Standing Desks: Thinking On, and About, Our Feet

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Standing for work or school may have mental benefits, but standing too long can be hard on your legs and feet.

Standing desks have become popular over the past few years as increasing research indicates that sitting for extended periods can have adverse health effects and that many people think better on their feet.

But are we considering whether standing is good for our feet?

Standing at Attention

In a study of nearly 300 children in second through fourth grades, researchers at Texas A&M found that students who used standing desks were more attentive and accomplished 12 percent greater on-task engagement in classrooms. On-task engagement was measured by instructional-related behaviors, such as raising a hand, answering a question or participating in group discussion, and the results equated to an extra seven minutes per hour.

The benefits of standing desks extend beyond attentiveness. Previous research has shown that school-age children who use standing desks burn 15 percent more calories throughout the day than those who sit at traditional desks.

Stand Down?

Standing desks may have some drawbacks as well. Particularly for those who grew accustomed to sitting most of the day.

A 2013 Washington Post article details how standing too long at a stand-up desk may lead to hyperextension of the knee and overtax the fibular nerve, among other adverse effects. This can lead to pain in the feet, numbness in the toes, and tingling or prickling sensations in the calf muscles. The article further cites studies that show standing for most of the day may lead to an increased risk of hardened arteries and varicose veins.

Take a Stand (At Least Occasionally)

So should we stand up or sit down? Both. The stand-up desk craze was born amid growing research about the dangers of sitting for long durations; sitting for eight hours or more a day, as many people do, has been linked to an increased risk for obesity, cancer and heart problems among other ailments.

If you have the option, consider a convertible desk that elevates for standing and drops for sitting. If you find yourself bound to a traditional desk for most of the day, make sure to at least stand up once an hour or so and stretch out your arms, back and legs; if you can, break up the time you spend seated with brief walks. Wear comfortable, supportive, properly fitting shoes; this is important whether you’re sitting or standing.

If you’re suffering from foot pain, the expert podiatrists and compassionate support team at the Foot & Ankle Center of Northern Colorado are here to help. Please call our Greeley office at 970-351-0900 or our Longmont office at 303-772-3232 to schedule your appointment.

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