Do you have lower back pain when standing up from your desk?
You know what I mean? You get up out of a chair and feel like neanderthal man slowly evolving to an upright position as you delicately step across the room…..no matter what you do, that lower back pain is just there each time you stand up from your desk.
Why does that happen? What can you do to reduce it? Will it ever feel better?
We’re all aware that “too much sitting” isn’t great for our overall health and it can be one of many contributory factors in causing lower back pain when standing up from your desk.
So is a straightforward answer to this, and your lower back pain, to consider a standing desk?
Is a standing desk the answer to prevent lower back pain when standing up from your desk?
Last week proved really busy and a great opportunity to try out one of my recent Amazon purchases – a STANDING DESK frame….I’m using it to write to you now!!!
More and more we hear that sitting is bad for us – this is for a number of reasons:
– if we’re sitting, we’re not moving!
– not moving is not optimal for our circulation, health, joints or spine
– moving less burns less calories, important for weight maintenance and loss
– the way we sit often increases pressure on our spine & pelvic floor
So are standing desks THE ANSWER and should you all rush off and buy one right now???
My answer is quite simply No.
Here’s why & what you can do instead:
1. Standing desks for weight loss
Getting more movement into our everyday activity is important for something called NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis). I won’t go into more details here but this article explains more (see point 3 in particular):
Working at desks, driving, sinking into the sofa at the end of the day all mean we’re sitting for much more of our day. Thing is though, standing only burns 8kcal/hour more than sitting….so it’s not going to revolutionise fat loss any time soon!
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Set an alarm on your phone/watch to remind you to get up and move every 45 minutes. Aim to be moving for at least 10 minutes in every hour.
2. Standing desks better for spine health?
As I say above, we’re told about the effect of prolonged sitting on our spinal health. If you’re tucking your bottom under when sitting (as we tend to when on a really comfy sofa) then it also increases pressure onto your pelvic floor.
This can be the same when we’re working with desks and/or chairs that aren’t quite the right height for our body. Even when they’re adjusted, over time at our desks we can start to slouch and slump without noticing. This is one of the factors that gives rise to that lower back pain when standing up from your desk.
BUT prolonged standing can also be uncomfortable for your joints and spine. At the end of the day it’s motion that is lotion, rather than standing still.
So it’s not just about being standing. Your body does have to work harder to pump blood back up to the heart but this may not be the best thing for you.
Why a standing desk may NOT help with lower back pain on standing up from your desk:
What I noticed myself is that when I get absorbed in what I’m doing, my standing desk ENCOURAGES A WORSE POSTURE. My hips sink towards the desk if I’m typing (see the picture on the left above).
(You’ll also notice this makes my belly look bigger – one of the points I cover in my Flatter Tummy Guide)
If I’m reading and thinking, I tend to sink into my right hip with most of my weight in that one foot.
The picture on the right above, shows me when I’m being more mindful – using the standing posture we set up each week in Pilates:
– weight even through the feet
– front of the ribcage stacked above the front of my pelvis
Even then I’ve got a little bit of a forward head carriage (being super critical).
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREVENT LOWER BACK ACHE WHEN STANDING UP FROM YOUR DESK?:
– set trigger activities (like sending stuff to the printer, answering the phone, putting the kettle on) as trigger activities to move and be MINDFUL of your posture
alternate between standing and sitting as much as possible depending on the type of work you’re doing
WHAT IF YOU CAN ONLY SIT TO DO YOUR WORK?
The tips listed above will still work for you – find ways to get more movement into every hour!
You can see in the photos above that I have a towel draped over the chair in the background.
When I am sitting, I use this as a sort of wedge cushion to :
– get my hips higher than my knees
– encourage a lengthened spine
– prevent me from tucking my tailbone under (as this pressures the lower back and pelvic floor, often making us really stiff when we get up out of a chair)
Click HERE for a short video to explain how this works
So what can you do today to move more and sit less?
P.S. Want to join our next Pilates course – want to join us? CLICK HERE for information and to book
P.P.S. If you’re looking for an Online option to move more check out my Movement Bites or get in touch to learn about my online Pilates membership)
Lisa Gimenez-Codd is a Pilates Coach and Advanced Personal Trainer specialising in core and pelvic floor support through motherhood and menopause.