On average, workers spend nearly six hours a day sitting at a desk, according to an employee survey conducted by British researchers. The same study found that employees who sit longer were also likely to spend more time sitting when out of the office. It’s no secret that sitting for long periods isn’t good for the spine or the soft tissues around it. An increasingly popular solution in office environments is the standing workstation. While this may sound like an ideal solution in theory, there’s research suggesting simply opting to stand at work isn’t an instant cure for spine pain.
There Is No Single Perfect Solution
Choosing between sitting and standing all day at work is kind of like choosing between diet and exercise. While there are certainly benefits to watching what you eat, your dietary efforts aren’t going to be as meaningful if you’re not getting much exercise. As for sitting or standing at work, standing is the better of the two options if you have to make a choice. However, you can still place prolonged pressure on your spine whether you are standing or sitting. As is the case with diet and exercise, your Los Angeles spine surgeon will likely recommend trying to find a balance between sitting and standing at work.
Listen to Your Body
Your body wasn’t designed to remain in any one position for a long time, whether sitting or standing. Mix things up throughout your day by finding opportunities to stand and sit. For instance, you might stand up when on a long phone call, sit down to work on a report, and then get up at lunch to walk around and get some exercise. Also, listen to your body in terms of discomfort you experience. If you start feeling aches and pains in your lower back, thighs, buttocks, or legs, shift positions to ease muscle and nerve pressure.
Posture Is What Matters
Standing or sitting while you work isn’t going to make much of a difference if your overall posture isn’t good. In addition to paying attention to how long you are staying in the same position, also focus on your posture. Specifically, make an effort to:
- Keep your head balanced directly over your shoulders, hips, and knees
- Avoid leaning forward to the point where the weight of your head is supported almost entirely by your neck (which amounts to about 10 to 11 pounds of extra weight)
- Wear comfortable shoes at work, and keep your heel height at a reasonable level to avoid throwing off your spinal alignment when you’re standing
- Avoid slumping in your office chair when you sit, or switch to an ergonomically designed chair, if possible
The problem with standing all day is that you can still get into the habit of staying in one position for a long time if you’re focused on a task at your workstation, which can be just as bad for your back as hours of sitting. Another option is to use a sitting-standing desk that can be adjusted throughout your day based on the activities you’re doing and when you feel like you need a change of position. If such a setup isn’t allowed in your workplace, try to vary your positions as much as possible and take periodic breaks to walk around and stretch.
If you are experiencing chronic pain and believe surgery might be the solution, reach out to The Spine Institute. We are Los Angeles’ top choice for spinal procedures such as decompression surgery and anterior lumbar interbody fusion. Los Angeles residents who are seeking relief for their pain can put their trust in Dr. Hyun Bae and his team of expert surgeons. Call 310-858-7757 today to schedule an in-person evaluation.