Renowned Australian physiotherapist Jenny Pynt wrote an interesting article recently on the Varier Furniture Blog entitled “Standing desks need a standing support.” With all the recent interest in standing to work these days she discusses some of the pitfalls of simply standing all day and how it can be bad for you.
Why prolonged standing is bad
If you simply decide to stand all day instead of sitting you may quickly find that you are replacing one set of problems with another. Standing for long periods is often associated with back and lower limb pain. This is a result of the build up of the load placed on the same muscles for prolonged periods.
Not only that excessive standing affects blood circulation and causes pooling of blood in the lower legs. The outcome of this is swollen legs.
The problem with just standing is the lack of support leaving your body with far too much to do.
Why you need support when standing
When you’ve been standing for a long time it’s usually a great relief to be able to sit down as it takes the pressure of those over stressed limbs. It’s not that standing to work is a bad thing it’s just that your body needs some support and variation of movement.
Leading seat designer Peter Opsvik has spent over 35 years designing innovative seating. In the early 1980s he came up with the concept of the Balans Supporter as a result of observing people standing at work. He realized that what was needed was something people could use as a perch to support themselves while standing. It allowed the user to adopt many different positions and so gain both movement and support.
Unfortunately the Supporter was never released as a commercial product which is a shame because in many respects it would have been a great accessory for standing workers.
Luckily there is a solution to this problem that is readily available.
How a Move stool makes the perfect support
Varier’s Move stool is a cleverly designed seat that acts both as a chair and a perch. It has a huge range of height adjustment making it suitable for sitting and perching.
Perching is an alternative way of working where you are neither sitting nor standing. Instead you are supporting your body in a very healthy open posture. It’s similar to using a tall bar stool without the drink of course!
One of the things that make it unique is its convex dish shaped curved base. It’s designed to used at an angle rather than upright. This makes it perfect for perching at a standing desk. The triangular shaped seat forms a natural resting place for your buttocks making it very stable in use.
And when you need to move to reach something on your desk the curved base rolls along as you move. It remains very stable and the great thing is it encourages movement providing stimulation of the spinal and abdominal muscles. So the problem of muscle inactivity is taken care of as you work.
Another key difference between the Move and a conventional office chair is your legs and feet remain in contact with the floor.
With a chair at extended height your lower legs and feet are left hanging in the air. This places pressure on the thighs and restricts the blood vessels resulting in swelling and decreased blood supply.
The reason the Move succeeds when working at a standing desk is that it encourages movement. Even so some unsupported standing is beneficial.
When standing is a good idea
As already pointed out excessive standing is a bad idea. However standing unsupported for short periods is good because it relieves pressure building up on your trunk. Additionally if you make small movements when standing this helps to keep your body healthy.
Putting it all together
Let’s quickly summarize the key points we’ve covered here:
- Prolonged standing places undue stress on your body
- Supported standing allows relief for overstressed muscles and limbs
- A Move stool is great for working at a raised work surface
- Some unsupported standing is good as it relieves pressure on the trunk
Want more background on the Standing Support? Go to the Resources page. You can find links to Jenny Pynt’s full article on the need for support when using a standing desk, more detail on the Varier Move stool, Peter Opsvik’s book “Rethinking Sitting” and other interesting links.