Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Standing Desk

I have written about the dangers of sitting, but hadn't done anything about it for myself. That all changed today. Now that I'm officially an employee at my job, and not a temp, I asked if I could set up my desk to stand, instead of sit. I got a weird look, but also the go-ahead. After moving a ton of computer cables, digging up some boxes for my keyboard and mouse, I've been standing the last few hours. I can feel that my muscles are not used to it. I am doing a lot of weight shifting to stay comfortable.

I finally took the plunge because I am working my glutes and hip flexors twice daily for physical therapy. Sitting seemed to be negating that effort. I did a bit of searching to find if my thinking had any basis in reality. Men's Health magazine explained it very simply. Every muscle in your body is covered with fascia that tends to set into the position the muscle holds most frequently. If you're like most people, you sit for at least 8 hours a day for your job, 1-2 hours or more for your commute, 1 hour for dining and then 1-3 hours for TV viewing or on the computer at home. That's a minimum of 12 hours of a 24 hour day when your legs are bent in a sitting position.

When you sit, your hip flexors and hamstrings are shorter than when you stand. If you sit for much of the day, the fascia gets used to/adapts to being shorter. This makes it difficult for it to lengthen and hold your posture upright. Also, they become the dominant muscles in the thigh, rather than the glutes and quads, which are perpetually stretched because of the bend when sitting. This all leads to poor body mechanics and eventually to injuries.

I'm sure that making the switch to a standing desk will lead to many, many questions from co-workers and others. My desk does have many people walking past on a daily basis, so I'm ready to answer all those questions. I know that what I'm doing is the healthiest thing for me, but I also know that it's out of the ordinary. I will try to remain un-defensive and un-preachy when answering those questions. I may also need to get myself some flat, comfortable black shoes for work. Standing in heels, even if only an 1 1/2 inches, is going to be uncomfortable.

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