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Still Standing

Let's revisit the topic of Standing Up at work.

I was recently chatting with fellow lawyer-runner Penny about my standing-up at work situation.  I originally started standing at work at the advice of two separate physical therapists, who attributed the running pain I was/am experiencing in my hip/buttcrease to hamstring tightness and glute weakness, both which could be attributed to my relatively newer habit of sitting all day on the job.  I had been working, and therefore sitting more than ever, for about 8 months when I first noticed the running issues.

I'm going on nearly six months of standing while working now, so I can confidently call myself a BLOG PRETEND EXPERT on the subject, and share what I have learned.

First, it is very tiring in the beginning.  I had to take many sit breaks, and couldn't last longer than 3 hours on my feet.

After several weeks, the standing became more second nature, and I now rarely find myself getting tired from standing.

My current work station sitch.  Count 'em, four boxes.
Second, everyone will want to talk about the eyesore that is your work station, if you create a standing situation with boxes, like I did.  

A lot of people want to know why I am standing, and then they share how they know xx many people who also stand while they work.  

Some people want to share tips on how I can buy a different kind of chair if I am having "back" problems (I....am not having back problems.)  

Some people just make fun of me, and then call me out when they catch me leaning against the desk with my arms for support (I do that regularly).  

And lately, people have remarked upon it because it was in the news in August that sitting for extended periods of time shaves a few years off your life (likely because sitting long hours tends to mean exercising less, eating more, etc.)

Ideally, I will one day get some apparatus that can be raised or lowered, and has two levels -- one for the computer, one for the keypad.  I've been searching, they are in the $300 range.  Despite the eyesore that leads to all these conversations, I'm confident my work does not care about me enough to consider setting me up with the real deal.  So boxes for now, until I find an affordable replacement. 

As you can see from the photo above, my work laptop is nice and high, at eye level, and my keypad is quite low, so my elbows are just barely bent.  I rarely have issues with the ergonomics of this arrangement, only wrist pain if I am really, really typing up a storm for a few hours straight.  

If I want to sit, I go on the other side of my desk, where my work chair and empty desk space is. I can review documents or bring my laptop over.  However, now that I have been standing and really acclimated to it, I find that I...literally...start to fall asleep if I try to work while sitting.  So I relegate sitting only to times when I am wiped from a hard morning run, or am working on something that involves a lot of page flipping.  


Looking down at my work spill mat, which used to be for popping wheelies with my desk chair.  

Third, and probably the most important part, my body feels much better--both throughout the day, at the end of the day...but only maybe a little while running.  I still haven't managed to fix that.

It used to be that if I ran in the morning before work, my legs would creak and crack with stiffness and pain when I got up from my desk after sitting for a long period of time.  Now, my legs are loose and happy all day long.  In fact, now when I sit, my buttcrease pain becomes really pronounced.  I get squirmy and miserable after about 30 minutes of sitting upright (I seem to feel just great sprawled around on a couch :) ).

I also think my hamstring flexibility has improved.

A happy butt makes a happy RoseRunner ;)

Fourth, I focus better at work while standing (see above, I now fall asleep while sitting) because I am more alert, and that hopefully means better work product. Try falling asleep while standing!  It doesn't happen.  I am also less tired at the end of a work day now.  Sitting makes me sleepy, and then I go home and want to sit some more.

Fifth, an issue that probably shouldn't have been as surprising to me as it was, is that I have to (get to) eat more at work.  Standing is clearly burning through more energy than sitting, even though I do often lean against the desk.  I found that I had to bring an extra snack (200-300 calories-ish, like an extra protein bar) to work almost immediately once I started standing.

Sixth, it's true.  I don't wear heels to work anymore. Oh wait...I never wore heels to work.  I will wear them to court, to an event, to an interview, but then they come straight off.  I have a couple pairs of shoes that are "kitten heel" height, and even those, I have to take off more than half the day while working.  My feet smell like roses, don't worry.

My advocacy for standing at work has rubbed off on the Gentleman, who has been trying to get a stand-up situation going at his work as well.  He has seen that I have more energy and feel better at the end of the day.  He has back problems, and a work schedule that sometimes requires 12-13 hours of sitting....ugh...that just cannot make your body happy.

His firm is very large, but he also does not feel comfortable asking for a flexible/stand-up desk, even with a doctors note.  Therefore, we are kind of on the hunt for a good apparatus that allows us to sit or stand.  I'm fine with my boxes, but if we get one for him and it is awesome, I will upgrade...

In sum: I totally recommend standing while working.  I know that it may be more difficult depending on your job, due to factors such as the office environment (will people super make fun of you?) or whether you have a lot of clients in your office (an official raised desk would be fine, boxes like mine are probably too ridiculous).

Any experiences to share about standing at work?  Any discomfort from sitting all day?