Thursday, September 6, 2012

Still Standing

Let's revisit the topic of Standing Up at work.

I was recently chatting with fellow lawyer-runner Penny about my standing-up at work situation.  I originally started standing at work at the advice of two separate physical therapists, who attributed the running pain I was/am experiencing in my hip/buttcrease to hamstring tightness and glute weakness, both which could be attributed to my relatively newer habit of sitting all day on the job.  I had been working, and therefore sitting more than ever, for about 8 months when I first noticed the running issues.

I'm going on nearly six months of standing while working now, so I can confidently call myself a BLOG PRETEND EXPERT on the subject, and share what I have learned.

First, it is very tiring in the beginning.  I had to take many sit breaks, and couldn't last longer than 3 hours on my feet.

After several weeks, the standing became more second nature, and I now rarely find myself getting tired from standing.

My current work station sitch.  Count 'em, four boxes.
Second, everyone will want to talk about the eyesore that is your work station, if you create a standing situation with boxes, like I did.  

A lot of people want to know why I am standing, and then they share how they know xx many people who also stand while they work.  

Some people want to share tips on how I can buy a different kind of chair if I am having "back" problems (I....am not having back problems.)  

Some people just make fun of me, and then call me out when they catch me leaning against the desk with my arms for support (I do that regularly).  

And lately, people have remarked upon it because it was in the news in August that sitting for extended periods of time shaves a few years off your life (likely because sitting long hours tends to mean exercising less, eating more, etc.)

Ideally, I will one day get some apparatus that can be raised or lowered, and has two levels -- one for the computer, one for the keypad.  I've been searching, they are in the $300 range.  Despite the eyesore that leads to all these conversations, I'm confident my work does not care about me enough to consider setting me up with the real deal.  So boxes for now, until I find an affordable replacement. 

As you can see from the photo above, my work laptop is nice and high, at eye level, and my keypad is quite low, so my elbows are just barely bent.  I rarely have issues with the ergonomics of this arrangement, only wrist pain if I am really, really typing up a storm for a few hours straight.  

If I want to sit, I go on the other side of my desk, where my work chair and empty desk space is. I can review documents or bring my laptop over.  However, now that I have been standing and really acclimated to it, I find that I...literally...start to fall asleep if I try to work while sitting.  So I relegate sitting only to times when I am wiped from a hard morning run, or am working on something that involves a lot of page flipping.  


Looking down at my work spill mat, which used to be for popping wheelies with my desk chair.  

Third, and probably the most important part, my body feels much better--both throughout the day, at the end of the day...but only maybe a little while running.  I still haven't managed to fix that.

It used to be that if I ran in the morning before work, my legs would creak and crack with stiffness and pain when I got up from my desk after sitting for a long period of time.  Now, my legs are loose and happy all day long.  In fact, now when I sit, my buttcrease pain becomes really pronounced.  I get squirmy and miserable after about 30 minutes of sitting upright (I seem to feel just great sprawled around on a couch :) ).

I also think my hamstring flexibility has improved.

A happy butt makes a happy RoseRunner ;)

Fourth, I focus better at work while standing (see above, I now fall asleep while sitting) because I am more alert, and that hopefully means better work product. Try falling asleep while standing!  It doesn't happen.  I am also less tired at the end of a work day now.  Sitting makes me sleepy, and then I go home and want to sit some more.

Fifth, an issue that probably shouldn't have been as surprising to me as it was, is that I have to (get to) eat more at work.  Standing is clearly burning through more energy than sitting, even though I do often lean against the desk.  I found that I had to bring an extra snack (200-300 calories-ish, like an extra protein bar) to work almost immediately once I started standing.

Sixth, it's true.  I don't wear heels to work anymore. Oh wait...I never wore heels to work.  I will wear them to court, to an event, to an interview, but then they come straight off.  I have a couple pairs of shoes that are "kitten heel" height, and even those, I have to take off more than half the day while working.  My feet smell like roses, don't worry.

My advocacy for standing at work has rubbed off on the Gentleman, who has been trying to get a stand-up situation going at his work as well.  He has seen that I have more energy and feel better at the end of the day.  He has back problems, and a work schedule that sometimes requires 12-13 hours of sitting....ugh...that just cannot make your body happy.

