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So the latest advice from various media streams is to re-design the office environment and get employees to stand rather sit all day.  However, this can be equally as uncomfortable and can induce other musculoskeletal aches and pains.

Ann Hall, Sales and Marketing Manager – North America at Efficiency Software SitStandCOACH has written some good advice for all office workers.

The key to making the most out of your standing desk is not simply standing all day.

The ideal goal is to change from sitting to standing throughout the day to avoid static postures and static muscle fatigue (avoid static postures & static muscle fatigue); to have more energy and maximize your comfort. A good rule of thumb is to not stay in any one position for more than thirty minutes at a time.

WHY SHOULD YOU KEEP IT MOVING?

Movement is critical for us to keep our bodies healthy and prevent illness. Mixing periods of sitting with periods of standing – in addition to making time to move – is key to our healthy existence in today’s sedentary-oriented world.

When we change between sit and stand during the day we adjust the amount of load on the body and give specific body parts a chance to rest. Standing helps switch on the enzymes that are responsible for good health, increases blood flow to relieve fatigued muscles and permits the body to achieve a loading balance. Just the act of going from sit to stand is great for your health. It forces your body to work against gravity and keeps those skeletal muscles strong. Standing also helps in the regulation of blood pressure.

Sitting gives your leg muscles time to rest and recover from supporting the load of the body. It can help prevent sore feet, swelling of the legs (no one wants cankles!), fatigue, varicose veins and low back pain. These are all ailments that can occur simply by standing too long without a break.

WHEN SHOULD YOU SIT? WHEN SHOULD YOU STAND?

If you prefer to stand most of the day, try to sit at least 10 minutes of every hour. If you get uncomfortable at any time, change position. Standing for long periods can be tiring for leg muscles. Some people really need to work into a lifestyle of standing. A start may be standing for 5 minutes every hour. Ideally you would work into changing positions every 30 minutes.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with sitting for most of the hour and taking a 10 to 15 minute standing break (even better take two 5-10 minute standing breaks every hour). Simply doing this is what most experts are recommending in order to escape “sitting disease.”

Remember, it is a lifestyle change and a change from what most of us have been used to our entire working life. Whatever works best for you and the kind of work you are doing is what is most likely to keep you on course with this new working lifestyle.

5 QUICK TIPS FOR BEING MORE COMFORTABLE AT YOUR STANDING DESK.

  1. Move more to avoid static muscle fatigue. Try setting reminders for yourself to move (sit or stand). This will help you remember to change positions until you start to move more on your own.
  2. “To easily double your comfortable standing time,” Mark Benden, Director of the Texas A&M Ergonomics Center, suggests “using a footrail/footrest while standing. It is essentially a fatigue break for half of the large trunk muscles holding you upright.”
  3. Wear comfortable footwear. If you intend to stand most of your day wear a shoe with good support and please forgo the heels for long standing sessions. I think most of the avid standers keep an extra pair of shoes at their desk for a quick change when needed.
  4. If you are standing on a hard floor such as concrete invest in an anti-fatigue mat. This can reduce the impact on your legs and feet. Do not stack multiple mats on top of each other. Too much cushion could actually cause fatigue and also be a tripping hazard.
  5. Make sure that the height of your keyboard and monitor is in position to help keep you in a nice neutral posture. Avoiding risk factors at work such as awkward posture will help keep you comfortable and decrease your risk for injury.
 
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