I could not stand it any longer
October 11, 2011 7:16 AM   Subscribe

Back hurting from sitting at a desk reading Metafilter all day? Trying standing up for your rights! Or, just walk it off.
posted by Potomac Avenue (51 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have a friend with a fairly serious back injury who is really comfortable only while walking.

She's on disability now, but, for a few years, kept going with a walking desk and a headset for phone calls. She got fairly fit, and she really liked the set up. The only drawback was that, if she got really distracted, she would forget to walk and would be at risk for falling off the treadmill....
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:23 AM on October 11, 2011


I have a gym in my apt. complex where I work from. If I could figure out how to get a laptop to balance on the treadmill I would 100% do this. (Shout out to REAMDE for the idea).
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:28 AM on October 11, 2011


While sitting all day isn't good for you, I don't think standing all day necessarily is either. Ask anyone who has worked in a restaurant--waiters, bartenders, and chefs often have varicose veins, foot and back problems as complaints. And companies that sell gel mats for security guards have a market for a reason.

As with everything else, mix it up. Walking meetings are my favorite.
posted by oneironaut at 7:29 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


+1 for mix it up. It is the secret to almost all things, including desk work.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:31 AM on October 11, 2011


If you would have made a fake commercial for one of those Treadmill Desks on a sketch comedy show 20 years ago it would gotten huge laughs and people would have joked about it the next day at the office.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:34 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Due to a disc rupture, and general degenerative discs, I stand at work, pretty much all day. I will occaisonally find an empty office and take my laptop in there to sit - mostly I find it hard to have truly maximum concentration standing.

I use a rubber mat to stand on, shoes really matter, and it's important to be able to stand in different positions, and to shift from 2 feet to left foot to right foot. I sometimes put a knee up in my desk, and stand on one foot for a half hour or so.

Does it help? I dunno, maybe. It doesn't HURT, and sitting does, so...

Mixing it up is fine - I get plenty of sitting at home
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:34 AM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


We've got a couple guy here doing that thing, now. I'm like, whatevs.

Actually, my job is a perfect mix of running around production vs. sitting in a chair & surfing Metaf... printing film & checking email, so I'll be keeping my chair.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:34 AM on October 11, 2011


Speaking of walking, I applied for a job at Stanford years ago, and, late in the day, I had a solo meeting with the Chemistry Librarian. She looked at me and said "you look kind of wan." I laughed and said "well, I've had a long day in uncomfortable chairs in small meeting rooms under fluorescent lights." She said "there's no reason we have to do this in here, you know." So we strolled around the campus, traded questions, and she pointed out a few architectural features as we went. It is the most pleasant hour of interviewing I think I have ever done. So for one-on-one interviews, a walk is a nice change of pace. As it were.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:39 AM on October 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


I used to have an adjustable desk when I worked in Texas and loved it. I alternated between standing/sitting about every 2 hours or so and definitely felt the benefit.
posted by arcticseal at 7:40 AM on October 11, 2011


I walk around all day as a first-grade teacher; and bend down to tie shoes, kneel to get eye-to-eye, sit criss-cross-applesauce on the floor, etc.

Now when we have inservice days that require us to sit for extended periods I get exhausted. I usually sit for 15 min., stand for 15 min... I'd stand the whole time but sometimes we need to write, collaborate, etc. I'm probably pretty annoying.

Although, when we go to our art pullout I usually sit and do the art project with them. For that I can sit for an hour. So relaxing...
posted by Huck500 at 7:41 AM on October 11, 2011


I reluctantly make my money by sitting behind computers for long, long hours. As a contractor I can't generally show up and demand a standing desk, unfortunately. A few years ago I worked at one company long enough to gain enough clout that I converted my desk into a standing desk. I found the key is to add a high bar stool...this way you can sit on the stool from time to time, and stand from time to time. Best of both worlds. I currently have my desk at home set up like this and if I had my choice, I would never go back.

Standing at work resolved my lower back issues and eliminated IT band stress that was flaring up at the gym. I also generally felt more positive and upbeat during the day...because I was actually...you know...using my body like it was designed to be used.