His firm is very large, but he also does not feel comfortable asking for a flexible/stand-up desk, even with a doctors note.  Therefore, we are kind of on the hunt for a good apparatus that allows us to sit or stand.  I'm fine with my boxes, but if we get one for him and it is awesome, I will upgrade...

In sum: I totally recommend standing while working.  I know that it may be more difficult depending on your job, due to factors such as the office environment (will people super make fun of you?) or whether you have a lot of clients in your office (an official raised desk would be fine, boxes like mine are probably too ridiculous).

Any experiences to share about standing at work?  Any discomfort from sitting all day?  

31 comments:

  1. I started standing at work for my old job a few months ago. In fact I had my own stand up desk. Then I changed jobs and went back to sitting. My back has been in extreme pain since, so now I have taken back to standing. Everything you posted on your blog is the same as what I have experienced....in short standing to me is the way to go, with sitting every now and then...we will see what the next couple of months bring

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  2. Pharmacists pretty much all stand at work - probably healthier, but it can lead to its own problems. Part of my groin issues is from standing all day; as I grow fatigued my adductors take on work my core should be doing. Plus 9 hours with NO sitting can't be good either. I bet moving around is the best scenario!

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  3. I actually really like this advice thank you for sharing. I just recently went to a desk job and I think it's been affecting my running a lot. I think I might look into standing more and easing in.

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  4. I am kind of up and down throughout the week. My work is 1/2 office (where I try NOT to sit all the time), 1/2 out in the community (where I am standing in front of groups...not sitting). Driving a lot has it's issues too...lol...my upper back was getting all messed up so I started going to a chiropractor. I guess it's about finding balance and doing what's best for you...and hopefully your work is flexible!

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  5. I just started "walking" while working...on a treadmill for a few hours each day at a whopping 1mph. It definitely makes me feel better and cuts down my sitting. I noticed that even adding a few hours of that crazy speed each days means I'm eating a little more, too.

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  6. I think you are right that standing is the ideal. I am a sitter, but I stay comfortable by having an ~$800 Herman Miller Aeron chair, and by doing about 30 minutes of yoga every day to stretch out those sitting muscles.
    Kristen

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  7. Add a pair of thigh-high compression stockings and I'd say you'd have the perfect set up ;-)

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  8. See, I don't have this problem 'cause I'm a tour guide! I walk at least two - four miles a day depending on how many tours I have (yup, I dress up in colonial garb and talk about the american revolution...). It works well for me because I find running before work is great because I get to walk it out after! Running after work is also agreeable because my legs are excited to do more than walk. Yay! If I ever get a desk job again I'll definitely try the standing desk if possible. Full disclore: I just ran a beer mile so if this was incoherent, I apologize. Yay running/standing/walking!

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  9. I have moderate scoliosis and sitting is absolute agony for me. I rarely go to the movies because after 30 minutes or so I HAVE to get up, walk around for a bit and come back. A desk job would absolutely kill me; when I have to sit for a long time my legs cramp like crazy, sometimes they go completely numb, my sciatica gets worse and I usually end up with a migraine that knocks me out for several days straight. I worry like crazy that I'll have to be employed in some kind of desk job (I cannot imagine how the poor Gentleman gets on - that would be my idea of a living Hell. He must be very dedicated indeed to his career!) so I'm leaving at the end of my PhD programme, presuming I complete it, to train as a Les Mills instructor. I could never teach with all of the sitting hours involved (plus I hate it anyway). People don't 'get' that with scoliosis I can run, but not sit for long periods. They assume that I 'should' be doing as little activity as possible when in reality it's exactly the opposite.

    xxx

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  10. I used to have that creaky, stiif from sitting all day feeling on days that I ran in the morning. Then I found a blog talking about warming up/ coling down properly, and since I've started those routines, no stiffness. I also lost the sciatic pain I would get after sitting for long periods. Glad the standing has worked for you!

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    1. I'd like to know how you warm up/cool down....

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  11. I need to try this. I've been thinking about it for awhile but hearing your review of this makes me think I actually do need to try it.And no one but me will care about the eyesore of boxes in my home office. (and if it works really well maybe i'll buy the "real" thing)

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  12. I think your observations make a lot of sense. I am a graduate student in chemical engineering and my day is composed of some computer work (maybe 35%) and the rest labwork. The labwork requires a lot of moving/walking around, going to other buildings and rooms and fair amount of standing at a benchtop pipetting things over and over. I find that the typical balance between the two is fine, but if I have a day that is heavy at the desk or standing for 8hrs straight, I feel worse for the wear!

