Are Stand Up Desks Harming Our Health?

What you need to know about your office space, and the pain caused by standing or sitting too long.

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Has corporate America gotten the best of us? Americans are known for hitting the pavement well beyond 9 to 5 to get their work done. In an effort to maximize profits, workers have been given more responsibilities to accomplish in less time, and many are working longer hours. To adjust to new demands and with relatively new employee health awareness, many offices have removed an old standard, replacing them with a stand up desk. The question I pose, is this hurting or helping?

Most workstations are designed for functionality versus comfort. When the stand up desk was introduced to the marketplace, it was different. The new idea shed light on how much people, who work at a desk, actually sit. The marketing behind the standing desk is sitting too much is not good for you. That being said, is standing all day actually good for your overall health?

The Mayo Clinic suggests,too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.” Yet they also suggest that leg pain could be a result from either too much standing or sitting, “Leg pain can have many causes, aching after prolonged standing or sitting suggests a possible buildup of fluid in the leg veins (venous congestion). Venous congestion occurs when the valves in your leg veins don’t work properly to keep blood moving efficiently from your legs to your heart. Instead, blood pools in your legs and feet, causing pain and swelling. The pain is typically described as a burning or cramping sensation, mainly in the calf.”

Physicians across the country are getting more complaints about low back and glute pain associated with standing at a desk all day. Sitting too long can tighten the hips, so how can we prevent injury and improve our health at the office? Dr. Nick Romansky, Podiatrist at Healthmark Foot and Ankle in Media, PA, may have explained it best, “I encourage my patients to practice the 20, 20, 20 rule. Every 20 minutes you get up, every 20 minutes you walk 20 feet to 20 yards, and every 20 minutes you look 20 feet ahead.

It appears that too much standing or sitting are both not conducive to our health. Finding the right balance is the way to go. Dr. Romansky recommends, “A standing desk should be an adjunct, not a substitute.”

There are many types of standing desks on the market, everything from treadmills to combination sit/stand ones. The idea to spin the ergonomics in the workplace to standing seemed like a good idea in the beginning.

With recent technologies designed to help keep us moving and functioning at our best (think FitBit, OURA Ring, AppleWatch, vívofit), there is a major focus on personal health. More importantly, corporations are concerned about their employees’ well-being, including offering on-site wellness centers and child care, such as American Express does.

I think we can all agree we need to remain active. We can’t continue the hamster wheel cycle of monotony of only sitting or standing. If you have a stand up desk, perhaps the best solution is a hybrid seat is in order to keep your posture and circulation intact.

Your health is the most important. For me I am adopting the 20,20,20 rule.

Originally published at

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