As many of us continue to work from home to combat the spread of COVID-19, we may begin to evaluate our work habits a little more closely -- including the way we sit at our desks. Sitting may seem like a neutral, innocuous activity. But did you know that as you spend hours and hours slumped over a desk, you’re adding pressure to your muscles that can result in neck and back pain?
At Barrington Orthopedic Specialists, we’re interested in discussing potential solutions to poor posture causing neck and back pain due to the traditional desk setup, particularly the “standing desk.” Can installing a standing desk in your home or office really help eliminate these detrimental effects? Let’s discuss further:
How Does Neck Pain Begin?
While there are many potential causes for neck pain, most of them begin in one place: the spine. Your spine was designed to withstand a certain amount of pressure necessary for standing upright, performing physical activity, and going about your daily life. However, undue pressure in this area can put excessive amounts of stress on the muscles, tendons and discs that form your back and neck.
What’s So Bad About Sitting Desks?
A traditional desk setup is designed to keep you in a sitting position throughout your workday. Sitting for long periods of time could cause strain and pressure on the muscles in your back, neck, hips and bottom that result in pain.
Additionally, your desk and chair themselves may not be the only things causing undue strain on your body. If you’re an office worker who spends most of your time looking at a computer, causes of neck pain could be from sitting too low, sitting too high, or from the light setting that is too dim to see effectively. The amount of pressure placed on your neck when sitting at the wrong angle can surprise you: a 45 degree bend in your neck can result in up to 50 pounds of gravitational force being placed on your neck muscles!
How Can a Standing Desk Help?
According to multiple studies, standing desks have been shown to offer a number of benefits for the health of the average office worker, including the alleviation of spinal-based pain. Those who used standing desks during the studies reported an improvement of up to 32% in their lower back and neck pain after using the desk for a period of several weeks. That said, it’s important to note that the desks used in this study were sit-stand desks -- that is, the option to sit was still available, since forcing yourself to stand for hours on end can have detrimental effects on your spine just like sitting. Orthopedic spine specialists such as the team at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists strongly recommend giving yourself both options and recommend a sit to stand desk.
If using a sit-stand desk, be sure it is set up properly. Set your desk and your monitor at an appropriate height for your back and neck to achieve the correct posture. Consider placing a mat under your feet to absorb shock, and be sure to take occasional breaks to change your position just as you would at a sitting desk.
If you’re experiencing neck or back pain, the spine specialists at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists are here to help guide you in the right direction toward living pain-free.
Is back and neck pain affecting the way you work at your desk? Our physicians will work closely with you to determine the source of your pain and help you find relief as quickly and effectively as possible. To schedule an appointment contact our office at (847) 285-4200 or schedule online here.
For urgent needs when our physician’s office is closed, visit our Immediate Orthopedic Care (IOC) in Schaumburg, Illinois.