Are Standing Desks Really Better for You? And How to Achieve Great Posture

Are You Really Better Off With a Standing Desk?
Photo: Pond5

Have you heard? Standing may not be any better than sitting still all day. “Standing, like sitting, is a static position,” says biomechanist and author of Move Your DNA Katy Bowman, MS. “Swapping one static position for another isn’t as big of a step towards healthy as it might seem. You’re still not moving much.”

But before you try to get a refund on your standing desk, hold tight. Swapping your seated set-up for a standing one comes with another benefit: better focus and productivity, according to recent research.

Plus, there are some benefits to standing — if you do it right. That’s where your posture becomes important. “Standing changes the geometry of your blood vessels and joints, and uses more muscle than sitting, so it is a beneficial step,” Bowman says. Maintaining good posture allows the body to work more efficiently, which can prevent muscular fatigue and strain, and decrease abnormal wear and tear on joints and ligaments that could lead to osteoarthritis.

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On the other hand, poor posture while standing can introduce or exacerbate a whole other set of potentially pain-causing issues. “Our bodies tend to go to the pattern of less stress,” says Emily Splichal, DPM, a Manhattan-based podiatrist and movement specialist who is the author of Barefoot Strong. In other words, you’ll assume the position that is easiest and sometimes that results in poor posture. Think about how you stand: Do you collapse in your core? Or do you jet your hip out? If so, this can lead to injury in the tissues of your hip, Bowman points out.

Are You Really Better Off With a Standing Desk?
Photo: Pond5

How to Achieve Awesome Posture

Luckily there are easy ways to make sure that your standing isn’t just sitting 2.0. First, you want to start with the feet. “They are the foundation to our posture,” says Dr. Splichal, which means ladies will want want to ditch the heels while standing desk-side. A two- to three-inch heel will tighten the fascia — the connective tissue web that envelops the bones, muscles and tendons — and will put stress on your joints, she says.

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Bowman suggests positioning yourself so that you keep your weight back in your heels and your ankles are pelvis-width away from each other — no wider, no narrower. (Do a quick check: Place your hands on your hip bones so your palms are facing enough other and your fingertips are pointing down. Move your feet so that the outside edge is lined up with your hands.) Your bottom ribs should be stacked over the front of your pelvis; however make sure you don’t lift your chest or thrust your ribs out. As for your head, you’ll want to think, “Make a double chin.” Slide your head back and away from the computer screen without lifting the chin, Bowman says.

Even if you’ve got killer posture, make sure that you’re still taking a break to walk around for at least two minutes every hour (trips to the restroom throughout the day have never been so important). More than that, you want to make sure that you are aiding blood flow through your legs while standing. To do this, Dr. Splichal suggests rocking back and forth through your feet to get the blood moving through the fascia in your legs every five minutes or so. The more you do it, the better.

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