Standing desks, and especially height-adjustable desks, have shown promising results in increased productivity and overall health and well-being.
Many of the benefits of standing desks can be traced back to better posture and improved circulation.
But can they help to maintain or regain hip health? We put together this informational resource to help guide you on your search.
Your hips are the area where your femur (thigh bone) articulates with your pelvis.
The hips are the happy medium between the upper and lower body. They carry us in perfect balance. They help us to move forward, upward, or wherever it is that we need to go in life.
And so should our desks.
Our bodies were made for movement - perfectly and intricately synchronised to function as a whole.
Any movement or postural change is a complex orchestration between bones, joints, cartilage, muscles, and the tendons.
This means that weakness or injury in any area would automatically be compensated for in another.
Long-term incorrect posture and poor circulation may negatively impact more than just hip health. However, as it’s in the middle of your body, hip weakness may severely compromise both upper and lower body strength.
Let’s dive into the details.
Our bones offer structure and support.
The best way to support them in return is through a balanced lifestyle that includes healthy desk habits while you’re at work.
While bone density naturally decreases with age, weight-bearing exercises have shown positive results in increasing bone density.
Standing loads the hips with a better distribution of weight than sitting.
Compromised bone health as a result of long-term insufficient blood supply is also much less likely when using a standing desk since it improves both posture and circulation.
This is where you get to be a little bit bouncy.
Our joints offer flexibility: they help us to change direction with comfort and ease.
The hip joint refers to the ball-and-socket joint between the head of your thigh bone and the socket of your hip bone on either side of the pelvis.
Unfortunately, everyone occasionally has problems with this joint, especially as we age. But there’s some light and love ahead, and its name is movement.
Movement helps to maintain joint health, as well as the moisture balance between joints and cartilage. Exercise compresses the joints to force more nutrient-rich fluid into the cartilage, which in turn keeps smooth and comfortable movement possible and early degenerative changes at bay.
Flexor muscles are muscles that contract to cause bending. Hip flexors refer to the group of muscles in your hips that enables you to pull your legs upwards towards your torso.
The flexion, or pulling action, is what allows you to walk or lift your legs. Needless to say, they play a pivotal role in everyday activities, which is why it’s crucial to keep them healthy.
But when we sit, the hip flexors rest in an unnatural position while the legs and torso are pulled together. Excessive sitting can shorten your hip flexors, causing tightness and pain.
In turn, this limits movement, leading to further discomfort in a vicious cycle.
The best way to keep your hip flexors healthy is to keep moving, and this is where standing desks—adjustable height desks in particular—come in handy.
By moving and stretching your flexors every couple of hours rather than sitting sedentary for long periods, we give our flexors the attention they desperately crave.
Swollen ankles may be a result of standing on your feet for too long. Rotate to sit at appropriate intervals and make sure to move in between.
Tendons connect your hip muscles, or flexors, to your bones.
Tendons are inelastic but still flexible and assist in concentrating the pull of a muscle on a small area of bone. This means that any unnatural long-term stress or strain like sitting will take its toll on you.
Overuse, direct trauma, and muscle weakness or tightness, may all cause tenderness, pain, and inflammation of the tendons.
Pain serves as a pre-cursory warning to prevent injury or reduce further harm. It needs to be addressed and the necessary lifestyle adjustments made as soon as possible.
But there’s always an exception. In this case, hip pain during pregnancy.
The combination of extra pressure due to added weight on the hips, as well as the relaxation of joints and ligaments between the bones in the pelvis in preparation for new life to pass through, could naturally cause discomfort.
Should that not be the case, painful hips can mostly be ascribed to muscle weakness, injuries, inflammation or compressed nerves.
Muscle weakness and deterioration is a gradual process, with no specific injuries to trace the problem back to.
While any lack of muscle tone leads to imbalance and over-compensation in another area, sitting specifically weakens the gluteus medius - one of three paired muscles of the buttocks. The gluteus medius helps to stabilise both hips and pelvis. Therefore weakness in this muscle may cause hip and lower back pain, leading to further unnecessary pain and strain.
The magic bullet is movement. From hips to hamstrings, they all need their daily dose of exercise.
Increased physical activity leads to increased circulation and releasing endorphins - natural painkillers of note. Improved circulation, in turn, speeds up the healing process to reduce symptoms of pain and swelling.
Movement automatically increases flexibility and strength, which ultimately reduces the probability of problems altogether.
Wrist pain is most often due to incorrect desktop height. Make sure that your work surface is just below your elbows. Your wrists should be at an angle of about 90 degrees, slightly lower than your elbows. Should you still experience discomfort, look into extra wrist support, such as a wrist mat or cushion.
Heel pain is more likely a result of ill-fitting shoes with non-supportive soles or incorrect posture than standing at your desk.
Adjustable height standing desks are a solution to incorporate and promote physical activity.
While the difference in calories burned between sitting and standing at your desk is minimal, the calories burnt in the transition between the two postures are noteworthy. And the benefits of the added movement, way beyond weight loss.
Designed to dance, neither sitting nor standing in any position for a prolonged period is recommended for a blissfully bouncy body.
But the correct standing posture sure has its benefits.
Standing allows more freedom and flexibility for movement to alleviate pain and maintain optimal hip health. It improves circulation throughout the entire musculoskeletal system with a better alignment of core strength, support, and balance.
An adjustable height standing desk promotes gentle movement that improves muscle tone while respecting bones, joints and tendons. It is a positive investment with hip health in mind.
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