I'm now contracting somewhere else and have to sit again. No matter how expensive the Aeron chair, my bodily problems return when I am seated for long periods during the day. My pelvis begins to tilt forward due to shortened hip flexors, which in turn causes lordosis of the lower spine causing lower back pain. The glutes weaken, the core weakens, the shoulders try to roll forward. I hate it. (and this is on top of daily gym and yoga).

I really hope more people adopt standing desks...I'd love for it to be the norm.
posted by jnnla at 7:43 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I work in a cube farm, standing and/or walking around is difficult and quite frankly, disruptive. I can see this for those who work in offices or from home but I can't imagine it for the rest of us unless it's universally adopted.
posted by tommasz at 7:49 AM on October 11, 2011


I could do with this kind of reminder more often, I have a fold down stand up desk installed alongside my regular desk and am trying to remember to make regular switches between the two. Its very handy as all I have to do is pull the monitor cable for the sit down out and stick in the standing monitor. My stand up desk is a decent size as well, so my forearms are comfortable on the table rather than hanging in space like all 4 of the women pictured in the second link. It's also very useful for protecting my office rights, it takes up enough space they would struggle to fit another person in.
posted by biffa at 7:58 AM on October 11, 2011


Data point: we just moved our GIS department and in the process they requested, and received, desks that electrically hoist up or down, for sitting or standing.

Now, we all want one.
posted by everichon at 7:58 AM on October 11, 2011


So we strolled around the campus, traded questions, and she pointed out a few architectural features as we went. It is the most pleasant hour of interviewing I think I have ever done. So for one-on-one interviews, a walk is a nice change of pace. As it were.

I had an interview at Cornell part of which was like this.

In February.

(I guess they wanted to make sure I knew that it gets cold there.)
posted by madcaptenor at 8:01 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't be surprised to see this turn into a best practice type of thing from a risk management/safety standpoint.
posted by everichon at 8:01 AM on October 11, 2011


I bought a tv stand and slide out keyboard tray and turned my desk into a standing desk. I've been using it for about 6 months now. definitely tired at the end of the day, but I feel better and sleep better.
posted by jrishel at 8:05 AM on October 11, 2011


At last, I can safely predict the death of chewing gum!
posted by Oyéah at 8:08 AM on October 11, 2011


I occasionally daydream about doing my job at a treadmill desk. It would be terrific! However, having spent my adolescence working summers in my family's factory, which involved standing still in front of the same machine for up to 9 hours a day, I definitely don't miss standing in place.

But yeah, when I start the next Google (it's happening, just you wait), all my employees will work at treadmill desks.
posted by dry white toast at 8:10 AM on October 11, 2011


I work two part-time jobs. At the one I think of as my "main" job, I've been using a standing desk for about a year. It's got a keyboard shelf that raises & lowers relative to the desk, and the desk itself can rise or fall from sitting to standing height. When I pull longer hours at the "secondary" job, where I have a conventional desk & office chair, I leave feeling older and tired.

Standing has just about completely eliminated my mild lower back pain, but reintroduced the foot pain that I remember from my days working in restaurants and bike shops. Personally, the trade-off has been worth it, but it's not completely satisfying.

I try to mix it up - I keep an exercise ball for sitting, and I have a few wooden wedges to stand on to stretch my calves, and I prefer walking to speak with people face-to-face rather than email/phone if I need to discuss a project. But I usually forget to change positions. As a programmer, when I'm really working hard I sort of forget I have a body.... I've been wanting to try the treadmill idea for a while, but I wonder if I could really type accurately while walking?
posted by richyoung at 8:11 AM on October 11, 2011


I really hope more people adopt standing desks...I'd love for it to be the norm.

It should be the norm. Obviously, no one should be forced to stand 8 hours a day instead. The day is to give the easy option of either.

I've been waiting for the first worker's comp claim against some cubicle farm ... Has anyone ever claimed damages for being forced to sit 8-12 hours a day?

I have a sit/stand desk, a shitty one with a hand crank that's busted, and I fucking had to get a doctor's note for my employer to give it to me (even though they already had several of them in storage). (grar!)

