ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

Jo Cordell-Cooper
Jo Cordell-Cooper I'm a fun loving, mother of 3, fitness professional and business owner. I'm particularly passionate about water based fitness, but I also enjoy working with women to improve their health and fitness on land. I work with women at various ages and stages of their life. I specialise in pregnancy fitness, post natal care, and I have many PT clients who are time poor or have long standing health and/or injuries that are not catered for in a main stream gym setting. I love working outdoors and so do my clients. I'm a keen gardener (although the possums get more than I do) and I love bush walking and cooking.

Jo Cordell-Cooper has written 14 article(s) for us.

Visit http://www.activesolutionsandhealthnetwork.com.au

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When That Standing Desk Isn’t The Solution

February 13, 2017 | Jo Cordell-Cooper

I’ve heard such great things about standing desks and how they aid productivity and physical health (in particular posture).  We know we are not meant to sit all day so standing must be a much better option.  So I lashed out and bought a standing desk and placed it in a new work space I’d developed in a corner of our house.  What I discovered next really surprised me.

Within a day or 2 I developed a really stiff neck.  After researching ergonomic setup I found I actually ticked all the boxes on ergonomic set up – elbows at 90 degrees, forearms rested on the desk, middle of the screen at eye level, shoulders relaxed – so I was quite perplexed as to what the problem was.  

After 6 weeks of neck issues – massages to improve things, stretches and use of the spiky ball to replenish blood flow to my tense areas, and walking with a good strong arm swing things improved, but the problem persisted.  What was the cause?

Next I realised I had stopped touch typing and started looking at the keyboard.  The head weighs around 5 kilos so even a slight tipping forward can create neck and shoulder strain.  I don’t know why I stopped touch typing but then I also noticed that I was standing with 1 hip hitched instead of weight being distributed over my 2 feet evenly – I had an asymmetrical habit!

So when all things were considered the problem was not the stand up desk but the habits I changed unconsciously.  

Here are my 5 top tips should you be considering a stand up desk:

  1. Start gradually – perhaps start by standing for an hour at a time and build it up over a few weeks
  2. Ensure you have a sound ergonomic setup.  Stand up desks still need to be at the right height, as does the screen.  When you sit it still needs to be ergonomically set up.
  3. Do you stand symmetrically and how are your ankles, knees and hips – are they up to long periods of standing?
  4. Are your shoes suitable for standing – are they comfortable?  Some people purchase a soft mat to stand on.
  5. How is your posture – not all postures are comfortable standing for long periods of time, an example is someone with a ‘sway back’ posture (lower back) or rounded shoulders.

Standing is quite a stationary activity and while sitting is found to reduce metabolism and create a whole bunch of muscle imbalances, standing still isn’t ideal either.  What we can be certain of is a day with plenty of incidental exercise (using stairs, walking during breaks, getting up and down regularly) and a brisk walk or exercise session (even a brief one) during the day is better than both sitting and standing.

Have you tried using a standing desk? I would love to hear your feedback on the experience.