Why Standing Desks Won't Work If Your Posture Is All Wrong

Written by Jonathan FitzGordon

Standing desks are all the rage lately, but they aren't good for you if you don’t stand correctly. This should be a common sense concept, but many people get a standing desk because sitting in their chairs for extended periods leads to back pain. For whatever reason, they don't think that the way they're sitting might lead to their discomfort.

A standing desk might be a good solution, but I would bet dollars to doughnuts that whatever led to pain while sitting will ultimately lead to pain while standing.

The opposite is true as well — standing desks are good if you stand in a way that transfers weight efficiently through your bones so that your muscles don't have to work to hold you up.

Ideally our bones hold us up and the muscles move us. If our bones are well aligned, the muscles don't have to work much for us to be upright. For this to happen successfully, a number of factors need to line up.

First and foremost, the pelvis must be in a neutral position. Our pelvis is like the hub of a wheel, and everything that goes on above and below it is determined by its positioning.

Here are some basic guidelines to ensure you have good posture when you

Below the pelvis:

  • The thigh bones should line up below the hip sockets. The tendency is to allow the thighs to sink forward which puts strain on the thigh muscles and the ligaments of the hip.
  • Your knees shouldn't lock back into hyperextension. The upper and lower leg should be in a direct line with one another. Hyperextension puts a huge strain on the ligaments at the back of the knee.
  • If the shin sits at a right angle to the floor you can bear weight evenly through the whole foot.

Above the pelvis

  • Viewed from the side, the center of the shoulder girdle should line up with the center of the pelvis. If the thighs are leaning forward, it's likely that the upper trunk moves backward to compensate.
  • The unfortunate response to the shoulders and upper back moving behind the hips is that head tends to move forward in response.

Sitting isn't bad for you if you sit well. Standing isn't bad for you if you stand correctly. Standing desks could actually serve you well if you use them to correct misalignments.

If you take your thighs back and unlock your knees, muscles that have never really worked before will spring into action. The upper body will sit more evenly on top of the lower body once that starts happening.

If you're interested in posture and learning more about alignment, check my free e-book, Why Walking Is the Answer For You.

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