If you work an office or computer job where you actually type at the machine (not travel from meeting to meeting), I think you'd be crazy not to ask for for a sit/stand desk.

People exercise more and eat less than they used to, but we're still getting more overweight. Wonder why.

The conventional wisdom, though, is that if you watch your diet and get aerobic exercise at least a few times a week, you’ll effectively offset your sedentary time. A growing body of inactivity research, however, suggests that this advice makes scarcely more sense than the notion that you could counter a pack-a-day smoking habit by jogging.

Obligatory medical billing and coding infographic.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:16 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


day = idea (say it with a strong southern accent)
posted by mrgrimm at 8:17 AM on October 11, 2011


Eventually, we'll all be required by employers to stand at our desks all day, except if we provide a doctor's note. And the ones with the notes will be culled in the next layoff. (I have a really old hip injury that sometimes kicks up, making standing for long periods painful.)
posted by Frowner at 8:19 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've always preferred a standing desk combined with a sort of modified above-ground swimming pool. You can adjust the water level as you discover what works best for you -- some find that waist-high does well for them, others I've seen who had to practically tread water in order to type, I'm a xiphoid process man myself -- as well as the temperature, agitation level if you prefer jets, and honestly there is nothing more relaxing throughout a long work day. The postural benefits of standing up straights without the annoyances of gravity. It also saves me time getting dressed in the morning since I always know what I'll be wearing.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:22 AM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


also, a good desk can make a huge difference. i wouldn't have lasted a day the way those women had their desks jury-rigged.

also PROTIP: add foot rest underneath the standing desk to allow yourself to shift your weight around.

(I have a really old hip injury that sometimes kicks up, making standing for long periods painful.)

Heh. I have the same problem (18-inch rod in my hip). Sitting for longer periods is worse for me than standing.

The idea is that the option of sitting and standing while working at a computer is not some sort of bizarre luxury request.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:24 AM on October 11, 2011


My employer provides these to everyone now. Just a few years ago you had to be either a mechanical designer or have a doctor's note to get one. I have no idea who thought the mechanical desigers had it worse than the rest of us, but they finally realized that providing suitable surroundings for all prevented injuries.
posted by Harald74 at 8:33 AM on October 11, 2011


Oh, for goodness sake. You don't need fancy gadgets to keep a healthy spine while at a desk. Just use this Polynesian Ergonomic Solution and you'll be fine. Fine, fit, and sexy.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 8:37 AM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've been standing at my desk for a couple of months now and I can't imagine going back to sitting. I have found that over the course of a typical working day I'll end up sitting at least 2 hours anyway (in meetings, usually, where being the only person standing at the conference table would just be awkward).

It's not even so much a back issue for me -- standing, shifting weight from side to side, stepping back and forth as I think, etc. all help avert the feeling of slowly turning to goo with each passing hour spent sitting in front of the computer screen. I think it's a mental boost as much as a physical one.
posted by fikri at 8:57 AM on October 11, 2011


I've been working a lot in Scandanavia of late. It is the norm in every office that I've been in to have hydraulically adjustable desks. They were shocked when I expressed surprise. It was novel for the first few days (constantly adjusting it) but it comes into it's own after you realise that it is very useful and much more comfortable being able to change things around now and again. It also makes considerable allowances for the differences in people's heights, etc.

It is very good for discussing something with a co-worker (rather than one person sitting and the other hunched over a desk). Dismiss it if you will, but having used these hydraulic beauties I think they should be mandatory (Treadmill optional).
posted by ClanvidHorse at 9:29 AM on October 11, 2011


What I need is something that I can put on an existing workstation and crank up/down as I vary between sitting and standing. All of the products mentioned seem to be full desks or workstations.
posted by Karmakaze at 9:30 AM on October 11, 2011


I have a Ergotron Stand-up Desk Mount at work, which you can put on an existing workstation and crank up/down to vary between sitting and standing.

