust the unit up or down, from sitting in an ergonomic task chair to standing, with products such as an Ergotron, Varidesk, or other. These move the keyboard and monitor up and down with some adjustment.
3. Purchase a height adjustable desk surface that moves up and down as you do. An adjustable keyboard tray and monitor arm will be required for ergonomic positioning as you move from sitting to standing. You will require an ergonomic task chair for the sitting position.
It is important to know the ergonomic guidelines for setting up sitting and standing workstations. See our customized Office Stretching Poster and Ergonomic Guidelines Poster at http://enablingaccess.ca/shop-enabling-access-inc-ergonomic-and-stretching-posters.html
Marnie Courage, OT Reg. (MB)
Enabling Access Inc.