These days, most employers are aware of both the existence of sit-to-stand workstations. But just 5 or 6 years ago, this idea was still pretty cutting edge. An Atlas Ergonomics white paper published by KI in 2007 shows how initial research was highly accurate in predicting the benefits of greater mobility at work.
What Are You Doing to Your Back?
The paper outlines some very troubling facts about the effect of prolonged sitting on human anatomy. The spine is designed with bony supports along the back (the surface you can see as your backbone). But it has only cartilaginous discs supporting the internal surface (the side facing your internal organs). When you sit or stand up nice and straight, the weight and pressure of your body are supported by the skeletal structure of your spine. When you slump with a rounded lower back and hunched shoulders, the pressure is transmitted to the discs in your spine instead. Slouching can put more than 90 extra pounds per square inch of pressure on these discs. It’s no wonder back problems are the most common musculoskeletal complaint for office workers!
Poor Posture Is Only a Symptom of the Problem
Why not just learn to sit up straight, like your Momma told you to? According to this whitepaper, this posture is simply unsustainable for long periods. Sitting up straight in an ergonomically adjusted chair may stave off back pain, but it’s only a short delay. Most people start feeling discomfort after about 20 minutes of sitting (although we’ve trained ourselves to ignore this symptom). The fact is that sitting in a prim, upright posture won’t save your back or your health over the long term. There is no correct way to sit for hour after hour at work. Instead, the human body is designed to function optimally with frequent movement. Just a shift from sitting to standing and back again can make a big difference. Check out the full white paper to see stats on the benefits for productivity!