The perfect working desk posture is something that every worker in the world is trying to obtain. But what is it, exactly? Is it the classic seated position with hips, knees, and elbows all bent to a perfect 90 degrees? Or is it converting your desk to a standing workstation, because standing has just got to be better than sitting, right? There is a growing sentiment amongst workers and non-workers alike that the “perfect posture” must be obtained to eliminate pain and discomfort. Furthermore, the phrase that “sitting is the new smoking” promoted by media outlets and fear-based advertising has effectively scared people from assuming comfortable sitting positions and popularized the use of standing workstations. We’re going to put that notion that sitting is the new smoking to rest and show you what the actual perfect working desk posture looks like!
Sitting Is NOT The New Smoking
Demonizing sitting as the new smoking would be completely incorrect. It’s like saying that laying down is bad for you! These notions have come from well-meaning research publications, like this meta-analysis by Rezende et al 2014, which found that sedentary behaviors are associated with an increased risk of mortality causing diseases like diabetes. The key point in their conclusion is that sedentary behavior was associated with this risk – not necessarily sitting. Sedentary behavior could be sitting in the perfect working desk posture for 8 hours a day, without moving at all in front of a computer screen; however, it’s important to differentiate the term sitting and sedentary, as they are not the same.
Working for an entire day in a seated position, but taking constant movement breaks, is enough to reverse the potentially harmful physiological effects of sedentary behavior. In a 2014 study by Dempsey et al, they found that prolonged sitting results in the elevation of blood pressure in individuals with Type 2 diabetes. However, when they interrupted this prolonged sitting every 30 minutes with 3 minutes of light resistance exercise, they found that it resulted in a decrease in elevated blood pressure! Thus, taking breaks from sitting effectively breaks up sedentary behaviors!
Do You Need A Program Dedicated To Improve Your Posture?
Many people around the world are moving less and are sitting more now than ever before. Your best posture is your next posture, and we have the perfect plan designed to help improve your posture! Learn more HERE.
Sit To Stand Desks Work, But How?
Sit to stand desks have been all the rage lately in the workplace to combat the “pandemic of sitting.” But what is it, exactly, that makes them so beneficial? Is it just the fact that they allow you to stand? Just as we discussed that sitting all day, even the perfect working desk posture, counts as sedentary behavior…so does standing for 8 hours a day! A 2018 study by Baker et al suggested that prolonged standing may be associated with venous insufficiency, atherosclerotic progression, as well as back and lower limb discomfort. Furthermore, it reported that bouts > 2 hours of uninterrupted standing resulted in decreased cognition. I don’t think these findings are all that alarming, considering that being on your feet all day would surely cause your feet to be a little sore!
Like with everything else regarding the human body, optimal dosing is key. Too much of anything, even something good, could be a bad thing!
Sit to stand desks have been shown to be effective in decreasing discomfort in office workers not because they just simply allow you to stand, but because they encourage movement. When you’re standing, you naturally shift your weight from one leg to the other. I personally like to use a stool under my sit to stand desk to place my foot. This not only allows me to shift weight from one leg to the other but also encourages movement in my hips to flex and the associated posterior pelvic tilt and slight lumbar flexion that comes with that movement!
Sit to stand desks, like the SmartDesk2 from Autonomous AI and UPLIFT V2 that we have, not only gives us more movement options in a standing position but also allows us to constantly switch between a sitting and standing position throughout the workday. With sitting OR standing, we can let our bodies go into whatever posture or position it feels like! That could be your classic “bad posture” or your “perfect posture”, it doesn’t matter as the perfect working desk posture is the one that keeps you moving!
HOW: Get set up seated upright with your hands supported on your thighs. Begin the exercise by rounding your upper body and head/neck forward, letting your spine bend forward as your hands slide down your thighs. Reverse the motion to sit upright nice and tall and let your back/spine arch and extend. Repeat
FEEL: This should feel like a global stretch to your upper/lower and mid back, depending how far you move. As you round, you should feel a stretch in your back, as you arch and squeeze your shoulder blades back, you may feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders. This should feel like a gentle motion that you’re in control of.
COMPENSATION: Limit movement to your upper body, and keep your lower body still.
Maximize Your Workspace Environment
Seated Thoracic Spine Rotations
Stabilize your arm on the inside of one leg and rotate open towards the opposite side as far as you can.
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Get set-up standing with a box or object in front of you that you can put one foot upon. The side that remains down on the ground is the one getting the stretch. Put one foot up, perform a posterior pelvic tilt, and shift your weight forward until you feel a stretch. Hold that position for a moment, back out of it and then repeat to make it dynamic
Your best working desk posture is your next posture, so keep moving!!
Posture Exercises To Maximize Your Mobility At Your Fingertips!
When we think of the thoracic spine one word comes to mind; neglect. Thank you for striving to replace that word by completing this program! The thoracic spine is structurally designed to allow mobility to happen. If this area becomes neglected, the lower back and shoulders can become angry neighbors. The solution becomes restoring peace in the neighborhood by owning thoracic mobility. The block party is 8 weeks away and you are hosting the thoracic spine, get ready to impress your neighbors!
Baker, Richelle, et al. “A Detailed Description of the Short-Term Musculoskeletal and Cognitive Effects of Prolonged Standing for Office Computer Work.” Ergonomics, vol. 61, no. 7, 2018, pp. 877–890., doi:10.1080/00140139.2017.1420825.
Chambers, April J., et al. “The Effect of Sit-Stand Desks on Office Worker Behavioral and Health Outcomes: A Scoping Review.” Applied Ergonomics, vol. 78, 2019, pp. 37–53., doi:10.1016/j.apergo.2019.01.015.
Dempsey, Paddy C., et al. “Interrupting Prolonged Sitting with Brief Bouts of Light Walking or Simple Resistance Activities Reduces Resting Blood Pressure and Plasma Noradrenaline in Type 2 Diabetes.” Journal of Hypertension, vol. 34, no. 12, 2016, pp. 2376–2382., doi:10.1097/hjh.0000000000001101.
Mula, Allison. “Ergonomics and the Standing Desk.” Work, 2018, pp. 1–4., doi:10.3233/wor-2736.
Rezende, Leandro Fornias Machado De, et al. “Sedentary Behavior and Health Outcomes: An Overview of Systematic Reviews.” PLoS ONE, vol. 9, no. 8, 2014, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105620.
About The Author
Michael Lau, PT, DPT, CSCS
[P]rehab Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer
Michael was born and raised in Northern California but now currently resides in Sunny SoCal ever since attending the University of California, Los Angeles as an undergraduate majoring in physiology. After his undergraduate studies, he received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from cross-town rival the University of Southern California. As a licensed physical therapist with a strong background in strength and conditioning, Michael likes to blend the realms of strength training and rehabilitation to provide prehab, or preventative rehabilitation, to his patients. A common human behavior is to address problems after they become an issue and far often too late, which is a reactionary approach. He believes the key to improved health care is education and awareness. This proactive approach-prehab-can reduce the risk of injuries and pain in the first place. He is a huge proponent of movement education and pain science. Clinically, he has a special interest in ACLR rehab and return to sport for the lower extremity athlete.
Disclaimer – The content here is designed for information & education purposes only and is not intended for medical advice.