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  13. I've been standing at work for about a year and a half now and LOVE it. It took me a good two weeks to get used to being on my feet and I do try to do some inverted yoga poses every night at home (shoulderstand and headstand) because people always tell me I'm going to get varicose veins from standing. And I do think it makes my legs feel fresher in general.

    I also find myself leaning against my desk some and I did get a stool that I will occasionally take a break and sit on.

    Yay for standing up at work!

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    1. Varicose veins? From standing too much? I hope that's an old wives tale....I don't like doing headstands

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    2. you could wear your compression sleeves/socks to avoid them. I notice that when I wear them and stand/walk around a lot, my legs get less tired and sore as well.

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  14. I sit all day at work and have all kinds of hip problems. My PT as well as two different chiros tell me it's because I sit all day. But like you, my work doesn't care enough about me to supply a standing workstation. However your boxes have inspired me. I think I'm going to make my own standing workstation. I have no clients and I don't really care if people make fun of me. Thank you for this!

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  15. I had a rigged standing desk situation at home using plastic file boxes on top of my desk, but since we moved I haven't set it up. Admittedly, we moved 7 weeks ago and only have had our furniture for 10 days, so there's that. I do need to get back to standing more and sitting less, though. I also want to figure out a way to stand more when I'm doing work in my campus office, but that will have to wait until I get the new furniture that is supposed to arrive some time this month.

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  16. I have the same damn butt crease/hamstring problem and instrstingly enough, the issue became more pronounced when I took a "desk" job.
    As you mentioned, I run early in the morning and then have pain every time I get up.
    I have a PC at work, so harder to put it on a box, but I am really going to try standing more!
    This issue is such a pain in the ass to deal with!! (literally!!)

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  17. Sitting all day is the worst!! I felt so much better, was at a healthier weight, and had more energy when I worked at a job where I stood and walked around instead of sitting. Thanks for sharing your experience - it makes me want to get serious about changing my sitting situation at work!

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  18. That is really interesting. I have not given much thought to standing at work. I do have one of those big balls to sit on but mostly I am too lazy and just slouch in my chair :/

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  19. My husband built me a standing desk (from Ikea furniture- I still need to take a picture and send it to lifehacker) for my home office that I don't use very often because I barely work from home anymore. When I do work from home I sit on my couch often because my office is such a mess I can't stand it. FAIL. But I've been slowly cleaning my office and since my workload in Cali has been decreased quite a bit, I'm going to be able to work every other week from home, thus the return to my standing desk. CF guru Kelly Starrett had suggested I do the standing desk thing over a year ago and it did help when I was home using it for a short while. I have a bar stool that I use for the occasional sit, and another swivel chair when I want some more cushion if I get fatigued standing and sitting on the stool.

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  20. Everything I've read out there says that standing is generally better for your body than sitting. I doubt that I can ever convert to a standing style, since I'd likely need a completely new desk to do it.

    I was thinking about what the best job would be in terms of exercise and ergonomics - and I came up with nurse. They walk around most of the day, only rarely look at a computer screen, and have interactions with people most of the day. They also do a lot of forced walking. And the job isn't as dangerous as other jobs where you walk around a lot (farmer, logger, etc). They are also inside a building, so you don't have to worry about getting sunburned, etc.

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    1. Thoughtful observation. However, nurse seems like the worst job if you want to avoid sometimes having to work at 2:00 a.m.

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  21. I wish I could do this, but instead I'm constantly doing the sit-and-stand dance in court. In big ole heels. You keep on keeping on girl.

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  22. Serious question from someone who stands all day - don't your feet ache by the end of the day? Mine do, and it never goes away. Rude feet.

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  23. Oooh! I am so going to attempt this. Again. I tried it a few months ago but didn't follow through. I should give it another shot.

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  24. i don't sit at my job. I always stand...hence my bunions getting OOC. out of control

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  25. I'm late commenting to this post. I came back and re-read this post after going to the chiropractor last night, who told me that the best thing I can do for my back pain is to start standing at work. Can you do another update on how this going?

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