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Q: I’ve seen news reports that say standing at a desk for long stretches can be a health hazard if you don’t build up to it gradually. Do I need to train to use my standing desk, like for a marathon? – Michael M., Graphic Designer

A: In light of recent warnings by the media on the risks of using standing desks for prolonged periods, I’d like to provide my perspective, which is based on years of experience and observation in ergonomics research.

The sad fact is that employees have traditionally had to stand — or sit — for prolonged periods, with no training in proper body mechanics. Early in my own career, I worked in the publishing industry as a photographer, production artist, technical illustrator, and so on. In those roles, I spent a lot of time on my feet. While stools were available, it turned out that sitting didn’t give me the mobility I needed to run back and forth between tasks.

No one suggested I get training on how to work standing up. In fact, now that I think about it, I wasn’t given training on standing before becoming a waitress, factory worker, or amusement park mascot either – and I spent most of one pregnancy hoofing it as a department store clerk. I didn’t suffer from all that standing, but I would certainly have benefited from training, during an employee safety orientation, say.

In contrast, when I had jobs that kept me sedentary, I was miserable with back pain. It was so bad for so long that I considered applying for disability if I couldn’t stay at my job. Can you guess if anyone trained me on the safe way to sit? Afraid not. I had to find the answers on my own, a process that led me into a career as a researcher in human factors and ergonomics.

As a responsible desk manufacturer, Ergotron is at the forefront of scientific research on workplace wellness. In future blog posts we will detail our guidelines for establishing a work routine that helps mitigate the risks of either sitting or standing for long periods.


Disclaimer: Ergotron devices are not intended to cure, treat, mitigate or prevent any disease.

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