Works well with pomodoro - 20-30 min standing, 10 sitting.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 9:47 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think it's nuts that most places in the US still require a doctors note to get a standing desk. For years I've wanted to make a documentary called "Sit" about the link between our increasing sedentary job life and its link to the rise of obesity / lifestyle disease in this country...
posted by jnnla at 10:09 AM on October 11, 2011


At my night job, we worked standing up all the time. The ergonomics in that place were horrible, contributing both to my tendonitis and the fact that I don't work there any more. Standing up to work isn't a cure-all, at least not by itself.
posted by jiawen at 10:12 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just use this Polynesian Ergonomic Solution.

My typos are bad enough thank you.
posted by arcticseal at 10:29 AM on October 11, 2011


My officemate has got a cool Workrite sit/stand desk for back problems, but he says it's so that he can look down on me and all the temp workers crammed in here with us. It's pretty magical how smoothly it adjusts.

I could go for one or a job where I just don't sit so much. How to make data entry more physically demanding, that's the next big question for society...
posted by Mister Cheese at 10:46 AM on October 11, 2011


Fortunately my ADHD prevents me from sitting still for more than 15 seconds, so this isn't an issue for me. (Also I have small children running around demanding ridiculous things like that I get off the computer and make them lunch.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:48 AM on October 11, 2011


Mister Cheese, how about one of these gizmos?
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 10:51 AM on October 11, 2011


I used to trade on the floor of an exchange. Stood all day. Literally had no place to sit (even though I had a "seat" on the exchange). I never really thought too much about it until I stopped doing it and got older and got a paunch and health went down a little. Maybe it was the standing all day that was much better than the desk. Maybe I am just getting older.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:01 AM on October 11, 2011


Inspired by this thread (and a powerful drive to avoid doing any real work), I have just fashioned my own crude standing desk. Behold the porch railing hook-on laptop standing desk. Woot.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:19 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


WorkingMyWayHome, I was thinking something a bit more like creating physical representations of data entry process. Like data cells manifested as a trough you set data bricks into. The trough reads the data bricks and sticks that into the database. Or maybe a spreadsheet would be projected onto a gigantic rock climbing wall, and to enter data into a cell you have to climb there and use some sort of projected keyboard on the cell to type the data in.

Totally ridiculous ideas that would be terrible for productivity in the sense it would take longer than just typing it in. But at least I wouldn't feel like my health is slowly being leeched away from me as the hours pass.
posted by Mister Cheese at 11:25 AM on October 11, 2011


I understand the point of sitting is that it's more restful than standing, allowing you to focus your energies on the intellectual work you engage in at the computer. I've never tried a standing desk. How tiring is it to try to type for hours standing up?
posted by Dragonness at 1:43 PM on October 11, 2011


I'm a programmer who spends my day typing. Three years ago, I went to a standing desk by putting my existing desk up on blocks. It was a cheap way to test it out, but after the first week I knew there was no going back. It took a couple days for my feet to get used to the change, and I had to start buying good shoes, but even after the first week my chronic lower back problems had vanished.

This spring I added a treadmill from TreadDesk. Now, I can walk at up to 2mph (an amble, really) without affecting my typing and get in sixteen miles a day. I worked my way up to that speed over a couple weeks, and it took about that long for my legs to be able to walk without thinking about it. I love it.

My company recently moved to a new office, so I took the opportunity to upgrade from a desk on blocks to a large adjustable desk from GeekDesk. The desk is large enough that I can have my computers on one half (all three monitors) and the other half for sketching and other paperwork. The adjustable part makes it easy to lift up a few inches when I'm walking and down a few inches when I'm standing. It's great.
posted by ewagoner at 2:12 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Having endured my fair share of 2-hour+ gigs over the past 10 years I know that a stand-up desk is definitely not for me.
posted by smithsmith at 6:24 PM on October 11, 2011


Ah yes what a crazy fad...people working in ways their bodies were designed to, rather than sitting in an artificial posture that causes problems. What will those kids think of next?

I wish people would use their heads and get to the root causes of these things like those people instead of buying the next gel wrist rest or angled cushion or whatever.
posted by Not Supplied at 6:56 PM on October 11, 2011



While sitting all day isn't good for you, I don't think standing all day necessarily is either. Ask anyone who has worked in a restaurant--waiters, bartenders, and chefs often have varicose veins, foot and back problems as complaints. And companies that sell gel mats for security guards have a market for a reason.


