Stand up to ease your lockdown aches and painsJanuary 29 2021
Stand up to ease your lockdown aches and pains
Here at the clinic we are seeing a huge increase in the number of patients coming to see us with back, neck and shoulder pain. Whilst there are many reasons for this, the number one reason seems to be unsuitable home working environments.
You may have finally moved from the sofa, or worse still, the bed, to a desk and invested in a proper office chair, but given how little most of us now move during the working day it would be a great idea to consider standing up for at least part of your day to improve productivity and ease back, neck and shoulder pain.
On the flip side, standing still for long periods of time isn’t great either, with back, leg and foot pain all common symptoms.
The solution for healthier WFH is therefore a mixture of sitting, standing and generally moving around, as Catherine Quinn, president of the British Chiropractic Association explains. “The good news is that simple changes can make a really big difference to all age groups," she says. "Our bodies love variation, so try to change the position you work in – if you work at a desk or table, consider a laptop stand which will allow you to work standing up. I’ve improvised with a small coffee table on top of my desk as a DIY standing desk. Just make sure your screen is eye level.”
What is a desk riser / standing desk converter?
These adjustable units sit on your existing desk and give you the option of sitting or standing with your laptop, keyboard and monitor staying in the ideal position for comfortable working.
You can adjust the height to suit, and, depending on the model you choose, they can be raised electronically or manually.
Price, specification and quality varies enormously, with desk risers costing from £75 - £450, but if you already use a separate monitor, keyboard and mouse, and not just your laptop, which is an ergonomic nightmare regardless of whether you sit or stand, you could create your own.
If you’re feeling inventive IKEA Hackers is a great source of DIY inspiration, and some people do use a pile of books, a small coffee table or an empty box , this can be a good short term solution, assuming you get the ergonomics right.
Your desk needs to be deep enough to give 50-70cm distance between your eyes and your monitor. The screen should be tilted up at around 20 degrees, and the top should be at or slightly below eye level to avoid slouching. As with any desk, your wrists should be straight and your hands at or slightly below the level of your elbows.
A desk riser – or pile of books - and wireless keyboard on a standard kitchen worktop might be ideal for occasional stand-up sessions, and a healthy change of scenery. Deskmate, the pop-up cardboard box riser, offers a cheap (from £29.90) and surprisingly robust alternative if the DIY route doesn’t suit.
At the cheaper end of the market you need to make sure the lift mechanism is smooth and can handle the weight of a monitor, and the pressure you exert on your keyboard. If you’re heavy handed and hammer away at the keys, the whole stand may bounce with each keystroke, especially with the cheaper cantilevered designs.
If you like to spread documents out across the desk you may find using a desk converter irritating as workspace is limited. Large 90-100cm wide designs are available with mounting space for two monitors, but make sure you choose an electric lift mechanism. In this scenario, however, a complete sit/stand desk might be a more viable option.
The price of standing desks is dropping, with IKEA now offering their SKARSTA manually adjusted 120 x 70cm desk (above) for just £195 and there are several basic motorised desks on Amazon for a similar price. These are great if you have a dedicated office, but not so practical if you’re having to work from the dining-room table.
Here are some other options worth investigating, its important to choose the right option for your particular requirements, but one thing is for sure, with WFH here to stay for some time yet, investing in a more back and neck friendly workspace is going to pay dividends!
Some suggestions for sit stand desks/desk risers: