When I go through a consultation with a new patient, one of the most important topics we cover is trauma history. When discussing traumas, most people think of things like car accidents, broken bones, slips and falls, and concussions. These are undoubtedly important, and anything noteworthy should be discussed with your doctor before moving on, however, these are not the only traumas worth noting. These events are called macrotraumas, as in there was a one-time injury that caused significant body damage. However, one type of traumas often overlooked is microtraumas, repeated movements or posture-related issues that can have long-standing effects on our health.
The most common microtrauma that I see in patients is time spent sitting. I can’t tell you how many people tell me that they sit at a desk all day at work, only to go home and sit on their favorite couch or chair until bedtime. When we sit too much for too long, certain changes in the body occur, especially in the musculature. Some muscles will get tight and shortened, while other muscles will get weak and lengthened. This imbalance in muscle tone results in poor posture and movement patterns that can eventually result in pain or serious injury.
This brings me to the major point of this article; anyone who spends the majority of their time at work on a computer should look into using a standing desk. Just think about it, the human body was designed to stand up tall with our head up and eyes forward. We are also meant to move a lot, and only take breaks to sit when we are tired from moving. In today’s age, that has flipped completely – we sometimes only stand up when we get too tired of sitting! A standing desk just makes sense to allow your body to be in its most natural position and avoid those posture-related conditions.
Not only is a standing desk beneficial for your physical health, there has been some early research showing mental health benefits as well. A 2015 study out of Texas A&M University compared high school freshmen that were given the choice between using a standing or sitting desk. Testing was performed at the beginning and end of the school year, using four computerized tests to assess different cognitive skills and functions relating to the development of academic skills. Brain activation patterns were also observed by using biosensors on these students during testing. The results showed that continued use of standing desks was associated with significant improvements in function and working memory capabilities.
My recommendation for anyone thinking about getting a standing desk is to look for one that can rise up and down. This way you can spend the majority of your time standing while having the ability to easily lower the desk down to take a break to sit for awhile. I think a good mark to shoot for is 45 minutes standing for every 15 minutes sitting. I’d be happy to help find a good standing desk and have recommendations from patients for models that they have used and enjoyed. Finally, if your business requires a doctor’s note or recommendation for a standing desk that is something we can get for you as well. We’re happy to help in any way that we can!
Yours in Health, Dr. Alex
Project Wellness Company Madison, WI