Technology appears to be affecting our posture and our health more than ever. The average Australian is currently spending an average of 8.5 hours per day staring at a screen. So whether this is done sitting behind a desk all day or looking straight down on to your smartphone or tablet, the effects on your health could be profound. Research indicates that spending too much time sitting down increases your risk of diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease and early death. We also know that you utilise less muscle activation and therefore burn less calories when sitting all day. This means we are getting weaker and slowing down our metabolisms.
The healthcare and ergonomic industries are constantly looking for solutions to keep up with our rapidly changing postural demands. Over the past few years these industries have been encouraging the use of standing desks, promoting them as the solution to recurrent back and neck pain at work and creating a more ergonomic workspace. While they appear to be encouraging better posture and health, there are some negative consequences to prolonged standing.
In comparison to sitting, standing forces our circulatory system to work against gravity to send blood to the brain, and prolonged standing has been linked to poor concentration, headaches and occasionally dizziness. Standing for too long can also lead to swelling in the legs and ankles and if you have the tendency to have a ‘swayback’ posture, can also lead to back pain.
So what’s the best solution?
I believe adjustable desks are the best option on the market. A combination of sitting and standing, alternating every 30 minutes appears to be the safest, healthiest and most ergonomic solution. If This isn’t an option the best alternative is simply regular breaks from the desk and short walks to break up the day.
For more information on adjustable desks, brands and ideas to make your workplace more ergonomic go to www.notsitting.com or come and visit your osteopath at The Osteopathic Centre for some advice tailored to your posture.
Dr Anna Quillfeldt (Osteopath)