Lower back pain is an undesired consequence of the activities that our patients partake in on a daily basis. Without appropriate intervention and adequate rest, these repetitive stressors can lead to injury.
Desk jockeys are filling chiropractic offices with complaints triggered by cumulative stressors, compounded by inactivity. Prolonged seated postures and general deconditioning lead to overloaded spinal ligaments, muscles, and discs.
Altering seat and keyboard height, as well as monitor elevation & distance are all critical variables for those who spend their day sitting. But more recently, increasing numbers of workstation users are transitioning to standing desks; and standing in one spot for an extended period is not without its own set of risks.
What advice should an evidence-based chiropractor give to patients concerning their standing workstation?
Do you know why taverns have foot rails around their bars? The foot rails originated during a time when stools were not common, and patrons would stand, i.e. ‘belly up to’ the bar. The rail was intended to give patrons the ability to alternate legs, giving one a rest while providing a little flexion for those stenotic cowboy spines.
A new study examined the impact of standing workstations on LBP. (1) The authors concluded that one variable, footrest height, had a significant contribution to muscle fatigue and lower back pain. Their recommendation:
“The results suggest that a footrest height of 10% of the body height can be recommended as a normalized height for prolonged standing work in subjects with a history of non-specific lower back pain during prolonged standing.”
The take away from this is to incorporate a foot rest with your standing workstation. You can't argue with the evidence!
1. Son JI, et al. Effects of footrest heights on muscle fatigue, kinematics, and kinetics during prolonged standing work. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2017.
Reprinted with permission from ChiroUp
Cliff Atwell, B.S., D.C.