With most city-based offices moving towards agile work stations, employees are required to change desks daily and adjust their chair/desks accordingly. Unfortunately, when I ask my patients who have a sit to stand desk “Do you use it?” they often respond “No, I don’t know how to use it” or “I just forget”.
The average work week in NSW is 40.7 hours and most people spend approximately 4.4 hours commuting to and from work each week. For desk-based jobs that’s just over 45 hours spent mostly sitting. Add in the time spent sitting eating meals, watching TV, driving on weekends, sitting while socialising and other sedentary activities, you can easily see that it is just too much. You can understand where the phrase ‘sitting is the new smoking’ has come from.
While sitting for too long has its problems, so does standing. As a general guide, try to stand for approximately 3 hours in your work day. Standing can be quite tiring if you aren’t used to it, start with 15 minutes 3 times each day and gradually increase from there. However, remember that having poor posture while standing can be just as bad as poor posture while sitting.
A basic guide for correct standing posture and desk set-up:
- Desk height – when standing, bend your elbows to 90⁰ by your side, your desk should sit slightly below elbow height.
- Screen height – the top 1/3 of your monitor should be at eye level.
- Keyboard and mouse position – when standing with your elbows bent at 90⁰ by your side, you should be able to reach your keys and your mouse without moving your elbows away from your side.
- Standing posture – standing with even weight on both feet, knees soft (not locked into extension), lower back in a neutral position (not too curved or too arched), shoulders down and back and finally head upright and retracted backwards (i.e. not poking forward). A helpful cue is imagining you have a piece of string attached the top of your head that is pulling you up towards the ceiling.
What not to do:
- Wear heels! – ladies, you need to take off your heels if possible. Ideally you would have a pair of flats or supportive shoes that you can wear while standing/not in meetings. Another alternative (if appropriate) is to have bare feet.
- Lean on the desk – this defeats the purpose of standing, try to remind yourself to maintain good posture.
- ‘Hitch’ onto one hip – try to keep an even weight between both feet.
- Stand for too long on your first attempt – a gradual increase in time is best, this will hopefully allow you to build up a tolerance without creating many new pains or be demotivated.
The above are some very basic tips. If you would like an Individual Workplace Assessment or would like to arrange a Group Assessment for your office, please contact us here at Bend + Mend in Sydney’s CBD! We can come to your office and assess your staff. Prevention is key and good ergonomics is something everyone can and should work towards.