As more and more research comes out about the silent dangers of sitting, employers and employees are joining the growing trend of utilizing standing desks. As a chiropractor in Denver who treats back pain related to sitting, I get asked on a daily basis if the standing desk is the solution to help avoid their back troubles. There is much more to this simple question as the answer is a bit more complicated, so let’s look at some facts related to sitting.
The American Journal of Epidemiology published a prospective study including over 53,000 men and almost 70,000 women that showed an increase in mortality with the length of time sitting, regardless of independent physical activity (1). This fact is mind blowing. You can’t Crossfit your way out of the dangers of the desk jockey. Sit less and live longer should be the title of this study.
How about back pain? The above study is mainly about heart health, but what about back health? Surprisingly, a study published is the journal Spine showed that intradiscal pressure may be less in an individual that is sitting upright compared to an upright standing posture (2). The study advises movement to help support the flow of fluid in and out of the disc. This study also looked at a variety of postures and its effects on disc pressures, which all showed increases with flexed postures, regardless of sitting or standing. There is no ideal sitting or standing posture, so one must continually change their postures to help migrate the strains of sitting or standing. The take away with this study is to keep moving!
You’re the Captain
The answer to the initial question is a yes, but also a no. Standing desks can help offset the strains of sitting, but also come with its own problems. Standing engages the back muscles more than sitting and can add pressure to the spine, which is only negated by movement. Sitting can create large forces on the spine as well, which is only negated by movement. A variety of work stations is ideal in the workplace. So, reducing the chances of decreasing your lifespan from heart disease, or decreasing your chances of having back pain all must incorporate movement. Avoiding sedentary postures, whether they are sitting or standing is the key.
Autohor: Dr. Trent Artichoker
Denver Chiropractic, LLC
3890 Federal Blvd Unit 1
Denver, CO 80211