Yeah my dad's worked in restaurants my whole life. I love sitting down.

Wish i had a more comfortable way to play vidgames than lying on my bed, though (no room for a couch).
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:22 PM on October 11, 2011


Yeah my dad's worked in restaurants my whole life. I love sitting down.

One nice thing about standing all day is that you start to appreciate sitting down more. A lot more. (That applies trebly to using a wheelchair and walking.)

It usually gives me a feeling like I actually did some work, instead of sitting on my ass all day. It also tends to keep my mind more alert and active. When I am sitting I am more prone to look for distractions (metafilter).

I understand the point of sitting is that it's more restful than standing, allowing you to focus your energies on the intellectual work you engage in at the computer. I've never tried a standing desk. How tiring is it to try to type for hours standing up?

The typing is not difficult or tiring at all for me. The only thing that's tiring is the actual standing, but it additionally give you more opportunity to stretch your legs and arms, I think. And if you have a sit/stand, you can always take sitting breaks.

I think everyone's best solution will heavily depend on their own personal health situation.

... yet even with all of the benefits I feel standing at work provides, I still will occasionally lapse into weeks of sitting. Those periods also tend to coincide with junk-food intake. The physical appeals of relaxation and easy gratification must be very strong.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:33 PM on October 11, 2011


I have just started standing at work in the last three weeks and my ten-year-old back/hip stiffness is disappearing rapidly.

My theory is that the deep muscles in my groin and lower back had atrophied from twenty years of severe underuse because I sit all day. Everything was uncomfortable, sitting, lying, walking etc. When I went to the movies I had to take one of those inflatable disc shaped cushions to sit on or for back support. Now I stand most of the day, unless if I feel like a sit down, and for the first time in ten years I feel I will soon regain full health.

My solution is cheap and simple. I have always sat at an IKEA table. I bought an IVAR table to sit on top of that (cost : £7), then put my monitor on top of that and hey presto, its at eye level. My arms dont reach the desk top so I put a step (like you would use for step aerobics) on my desk and my keyboard on top of that. If I want to sit down and work, I take the IVAR table and the step off the desk.

My advice is : try it.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 3:52 AM on October 12, 2011


Anyone who worked as a graphic artist before computerization and cube farms happened will probably think this is old news. Adjustable-height (and angle) drawing boards have long been the norm for designers and artists for ages. It wasn't until the industry became computerized that ended up sitting all day, every day at work.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:41 AM on October 12, 2011


While sitting all day isn't good for you, I don't think standing all day necessarily is either.

We need workstations that move between standing and squatting. Then don't make kids sit at school for 11 years and get conditioned to sitting and they'll be able to squat naturally.
posted by Not Supplied at 6:28 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


For anyone worrying about how to pull off a standing desk in a cubicle, it can totally be done! The trick is finding a "Children's Activity Table." These are shorter and less wide than typical coffee tables.

Behold!

Obviously, this requires the okay of your employer, and sign off from the people in the cubes on either side of you. Thankfully, I'm on the aisle, so I only have one neighbor. Double-thankfully, he's a stander too, and we've constructed a high-quality privacy shield.

Behold Again! (That sliver of dark above the shield is the top of his head.)

I would love to bring a treadmill into the mix, but worry it would be too loud for my office. Still, just by standing, I've largely eliminated the chronic back pain that's plagued me most of my life. If I'm going to be standing uninterrupted for more than and hour, I usually change into some trail running shoes, which provide much better support.
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:07 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whenever Steve Jobs took someone out for a walk around the marina near our offices at NeXT, they were getting "the Steve Walk" which was normally Steve convincing them of something, to take a job or to stay at NeXT, or sometimes to close a deal with the head of some tech company. I was already at NeXT when I took the Steve Walk, and it worked on me -- I took a larger role and never looked back. I didn't know Steve in the John Sculley days, but I always imagine him delivering the "do you want to sell sugar water or change the world" line while walking around the Apple campus.
posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 9:44 AM on October 12, 2011


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