Sedentary life is known as the cause of many of the ills that we live. One of the habits recognized as harmful is sitting for many hours at a time on the computer. In an attempt to solve this problem, the standing desk was invented.
Being seated all day is certainly not what we are designed for and our body is not going to get along. If we do not move our muscles will atrophy, our cardiovascular system will suffer and we will be more likely to die of a heart attack than if we live in the mountains and stay active, for example.
A standing desk is a desk that is simply higher and we can work on it standing still. There are true passionate and detractors of this new idea, as corresponds to something that becomes fashionable overnight. Today I want to analyze it from the common sense of a doctor like me and above all talking about the back, which is why we are here.
Standing standing may have benefits but it also has problems. He is credited with the benefit of activating more body muscles and becoming more energetic and avoiding problems of sedentary lifestyle. This is debatable but it is true that we are sure to spend some more energy.
Before talking about the back there is an effect on the venous system that I want to comment on. When standing, the pressure on the veins of the legs increases. The blood has to overcome the effect of gravity to be able to rise from the legs to the heart. This is achieved thanks to the contraction of the muscles that squeeze the veins pushing the blood upwards. Once the blood rises, a valve system prevents it from falling back down. If we are standing there is more blood pressure to the legs due to the effect of gravity. The basal tone of the muscles of the legs keeps us standing but not in contraction. In short, we will increase the chances of suffering from venous insufficiency and varicose veins over time.
Is the standing desk good or bad for the back?
There are two different situations:
1 – A person who has low back pain and wants to improve using a standing desk. A person who suffers from chronic low back pain or has a hernia with occasional leg pain will not improve using this table. The lumbar muscles will be exhausted after 15-30 minutes on average and the low back pain, discomfort or tingling in the leg will begin. The time may be variable but will occur. If we work all the time standing we will be systematically overloading the lumbar area and in the long run we will be worse. If we are less time and the muscles do not get tired, everything will be fine but they will be short work times.
2 – If tested by a person who has never had back problems, he may end up having discomfort or even having an injury if he is many hours in a row, day after day. To this must be added the problems for the venous system. The important thing is to move and be active, not standing instead of sitting.
In conclusion, the standing desk is neither better nor worse, it is different. It’s a fashion but you’re not going to be healthier by switching to this table or going to cure a back problem. What can be positive is to have both options to be able to vary between both. Either because we fit two tables or because it is a model that changes height with a button. For example, if we could stand 20 minutes sitting and 5-10 foot alternating it could be beneficial for the back. This would minimize the detrimental effect of back postures.