About 65 million Americans suffer from back pain each year according to Dr. Michael Roizen, Chairman of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. With so many people experiencing this major affliction it's surprising more hasn't been done to try to mitigate its effects on everyday life. Most people have concluded that sitting all day isn't good for your body and usually contributes to increased back pain -- or more often, that it's the main cause. The reason is because sitting is static and puts pressure on your shoulders, arms, and legs in addition to the primary vertical support structure of your body, the spine and its supporting ligaments and muscles.
So if you have a desk job and you have work to do, what are your options? The best one is to invest in a standing desk. Make sure you get a desk that allows you to adjust the height settings so you can both sit and stand. This will give you the flexibility to be able to increase your time standing while still being able to sit if you get tired or need a break. It will also let you utilize positions besides just sitting and standing, such as leaning against or perching yourself on a tall stool, or intermittently using a kneeling chair. Variety and frequent body-position change really are the main keys to pain-free desk work.
If order for you to feel the best you can and get the most relief, you'll want to make sure your desk is set properly to provide you with proper posture when you are standing. You'll want to keep your elbows close to your body and generally keep your monitor at a height that allows you to look straight ahead without bending your neck. You'll also want to make sure you aren't locking your legs. You should avoid high heels, wearing comfortable shoes instead. Consider just wearing your socks with an anti-fatigue mat underfoot as well! An anti-fatigue mat will provide extra support and help relieve pressure, whether you have shoes on or not.
Allowing yourself the opportunity to both stand when you're able and sit when you get tired allows you to have the freedom to stretch your muscles and gives you more range of motion, relieving your sore back from the extra pressure of sitting all day.
Learn to listen to your body -- it will tell you when it's time for a change. If your work is so engrossing that you have trouble paying attention to that, consider setting a simple egg timer to go off every 30-60 minutes or so (experiment to find out what interval works best for you and the work you do at your desk). When it dings, tune into how you feel physically, and change your position accordingly. This simple habit -- learning to listen to your body and changing position accordingly -- can make a truly life-changing difference in how you feel, and how productive you are. You'll feel less pain, have more energy, and reap the natural harvest that comes from just those two improvements.
GeekDesk gets letters and emails all the time from happy customers that have made a positive impact on their life by purchasing a standing desk and incorporating into their routine. Below is an unsolicited tweet from Matt Shaheen, a happy customer that has relieved his back pain by purchasing a GeekDesk online for his home office.
Thanks for sharing, Matt! We are delighted to have been able to help. :)