This week has continued to be super eventful – Chris finally installed my standing desk set up! I can now work without compromising either my neck or my shoulders. This is officially my first blog post written at my brand new work station. Thanks, Chris!!
A lot of people are switching to a standing desk set-up right now, which is super amazing! A standing desk gives you lots more movement options than a regular set-up, and really makes a huge difference in helping you sit less hours in a day. However, like any transition, how you do it matters a lot! Suddenly going from sitting all day to standing all day is probably not going to help you achieve your health goals, especially if one of them is to actually be more healthy. So I thought it would be helpful to provide some advice on how to make the change.
Rule #1 – Take it slow!!!
I almost wrote that in all caps. It’s important. You will think ‘It’s just standing, how hard can it be?’ and you will be excited about your snazzy new set up, and you will want to stand up all day. And then your feet will be sore and your back will hurt and you will be sad. So for real, ease into the transition – start with a half hour, take a break by sitting, maybe try another half hour, take another break. Ideally add not more than 10% of extra standing time per day – less if your body is reacting by getting sore or stiff. Think of this like going to the gym, and don’t add too much load too fast, because to your body, it is exactly the same. Take lots of breaks!
Rule #2 – Stand with care
First, learn how to stand in alignment. Outsides of your feet straight, weight in your heels, and feet pelvis-width apart. If you don’t know what this means, you can check our this link, or you can come and see me for an intro session! Or do both!
Once you know how to stand, you must become vigilant! Your movement habits will sneak up on you! Be aware of this! You may find yourself standing with your feet turned out, with your pelvis tucked and your weight over your toes, crossing your legs or leaning on the desk. Each time you find yourself doing something odd, just move yourself back into a nice aligned stance.
Rule #3 – Choose the right shoes
If you stand at your desk in high heels all day then you’re just changing the way you’re damaging your joints. I do not only mean 6 inch platforms. I mean any raised heel at all. Raised heels force your body to do wonky things. Wonky is not good (here’s some more in-depth info).
This comes with a giant caveat – if you’re used to wearing any sort of heel, which unless you’re already a restorative exercise teacher may well be the case – you should make the change gradually so that your body has a chance to adjust. But once you’ve made the change, the more minimal the shoe, the better, and bare feet are best of all.
Rule #4 – Set it up right
Make sure your monitor is at eye level, and your elbows are roughly at 90 degrees. Basic ergonomics stuff. Ergonomics has its issues (finding the ‘best’ way to stay still is still staying still) – but there’s no need to set yourself up so that you’re definitely causing damage. Easier with a desk top than a laptop, normally, so if you have a laptop, you should pick up a spare keyboard. Here I am, correctly set up.
Rule #5 – Move A Lot
This might be my favourite rule. It’s usually easier to move once you’re already standing – you can just sort of wander off. It’s really easy to do all kinds of simple stretches, such as the hip stretch from my last post.
And, it’s really easy to get a pet ball or a tennis ball and stretch your feet when you’re already standing. Just make sure the ball is somewhat squishy, and without putting your full body weight on the ball, place it under your foot and allow your foot to drape itself over the ball. Hang out there for 20 seconds – 2 minutes, then move the ball to another spot. It’s good to make a pattern so that you ensure that you get all your bits – otherwise you will tend to go for the same spots every time.
Rule #6 – Bonus Rule – Avoid Desk Treadmills At All Costs!
Walking on a treadmill is totally different, mechanically, than walking on the ground. It reinforces our already very poor walking patterns. I was really sad when I first learned this, as I thought it would be awesome to get to move all day as I worked. Kind of modern hunter-gatherer style. Plus think of all the calories you could burn! But if you learn how to walk naturally, you’ll burn tonnes of calories anyway (walking right is much more work than our current modern facsimile of walking, which is 90% a falling motion if you measure the physics of it) and save your pelvic floor and joints and bone density into the bargain.