Can standing more often at work reduce musculoskeletal discomfort?

Sit-stand workstations are gaining popularity all over the world but are they worth the hype or will they soon be a distant memory just like fitball chairs of the past? As workplace injuries are so costly, a buzz is naturally created when a new piece of equipment comes on the market that claims to reduce the risk of injuries.

If you were to read through the marketing material for companies selling sit-stand desks, you would be forgiven for thinking it was one of the greatest inventions of modern times. There are suggestions that it can benefit health, increase productivity and of course decrease the risk of injuries.

Nearly everybody that has worked in a seated workstation in an office will be familiar with symptoms of stiffness, aches and pains with previous research suggesting that around 60% of office workers report physical discomfort from prolonged sitting. A study that investigated the impact of moving from sitting workstations to sit-stand workstations found that variations in sitting and standing postures was shown to have reduced levels of musculoskeletal complaints. It makes sense that if you alter your posture throughout the day, then you are likely to have reduced levels of discomfort.

A lot of the research into sit-stand desks is still preliminary (although promising), may not suit everyone and as a result it is too early to make conclusive claims. As a result, workplaces need to do their due diligence investigating whether a sit-stand workstation is appropriate and may need to employ the help of an expert in the field to assist. Like any workstation, it must be the right fit for the person that is going to use it, so a blanket approach should not be taken. Sit-stand workstations may have particular benefits to those workers that already have an injury and are looking at management strategies.

The Accredited Exercise Physiologists at Absolute Balance specialise in ergonomic assessment and training and are available for consultation if you think a sit-stand desk might be appropriate for you or your workplace. Extensive training and education can be provided on appropriate set up, workstation design and biomechanical principles. If you would like more information on how Absolute Balance can assist, please contact via info@absolutebalance.com.au

 

Aaron McErlaine (BSc – ExHealth, BSc – ExRehab, Dip WHS, Cert IV TAE)
Senior Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) (ESSAM)

M 0499 919 670 – P 9244 5580 – F 9244 5582

 

 

References

 

Karol, S., & Robertson, M. (2014). Implications of sit-stand and active workstations to counteract the adverse effects of sedentary work: A comprehensive review. Work, 52(2015), 255-267.

 

Husemann, B., Von Mach, C., Borsotto, D., Zepf, K., & Scharnbacher, J. (2009). Comparisons of musculoskeletal complaints and data entry between a sitting and a sit-stand workstation paradigm. Human Factors, 51(3), 310-320.