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Neck Pain and Workstation Options

Neck pain is commonly associated with sitting in front of a computer for
prolonged periods of time. So is there a “best” or “ideal” type of desk to use
when working at a computer all day?

The sit-stand desk has gained significant popularity in recent years, especially
with an 83% increase in sedentary jobs since the 1950s. In a 2018 study,
researchers compared the effect of using a sitting and standing desk for 90
minutes among 20 healthy adults. Researchers monitored typing task
performance and discomfort, vascular/blood flow, and muscular changes in the
neck, shoulders, and arms and found that standing desk use resulted in greater
engagement of the shoulder girdle stabilizing muscles (a good thing), less strain
on the lower trapezius muscles, less upper body pain, and better typing
performance. The authors of the study recommend further studies to identify
how standing affects more complex computer tasks over longer work sessions in
symptomatic workers.

Another type of desk that is available is a treadmill desk. In one study,
researchers found that treadmill desk use resulted in less upper limb pain when
compared with seated desk use, as well as healthier muscle performance from
the low back paraspinal muscles, wrist extensor muscles, external abdominal
obliques, lower trapezius, and anterior deltoids.

What about the trend of having a small cycling device under the desk? In a 2019
study, researchers observed that participants performed better on typing tasks
when cycling, especially at greater intensity.

Doctors of chiropractic are frequently asked about sit/stand desk options, with or
without lower limb exercising. A common answer is to mix it up, sit or stand as
needed, and vary the level of under-the-desk exercise depending on how you
feel. These studies support that standing, walking, and/or cycling may be a
healthier option than the traditional sit-only, sedentary desk.

Austin McMillin, D.C.
ProActive Spine Care
1033 Regents Blvd #204
Fircrest, WA 98466
(253) 564-1288
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