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Posture At Work


I mentioned a year ago that I hurt my back. I was lucky enough to have health insurance (through my wife) and I received a lot of medical care. I went through various pain medications, physical therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractor treatments that still left me in pain. If you saw me in the first half of 2010, you might have noticed but been too polite to mention anything.

After getting back home in May, I talked to a doctor who told me I would never get better if I sat down all day. Even with various exercises, strengthening and getting up from my chair every 20–30 minutes, the best I could do was eventually level off and be generally free from pain. My back would still be weak and be prone to relapse, even for minor slips.

That wasn’t an option. Hobbling around like a octogenarian wasn’t a great thing. Furthermore, being able to exercise was a top priority for me (I could stand to lose a few (dozen) pounds).

The doctor, knowing what I did for a living, asked me if I would be able to get a standing desk for my office. Given that I was the one in charge of my office, absolutely I could. The ones I saw from stores were thousands of dollars but I bought my simple unit at Ikea for a cool $150. Completely adjustable in four inch intervals, it could be raised to a height that would be comfortable for me to type while standing. Since you can’t really go from sitting all day to standing all day, the doctor recommended I get a hard stool to take breaks on.

About six months later, I can tell you that I’m a believer.

Am I going to be doing 300 pound squats or running a marathon? Nope. But I am happy to get much of my flexibility and my ability to exercise back. Being able to do simple things like picking up things off the ground and putting on shoes and socks with ease are major accomplishments. Being off pain medications is a major thing too.

* * * * *

Of course, my mind started wandering to work and how this would have been handled at a corporate office with standardized desks. I couldn’t imagine going to a workplace that didn’t allow me to stand at my workstation. Similarly, my ability to get a desk wasn’t hampered by process or politics. It also makes me thankful that I’ve often been lucky enough to work in places that cared about our employees posture.

When we talk about overall health and wellness, I wonder how many of us gloss over workplace design? While it has taken me a while to adjust to typing in a standing position, I can only imagine how many countless hours I could have lost to dealing with multiple medical appointments, difficulty in sitting at my desk and pain and what it can do to productivity.

Are you able to switch things up at your office to help your employees?

By Lance Haun

Strategy for The Starr Conspiracy. Former HR pro. Portland guy (Go Blazers!) and WSU alum (Go Cougs!). I get to write about what I want here.

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