Standing Desk Exercise Rx
Work Station Transition Training
As a physical therapist making his living taking care of people with pain problems and physical limitations caused by prolonged sitting, I am an avid promoter of standing desks. Over the last five years, the prices of standing desk products have come down and the variety has increased. Manufacturers now permit a 30 day “no risk” trial. Try a standing desk for thirty days and then ship it back if it does not meet your needs. I encourage anyone who must sit for more than five hours a day to convert some of those sitting hours to a stand up desk. Employers are now aware of the benefit of standing desks and actively encouraging their use. It can take some time to become accustomed to working at a standing desk. I have three training tools that can help make working at a standing desk easier. Read this article and watch the video for a demonstration of how to use each product.
Foot Care With a Spiky Ball
The bottom of the foot is a busy intersection of muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves. Heel and plantar pain are common reasons we see patients in the physical therapy clinic. Foot pain problems can take months to fully recover. A little proactive soft tissue treatment will bulletproof the feet from overuse injury and pain. A spiky ball is a small sphere with fairly aggressive projections. Take off your shoes and give your peds a little love by rolling the bottom of your foot over a spiky ball. Spiky balls come in various sizes and resistances. I have found the smaller (2 ½ – 3 inch) and firmer models work the best for my foot. Most people report that it “hurts good” and often get one for work and one for the home office. Most spiky balls cost around seven dollars.
Posture Correction With Resistance Bands
If you have been a long-term seated data input warrior, you have probably been infected with the i-hunch virus. As we get older, the muscles that hold the thoracic region tall and pull the shoulder blades back tend to get weaker at a faster rate than other muscles. Prolonged standing is going to be challenging without some remedial rebooting of the software that holds you tight and tall. I keep a ¼ inch superband (nine dollars from performbetter.com) at my desk and perform two upper body postural strengthening exercises. Posture restoration takes some time so work on these drills every day for at least three months.
Band Pull Aparts
Choose a resistance band that allows you to perform a complete set without reaching failure. The force produced by the band becomes greater as you travel through the movement so avoid a band with a strong resistance. The tempo of the movement should stay smooth and steady.
Stand tall with the chest proud and the head pulled back. Do not arch the upper back. Tighten the abdominal muscle and keep the front of the rib cage down. Hold the elbows fully extended and the wrist in neutral. You can use either a palms up or a palms down arm position. Individuals with some shoulder wear and tear may feel better with a palms up position. Hold the arms up to 85 degree shoulder flexion and start with a low level of tension on the band. Concentrate your efforts on the muscles between your shoulder blades as you pull the band apart and bring the hands out to the side. Let the band stretch across the chest and pull the hands behind the body. Tempo: Two counts- pull the band apart. Two counts- hold at end range. Two counts- return to the starting position. Repetitions: 10 – 20 repetitions.
Postural Band Aid
One of the most convenient and easy to perform postural correction activities is an exercise I call the postural band aid. Take a short length of therapy resistance band and stand up. Assume a tall posture with a proud chest and the head pulled back. Hold one side of the band in each hand with the palms up. Keep the elbows by the side and bent to 90 degrees. Pull the band apart so that your arms form a letter W with your arms and body. You should feel a tightening of the muscle between your shoulder blades. Hold the band apart for three counts and then slowly release back to the starting position. Perform ten repetitions.
Dynamic Core Stability With Dynamax Medicine Ball
Physical therapy patients and fitness clients often complain of lower back fatigue when using a standing desk. Solve this problem with some dynamic stabilization training. Place a Dynamax medicine ball or an under inflated basketball under the desk and take turns elevating one leg up onto the ball. The round ball creates a degree of instability that kicks in the stabilizers of the pelvic girdle and lower back. Changing position and relieving stress on the joints in the pelvic girdle and lumbar spine can help abolish symptoms of fatigue. It is one of the reasons your local saloon has a place to rest your foot when you belly up to the bar. The majority of standing desk users report an improvement in symptoms using this simple alteration in stance.
Watch the video here
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS