The jury is out on which is better. Standing all day is no better than sitting. This is because, by standing all day, a variety of new risk factors are introduced such as increasing compression through the spine which can lead to low back pain. It may also increase the risk of developing varicose veins and other cardiovascular problems as the body has to work against gravity to return blood flow back to the heart.

What experts do agree on is that the body was designed primarily for movement, so sitting or standing statically for extended periods is counterproductive.  Therefore, a combination of alternating between sitting and standing is most likely to be the healthiest option. So instead of forking out thousands of dollars on a sit-stand desk, try the obvious solution first –stand up and move as often as possible at work.

The term ‘ergonomics’ is derived from the Greek language and translates as ‘how to work according to nature’. Put simply, it is the interaction between a person and their environment.

In Australia, 45% of all employed adults work in a sedentary job where they spend most of their time sitting. Prolonged periods of sitting not only increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity, but may result in the development of numerous musculoskeletal disorders and discomfort. Ergonomic adjustment to the workplace environment may increase comfort and productivity, and decrease the risk of chronic injury and disease.

Some basic tips to improve desk ergonomics include:

  • Feet flat on the ground
  • Knees and hips at 90 degrees
  • Hips slightly above knee height
  • Hips positioned in the back of the chair
  • Backrest slightly reclined to 10-20 degrees from vertical
  • Forearms approximately level with the desk, keyboard and mouse within close distance of each other
  • Computer screen is at arms length from the head, with eye line falling within the upper 1/3 of the screen
  • Sit up tall, chest out, shoulders back and remain upright.


Image sourced from:


Is there anything else I can do to assist my workplace health?

Yes there is. Movement is the key to rejuvenating the neurological system by activating fatigued and ineffective muscles, and allowing fluid movement to keep the spine healthy. Workers should be moving every 25-30 minutes. Get a drink of water at the water fountain, take the stairs instead of the lift or speak to a colleague face to face instead of using email!

Simple stretches can also be completed to assist with pain prevention. These are a few examples of stretches that can be completed whilst sitting:



Image sourced from:

For more information, contact one of our Osteopaths here.

About the author:

Lachlan White is a registered Osteopath. He has an interest in treating patients with acute and chronic pain conditions, including headaches, neck and back pain and assisting in the management of chronic and degenerative disease.



Australia Bureau of Statistics. (2011). 4835.0.55.001 – Physical Activity in Australia: A Snapshot, 2007-08. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Mar. 2018].

Chu, A., Ng, S., Tan, C., Win, A., Koh, D. and Müller-Riemenschneider, F. (2016). A systematic review and meta-analysis of workplace intervention strategies to reduce sedentary time in white-collar workers. Obesity Reviews, [online] 17(5), pp.467-481. Available at: [Accessed 20 Mar. 2018].