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standing desks back pain

How Can Standing Desks Help Back Pain?

National Pain Week starts today and so there’s no better time to talk about how standing desks can best help with back pain. With many of us still spending the majority of our time sitting at work, lower back and middle back pain problems are still very common. With so many different back pain solutions available, it’s difficult to know the right way to go. But by understanding why these problems occur, and incorporating standing into our workday, we can find lower back pain relief. Read on to find out more. 

Are Standing Desks Really Better for You? 

There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about both the pros and the cons of sit stand desks and their ability to help back pain. It wasn’t so long ago that the standing revolution came, as a consensus formed that our sedentary lifestyles were a ticking timebomb. But the idea that sitting all day could be such a huge health issue came as a surprise to many. 

Perhaps not to those of us who live with back pain, one of the most common side effects of sitting all day. An estimated 3.7 million Australians suffer from some form of lower or upper back pain. Lower back pain causes problems to many of us. Sitting for extended periods in an unnatural position is cited as one of the major contributing factors to chronic back pain. So it’s no surprise that, given the suggested benefits, many more people now choose to stand at work. To many with back pain, standing desks seemed to present the answer. 

And this shift in behaviour brought with it a whole new body of evidence. As people began spending extended periods standing rather than sitting, we learned that there are two sides to this coin. Despite the positives, some people have found that standing for long periods can be problematic. This is especially true for people suffering back and joint pain. Sure, standing desks are better for posture, and so clearly standing desks are also good for your back. But too much standing can cause different issues. So, are standing desks effective when it comes to relieving back muscle pain? And if not, how do we find back pain relief?   

How Do Standing Desks Relieve Back Pain? 

Standing desks have many positive health benefits. Sitting all day has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Standing at work is also estimated to burn up to 1000 extra calories a week. Which is all great of course, but how do you get rid of aches and pains? And how can you relieve back pain at your desk?

The human body isn’t evolved to sit still – we are built to be both active, and upright, if not most, then at least some of the time. It is for exactly this reason that so many office workers experience back pain. Our bodies do not like being in unnatural positions for extended periods of time. And our backs seem to suffer the worst from it. 

Most of us sit in positions which place strain on our backs. Many of us sit with our backs curved, slouching, placing pressure on the lower back. Or, equally as bad, some people lean in and curve their shoulders, placing strain on the neck and back muscles which are supporting the weight of your head. 

Ensuring we have the correct posture when sitting can help, of course. Keeping yourself upright, and using a seat that provides proper lumbar support can relieve lower back pain. Ensuring you are at the correct height relative to your monitor and mouse will help with this too, and even with neck pain and shoulder pain. With a mindful approach and investment in dedicated chairs and desks, it is certainly possible to minimise the negative effects of sitting. And of course, supplementing this with exercises for lower back pain, not to mention stretches for back pain, can be effective. 

None of this addresses the core issue though – we are simply not built to sit all day. Even with these adjustments, we can still find ourselves experiencing pain at our desks. So there is a strong argument for standing at work. Keeping the spine straight and not placing unnatural pressures on it and the muscles that support it will help prevent strains, and postural and spinal issues. Logically this will minimise back problems and back pain. Interested in other benefits of standing desks? See our post on the value of standing desks.

But standing all day can create its own problems. Standing still all day, it turns out, is actually not any more natural than sitting all day. But can standing desks actually hurt your back? Poor standing posture just like poor sitting posture can place unnatural pressure on the spine, leading to pain also. So what to do? 

Is Standing or Sitting Better For Lower Back Pain?   

office back pain

Like most things in life, the answer isn’t black and white. Both sitting and standing at work present their own problems, and for the same reason. Our bodies just aren’t built to stay in one set position for any length of time. We not only need to be careful about our posture and mindful of the ergonomics of our set up at work. 

And even though it’s so important to take regular breaks to let the body move freely, all of this is often not enough. We also need to vary the position of our body. So if you’re now wondering if standing desks are a good idea, or if not then what are the best standing desks, allow me to introduce the sit/stand desk. It’s a great option for those of us who suffer back pain. 

But what are sit/stand desks? Well, no prizes for guessing really: sit/stand desks are height-adjustable desks which allow you to switch easily between sitting and standing when you choose during the workday. Our bodies are all built differently, and naturally, we all know our own back pain red flags best. How long you should stand with a standing desk depends entirely on you. 

Using adjustable sit stand desks could provide the correct balance to helps you combat back pain. Why not check out Zen Space Desks’ full line of height adjustable computer desks? We’re sure we’ll have something that suits your needs.