The advantages of height-adjustable desks are convincing more and more companies. And that has not just back and neck pain preventing reasons. In this article we would like to explain how to work with a standing desk, what other advantages it offers and how you can improve your back health even without using such a desk.
Whether you work at home or in the office, everyone who works at their desk a lot is familiar with the annoying back and neck pain after spending a long day in front of their monitor.
In order to prevent this pain and any worse consequences, an electric height-adjustable desk with all its advantages would be a reasonable investment, along with enough exercise. This kind of desk is the perfect equipment to keep your back and muscles fit.
Consequences of sitting for long periods of times
Office work usually means sitting a lot. At first glance, this does not seem to be a problem. However, sitting for long periods of time is extremely strenuous for the body, especially the back muscles and intervertebral discs.
- If you sit apparently comfortably, your abdominal muscles slacken. This can lead to a hunched back.
- Sitting with a hunched back puts particular strain on the intervertebral discs, which are also less able to be supplied with important nutrients.
- Sitting for long periods clamps the internal organs – especially the digestive organs.
- Blood circulation in the extremities can be reduced and muscle stiffness or tension can result.
- Regular prolonged sitting causes muscles to atrophy.
- Prolonged sitting worsens the cardiovascular system.
Sitting for too long is responsible for many musculoskeletal disorders and causes billions of dollars in economic damage every year. It therefore makes sense to move frequently during your desk work and to avoid dangerous prolonged sitting.
Advantages of using a height-adjustable desk
This is where the height-adjustable desk comes into play: With this desk, posture monotonies and the lack of movement in everyday office life can be easily reduced in the long run. And that’ s how it works:
Every height-adjustable desk can be transformed into a standing desk simply by pressing a button. Ideally, a change from sitting to standing work takes place at fixed intervals. Many modern desks can even be programmed to do so.
However, it takes a while to get used to this, because many people find working in a standing position strange at first.
After several phases, however, you will already be used to it. Keep the following things in mind during the stand-up phase:
- Your standing phases should last 20 minutes
- Change your posture 2 – 3 times per hour
- It is better to stand for a short time than for a whole hour
- Do not stand in the same position and avoid “static standing”
Large companies are realising how important individual workstations are for the health of their employees.
The expense of an ergonomic workplace is usually not as high as expected when you take into account and offset the absence from work and the corresponding costs.
Advantages of height-adjustable desks
Using an electrically height-adjustable desk – especially when alternating between sitting and standing – has beneficial effects:
- Less fatigue at work
- Higher concentration and performance
- When standing, you react more quickly and are automatically more alert
- The switch strengthens the back and leg muscles
- The spine is relieved
- The circulation gets going
Adding extra movement to the working day
We usually associate exercise with “doing sports”, which may put many people off at first. But people who work in an office don’t have to perform athletic feat in order to work healthier.
First, it helps to reduce the amount of time spent sitting at work (as well as at home).
Experts suggest that 60% of working time should be spent actively sitting, 30% standing and 10% walking around actively and with purpose.
If you work an average of 8 hours a day, this means sitting for about 4 hours 45 minutes daily, standing for slightly less than 2.5 hours and walking around actively and purposefully for about 45 minutes.
The “60/30/10 rule” can be realised in many different ways: Either with an electrically height-adjustable desk, which I will discuss later, or by organising your working day more actively and with more awareness.
45 minutes of purposeful walking can be done by anyone if you consider the following tips and tricks:
- Place printers and copiers at a central location so that people have to actively move to the printer when they need to pick up documents.
- Avoid internal staff meetings via direct dial or email and instant messenger, instead go to the employee’s office.
- Going to the coffee machine also represents purposeful movement. Those who refuse coffee can obviously get a glass of water.
- You can hold smaller meetings with your colleagues while walking.
Working while standing can also be done without a sit-stand desk. Important is to make sure when you are working while standing that you are not just standing all the time, but rather stand actively!:
- Stand up when talking on the phone – ideally every time you make a call.
- Stand-up meetings have also proven successful – you are more concentrated and have more attention.
- You can also talk about important matters with the relevant colleague in the kitchenette standing.
- Letters and other postal items can also be sorted and opened while standing.
- Always try to write down your concepts, plans and ideas while standing.
Basic rules for healthy office work
Even though you may already have a standing desk – keep the following in mind:
The desk must be large enough for the screen, keyboard, telephone, and other equipment. The ideal size is a table with a minimum size of 160 x 80 centimetres. This size provides enough space for documents and folders that may be needed during work.
In addition to size, stability and durability are other important points that should definitely be considered. High-quality standing desks with a decent look also fit in the office inconspicuously. However, the design should not distract from the actual work, which is why mirrored glass desks are absolutely unsuitable for long periods of work.
Screen, desk, and office chair must be coordinated with one another. The computer screen should ideally be about an arm’s length away.
The first line on the screen should be at maximum eye level. By tilting the screen slightly forward, the neck muscles are relieved.
If the font is too small, do not move the screen closer, but instead simply zoom in on the font size. Every modern operating system will allow this setting.
A laptop is completely unsuitable for long-term work (more than 4 hours a day) at a desk.
The reason is that by keeping the device low, we bend over. In the worst case, we adopt a posture with a hunched back. This can be remedied by using a notebook stand, which ensures that we adopt a healthier posture.
Another option is to connect an external screen and keyboard to the laptop.
Small exercises to loosen up are also useful. These help to relieve tension and help to clear the mind for new thoughts and ideas.