Desks and Your Back Health

It’s no surprise that far too many of us are spending an inordinate amount of time sitting. We sit as we drive to work, sit at a desk, sit in front of our television, and we sit in front of our computers at home. If you add it all up it really is alarming just how many hours we spend sitting every day. There is a serious problem nowadays with our health because of sitting too much.

The more a person sits all day their risk of dying from all causes, especially cardiovascular diseases dramatically increases. Even if you work out, go for walks, or a swim on a daily basis, if you spend large swathes of the day sitting then you are elevating your risk of death from many diseases. Also keep in mind that sitting increases blood pressure in most people.

Let’s look at this another way – sitting for the bulk of your waking hours is not healthy for your back. There is an increased awareness that ergonomic chairs can help, which yes, can be good; however the bottom line it does not negate the fact that countless hours every day are spent sitting.

If you sit at a desk all day then there are some things you can do to help alleviate the ill-effects.

Move When You Can

Sitting on a stability ball really helps so long as you can stay focused. If you are reading then twist, move your legs up and down, swing your arms in circles or in any movement, twist your head back and forth, or move in any way imaginable that allows you to still focus on the task at hand.

Sit Upright

We know that sitting upright promotes great posture but as you sit upright lean forward and slowly move back; heck you can even move side-to-side somewhat. Hold in the stomach and be sure to be doing some deep breathing.


Sitting is a flex posture so stretching is essential every half hour or so to help you feel better. Stretch out your arms, legs and be sure to stand up every so often and stretch. This is vital for infusing oxygen into the blood stream that helps us get through the day.

Standing Desks

Solutions to sitting all day do not include going to the gym or going out for a walk. There is evidence to suggest that the negative effects can’t be countered by a short period of time of strenuous exercise. The answer is to incorporate standing, pacing and other activities into your day.

Now here is a solution that many thought that only eccentrics used – a standing desk. These are gaining in popularity and for good reasons. Some studies have found that the overall mood of a person using a standing desk is better than those who sit. There is even evidence that some people actually lose weight when they use a standing desk.

Naturally this is not a desk for everyone. Those who are not certain if they can stand all day can find relief by having a bar stool-type chair to sit upon when they need to rest. Good standing desks have an elevated foot piece so one foot can be supported off the ground at a time.

Using a gel mat to stand on is really important because too much of a good thing can be a bad thing too and spending several hours on your feet can have bad effects – especially if standing on a hard surface. Keeping your posture straight is just as important standing as it is sitting and moving around a little and stretching is also a must.

Before investing in a standing desk try it out at home first by creating a standing desk out of various items in the home such as strong boxes. Standing desks are not for everyone. When creating a standing desk or purchasing one, keep in mind there are some measurements that you should adhere to. The monitor needs to be at eye level. Viewing distance should be 10 to 30 inches, wrists need to be straight and the elbow angle needs to be at 90 degrees and close to the body.

Standing allows for more movement possibilities such as squats and toe touching.

No matter what desk is for you the most important thing of all is to be sure you are moving as frequently as you can all day. Instead of sending an email to your colleague in the cubicle down the aisle – go deliver the message in person; take stairs not elevators; park a good distance from the front door and walk; these are some suggestions to help you to move as much as you can in the day.

If you want to research more about sitting and standing desks Smithsonian has a great article about this topic. Or you can give us call and one of our qualified health professionals can speak with you to help you determine if a standing desk is a good choice for you.

Established in 2007 by Dr. Behfar Sanjari, Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has been committed to providing quality health care services to the Greater Toronto Area for over half a decade. Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has qualified professionals who can help evaluate if a standing desk is right for you. We have clinics located in Richmond Hill and Newmarket, visit Chiro-Med online or call 905-918-0419 or 905-235-0419 for more information.

September 15, 2015

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