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Are standing desks worth it?

March 03, 2019

The workplace ergonomics industry has gathered a lot of traction over the past few years, possibly as a result of our increased understanding of the risks of sedentary lifestyles. The popularity of standing desks has increased significantly during this time, which makes perfect sense considering prolonged sitting at work is one of the main reasons for our sedentary lifestyles. However, questions have been asked lately about the efficacy of standing desks. Questions such as, Are standing desks any good for you? Do standing desks actually work?  What evidence is there to support the use standing desks? have been written about in recent times. 

The purpose of this article is to discuss the efficacy of standing desks from the perspective of a Physiotherapist. We would like to thank Jordan Lees, Principal Physiotherapist from The Ergonomic Physio, for writing this article.

From a Physiotherapist's perspective, there is absolutely no doubt that standing desks are beneficial. We know that the majority of injuries sustained by office workers are due to overuse and prolonged postures. Our bodies simply are not designed to spend hours upon hours in the same position. This is what happens when we sit at our desks all day. In doing so, small physical stresses accumulate, and postural muscular adaptations occur. Because these stresses are so small, we usually don't notice them, until they have accumulated to the point of an injury developing. At this point, it is much harder to fix the problem. 

Sit-stand desks provide office workers with the ability to change positions between sitting and standing regularly throughout the day. Very simply, this is the easiest way to prevent overuse injuries and postural adaptations from developing, by avoiding prolonged postures. So from a preventative perspective, standing desks are brilliant. 

With that said, our team of Physiotherapists at The Ergonomic Physio don't advocate that standing desks are a cure for all musculoskeletal problems experienced by office workers. Injured employees should be assessed and treated individually, based on their presentation. Ergonomic assessments are a great way to achieve this. Nevertheless, for the majority of people, and the majority of overuse injuries sustained in an office setting, standing desks are likely to be a major component in the treatment and prevention of those injuries for the very simple reason that they are the best way to prevent office workers from sitting in prolonged positions for too long, which in turn reduces the accumulation of physical stresses and the likelihood of postural adaptations from occurring.