Getting a stand-up desk? Standing all day can bring problems, too

Staying on your feet all day can bring varicose veins, aching legs

growing body of research linking desk jobs to an increased risk of death has brought standing desks into the mainstream. But when the Washington Post's Sydney Trent began using the popular desk, she quickly found that standing all days brings its own health problems.

Get out of that chair! Sitting three hours a day can shorten lifespan

After several weeks of using a standing desk, she discovered the best ways to stand all day: going barefoot, adding a gel mat, and implementing sitting breaks.

Nonetheless, Trent began to "feel a fleeting numbness" in her toes and lower calves. After meeting with her doctor and ruling out a number of possibilities, he concluded that she was standing too much.

"Those uncomfortable sensations were probably a result of hyperextending my knee, which could put too much pressure on the fibular nerve, a branch of the sciatic nerve, which starts behind the knee and runs alongside the fibula, or calf bone," Trent writes, adding that "[i]ronically, this can also occur when you cross your legs a lot while sitting."

Trent discovered that a handful of recent studies suggested that prolonged standing brought health problems. In a 2005 study based in Denmark, standing for 75% of the workday was shown to increase the risk of hospitalization for varicose veins. Meanwhile, a 2000 study found that standing all day can increase the risk of hardening arteries as well.

Treadmill desks—good for your health, but bad for your work?

In the end, Trent recommends listening to one's body: Stand up when feeling lethargic and sit if legs begin to ache. "[C]heck your posture constantly and move around, whether you sit or stand at work, because standing all day can be as bad as prolonged sitting," she concludes (Trent, Washington Post, 11/25).

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