Do you spend long hours sitting at a computer?
As I write this post, I am walking on my treadmill! Yup, I’m weird and I love it!
As a Physical Therapist, when I am treating patients, I get to move all day which keeps me feeling great! One of the challenges I have as I do more and more work on the computer is getting sore when I sit for too long. My back can get achy, my butt gets numb and I also get a little restless and lose productivity. Even with a great sitting set up and getting up to move often, I still felt I needed more options!
Why Stand to Work?
The body was really made and meant to move. In the old days, when we were hunters and gatherers, we were constantly moving. Movement keeps the blood flowing freely to the muscles and tissues, flushes out waste materials and keeps us limber. When we sit in one position all day, the muscles in the back of the legs (hamstrings) shorten, the front of the hip gets tight (hip flexors) and our back is compressed all day. The muscle shortening in the legs pulls and creates tension in the hips, pelvis and back which can contribute to, and cause some of your back pain. Plus, if you slouch, your neck gets tight and irritated, your chest muscles shorten and a you feel stiff and sore all over by the end of the day.
That is why I recommend getting up and moving often through out the day. I usually recommend that you set a timer on your computer or phone to remind you to get up, take a break and move! An even better option is spending some time working in a different work position to counter act the shortening that occurs with sitting.
For example, you can set up a standing workstation. When you stand in a good posture, there is less compression on the spine, you can keep moving your legs to keep the blood flowing and you minimize the muscle shortening that occurs in the seated position. This all translates into a happy back.
Even better is to add some walking or movement while you work. If you are reading something that isn’t on the computer, get up and walk around your office or house. If you are on the phone, you can stand up or walk around while you talk. You can even do some simple hamstring stretches for the back of your legs while you are standing. This helps reduce the hamstring tightening which is a common cause of back pain.
Standing up, moving and walking while you are working will not only help your pain, it will also make you more productive! When we move, we literally move into action. We will think more clearly, problem solve more easily and be more creative. Walking is often recommended for people as a way to reduce stress as well. It helps to calm the nervous system which in turn allows us to think more clearly – bonus!
How to create a kick ass standing workstation.
You may notice I used the word “create”. Sometimes it does take some creativity to perfect the standing or walking station. You can buy a desk that goes up and down on hydraulics or a fancy computer stand that goes up and down, both of which are on the pricy side and work great. However, you don’t need to spend all your hard earned money to have a great standing workstation. If you let your creative juices flow, you can make something that works great for next to nothing!
My standing workstation is made up of an old Ikea table with the legs cut down and a small computer stand on top of that. Cheap, simple, brilliant.
My walking station is made up of a treadmill computer holder that I bought on line and a piece of a metal shoe rack for my keyboard and mouse.
When you are setting up the workstations, remember to have the keyboard and computer screen at the optimal height to minimize the stress on your body.
I have to admit, I had help coming up with these ideas, so ask around and see who is creative and inventive. Remember, it doesn’t have to be fancy to work! Our goal is to reduce the stress on your back and neck so you can live without pain!
Now….I would love to hear from you! In the comments below, share with me:
- Do you ever work standing up or work while walking? How has this helped your back pain?
- Do you have any creative ideas on materials and ways to set up a standing or walking workstation? Share your ideas! It may help someone else in their creation!
I hope you walk your way to success! From my heart to yours, my hope for you is to Live a Life You Love!
“The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do.”
—Albert E.N. Gray