Are standing desks good for runners? - Women's Running UK

Could a standing desk make you a better runner?

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  November 2, 2021

While the verdict is still out on whether a standing desk is better than a normal one, experts say that for runners, switching to standing is a great option

Many of us will have heard the phrase, ‘sitting is the new smoking’ – which is even more alarming after the past 18 months, when we’ve been spending quite a lot of time sat down. Studies are finding that long periods of sitting to be linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and even shortened life expectancy. So, it comes as no surprise that sales of standing desks are on the up, especially home office options as some of us adapt to a more flexible working style.

But does that actually work? The verdict is still out.  According to a study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in March 2016, which analysed 20 studies on the subject, there is, in fact, little evidence to suggest that standing desks can positively impact overall health. Studies that had previously found participants standing for a longer period of time during the working day, as a result of the standing desks, were revealed to not only be flawed in design, but also consist of too few participants to draw any definite conclusions. They also found that the participants tested were standing for only two more hours a day, which would have very little impact on reversing the effects of a mostly sedentary lifestyle.

However, while there is little concrete evidence at present to suggest any health benefits for the general population, the standing desk serves its own purpose, for runners. By reducing time sitting, runners can look to reduce muscle tightness and improve strength and posture, too. “Twelve hours of sitting per day causes one major problem for runners: tight muscles in your hip flexors,” says rehab therapist Robert Griffiths.

Tight hip flexors are a common problem for runners, and not only restrict stride length, but reduce the efficiency and strength of the glutes – leading to the dreaded ‘lazy glutes’ and a whole host of lower-limb related running injuries. Tight hip flexors can also cause back injury in some runners. “The reduced range of motion in the hip causes a huge amount of force to be transferred through your skeletal system, causing pinching in the lower back joints,” explains Griffiths.

Engaging your core and leg muscles throughout the day will not only save your back, but your strength too. It might not sound hard work, but long periods of standing will certainly help you to maintain your hard-earned muscular endurance in the legs and core, which can become compromised by long periods of inactivity.

And if you want to improve your posture – and form – standing is a good place to start. Good running form is built on a good posture alignment, which all begins with your stance. “When you are standing you engage the core and take the pressure off your lower back,” says Amy Yoder Begley, Coach at Atlanta Track Club and 2008 Olympian. “That keeps your body in alignment throughout the day which translates to better alignment when you’re running.”

And finally, when you’re standing, you’re guaranteed to feel a whole lot more energised too, giving you that all-important boost to smash your post-work run!

Sold yet? We are. But if you want to take the plunge, you’ve got to do it carefully. Build up gradually, alternating between standing and sitting at first so your form isn’t compromised due to fatigue. And, just as with your running, think about standing tall and proud, keeping your posture as aligned as possible, to prevent injury from any muscular imbalances.

Keen to take a stand? Try Varidesk – they offer a range of high-quality, adjustable standing desks with dual-monitor set ups. Check out the range at vari.com

Women's Running Magazine

NMA’s 2020 Lifestyle Magazine of the Year, Women’s Running provides expert advice on gear and training, motivation from your favourite runners and the latest running news.

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