There are a growing number of office professionals moving away from sitting desks to standing desks, with various news reports highlighting the benefits of making the change. A colleague of mine this week sent me an article titled “Relinquishing your office chair does little to improve your health, new research suggests” that was published in the Sydney Morning Herald discussing one particular research study coming out of the University of Exeter in the UK. The study’s author, Dr Melvyn Hillsdon, was quoted stating that “our study overturns current thinking on the health risks of sitting and indicates that the problem lies in the absence of movement, rather than the time spent sitting itself.” So the big question to come out of this particular study is whether standing desks are worth the financial investment, or are there other alternatives to improve your health, promote healthy working environments and improve productivity? Most professionals will spend anywhere between 50% and 80% of their working day sedentary, not to mention the time spent travelling – usually sitting in a car, bus or train – and then return home after a long day and sit themselves in front of the television to unwind and relax from a stressful day in the office. So is the problem simply just sitting? The main issue is the lack of movement, as any stationary posture – whether sitting or standing – where energy expenditure is low could be detrimental to your health, with most individuals experiencing back or neck pain at some point in their professional lives. For some professionals with back and neck pain, sitting desks are much more comfortable compared to standing desks. Alternatively the same can be said about some professionals who find standing desks are more comfortable compared to sitting desks. From a physiotherapy perspective both standing desks and sitting desks have their advantages and disadvantages, especially for those professionals who suffer from back or neck pain. For those professionals who suffer from back pain due to tight hip flexors and/or intervertebral disc origin, sitting down all day can be quite uncomfortable and cause significantly more pain as the day progresses, and thus a standing desk may be of more benefit to these individuals. However, those professionals that suffer from back pain due to sacroiliac joint dysfunction, lumbopelvic impingement and/or facet joint irritation, degeneration or osteoarthritis, standing for prolonged periods can be quite detrimental for these individuals and result in further irritation, dysfunction and ultimately returning to a favourable position, a sitting desk. Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis of the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Health Sciences suggests a theory of a “toxic triangle” which encompasses three main issues. The first issue is that professionals simply don’t do enough intense exercise during the week. The second issue is that these professionals also don’t do enough physical activity (low intensity), whether that be walking, cycling or swimming. And lastly these professionals are just sitting too much in their everyday lives. Choosing between a sitting and/or standing desk is a difficult choice, but it is just one part of a bigger problem. Associate Professor Stamatakis’ research findings suggest that “replacing one hour of sitting with one hour of standing was linked to health benefits”. Irrespective of whether you prefer a sitting or standing desk there is one simple solution, everyone should replace one hour of their day sitting with one hour of physical activity (either low-to-moderate intensity or high intensity exercise) as this will improve your health, promote a healthy working environment and improve productivity. Dr Joan Vernikos, a NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) research scientist, published a book titled “Sitting Kills, Moving Heals”, promoting the message of how important it is to engage in incidental non-exercise movement throughout the day. The research Dr Vernikos conducted highlighted the requirements our bodies to interact with gravity in order to function properly. Instead of making a financial investment to alter your work station from a sitting to standing desk, rather aim to increase your incidental non-exercise movement throughout the day by taking the stairs, moving more and by remaining stationary less.

Written by David Cohen, Physiotherapist at UprightCare]]>

Larry is a highly skilled physiotherapist who specialises in treating back and neck pain, postural issues and scoliosis. He is certified in Schroth and SEAS methods and through the Egoscue University. Larry has a background in elite gymnastics and springboard diving and also has many years experience in endurance running and triathlons. His specialist knowledge and techniques have seen him appointed as a gymnastics coach and physiotherapist at both the Olympics Games and Special Olympics.

His passion and driving philosophy is about achieving the best outcomes for his patients utilising an amalgam of the latest techniques and theories while recognising there may sometimes be a need for invasive procedures. Where deemed appropriate Larry will then refer to a specialist. To further his holistic understanding and approach, Larry is currently undertaking a Ph.D. in Spinal Deformity and regularly attends and speaks at international conferences and courses and clinics.

Fun fact: Larry is learning how to surf - so be careful next time you go to the beach! Qualifications: B.Sc (Physiotherapy); M.Sc. (Exercise Physiology); Advanced Certificates in Schroth (BSPTS) and Egoscue (PAS) and SEAS Larry is Level II certified (advanced) in the conservative treatment of Scoliosis based on the Schroth method. The training was conducted by Dr Manuel Rigo of the Barcelona School at Scoliosis Rehab Inc in Wisconsin. He has completed his SEAS scoliosis treatment training at ISICO in Milan. Larry has also spent time working with Dr Rigo in the Barcelona clinic. Larry also has advanced certificates in shoulder treatment, posture alignment therapy and acupuncture.