Can a standing desk reduce my back pain?

Sitting too much can cause a number of health-related problems. These include increased risk for heart disease, diabetes and blood clots.  In addition, low back and neck pain can occur when you sit for long periods of time. Most jobs today involve a significant amount of time sitting, and poor posture when you sit can lead to back pain. Sitting in a slouched position increases the pressure in the lower back, in particular the discs. Often times, there are preexisting problems in the lower back, and poor posture will exacerbate the issue. 

Standing desks have become very popular over the past few years, and there are numerous potential health benefits associated with standing versus sitting. Some studies have shown that you burn slightly more calories when standing versus sitting, which can add up over time. In addition, some people find themselves more productive when standing periodically throughout the day. But can incorporating a standing desk into your day reduce low back pain? 

Before making the purchase for a stand-up desk, consider these three steps first:

  1. Work on your sitting posture.  Try to sit in a neutral position with your lower back straight and your shoulders pulled back.  Improving your sitting posture alone may be enough to reduce low back pain.
  2. Add lumbar support. Place a small pillow or cushion behind your lower back. This can help keep your back in a better position when sitting, or serve as a reminder to focus on your posture.
  3. Stand up more frequently.  If your job allows, try to stand every 30 minutes or so. Even better, take a short walk when you can.  If this is not possible, be sure to focus on your posture when sitting.
  4. Set up your own stand up desk.  Before purchasing an expensive stand up desk, if possible, elevate your computer or laptop on a box or stack of books.  Try this periodically for a few days or a week before spending all that money. When trying this, start gradually.  If you go from sitting all day to standing all day right away, there is a chance your back pain may initially get worse.

If none of these suggestions help, it may be beneficial to see a Rothman Orthopaedics spine specialists for a thorough evaluation. 

Dr. John Koerner is an orthopaedic spine surgeon at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, and currently sees patients in Bergen County. For more information or to make an appointment, please visit or call 888-636-7840.


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