By Julie Deardorff, Tribune Newspapers
August 8, 2012
• Change positions every 20 or 30 minutes. Even if you don't want to get a standing desk, simply standing up can help. Sitting increases the pressure on the disks in your back, said Dr. Joel Press, medical director of the Spine and Sports Rehabilitation Center at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Movement provides nutrition to the disks by helping move fluids in and out, Press said.
• Start small. Before investing in an expensive standing desk, experiment with a low-cost homemade version. Books, monitor risers, shoe risers or even an ironing board can all work. Ronald Thisted, chairman of the Department of Health Studies at the University of Chicago, initially used stacks of academic journals before taking the plunge and mounting his computer on an adjustable sit-stand desk.
• Expect an adjustment period. You'll likely feel tired, and some things — such as typing or using a highlighter while walking on a treadmill — may be more difficult in the beginning. "The first couple weeks were a little uncomfortable, like when you start a new exercise regimen," said Ben Shive, 37, a mobile software developer in Lansdale, Pa. But Shive now has only one complaint: "I need new pants after losing an inch off my waist."
• Wear comfortable shoes. Also try a chef's mat or a standing desk mat to help with foot fatigue.
• Pay attention to your posture. A computer monitor should be at eye level. Your hands, wrists and forearms should be straight and roughly parallel to the floor. The elbows should be bent approximately 90 degrees. "Keep your body weight evenly spaced between both feet and symmetrically between your big toe, little toe and heel," said physical therapist Melissa Kolski, education program manager for the Rehabilitation Institute. "Make sure to keep your pelvis neutral, such that if it was a bucket of water it wouldn't tip forward or backward." If you need a rest break every once in a while, "try propping your foot on a stool or riser," Kolski said.
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