A Northern Virginia Chiropractor Talks About Standing at Work
Recently, I interviewed Dr. Andy Stynchula, a chiropractor and owner of Stynchula Wellness and Sports Rehab Center in Fairfax, Virginia. He says sedentary behavior is so prevalent, but we need to think about what is happening with the back when sitting.
EO: What brings most people to schedule an appointment with a chiropractor?
AS: Unfortunately, I see a lot of people who wait for a condition to become very serious before they finally make an appointment. My clients primarily complain about three areas: 1) neck, shoulder and arm; 2) lower back and pelvic; and 3) headaches.
In the center, we have a physical therapy component, to encourage my patients to follow through, and ultimately, we want them following a recovery program at home, with a trainer or a gym. I get them from not moving to moving more comfortably; I’m transitioning them. Initially, I supervise their workouts.
EO: When did you first learn about standing desks?
AS: About 25 years ago, I worked in office furniture sales and office ergonomics. Back then the standing desk was not a reality. Adjustable height workstations were a pain to operate and most people didn’t want to mess with them.
EO: Ergonomically, what would you recommend to office workers today, in terms of sitting and standing at work?
AS: When you are sitting on your desk chair, try to bring your head and arms back, and open up your shoulders. Sit forward on your chair, and squeeze between shoulder blades, putting a curve in the back. The wrong ways to sit at work are to sit forward and reach, or recline and put feet up.
As for standing at a standing desk, try resting one foot, which takes the tension off the back and pelvis. Putting one leg up will prevent the hamstrings from becoming too tight. Try to keep your back in its proper position, and then work the rest of the body around it.
EO: I’ve heard some people say they won’t stand at work because of knee pain, such as a friend of mine who is an umpire for high school baseball games during the baseball season. How can we get this type of person to try standing at work?
AS: When you consider the bulk of knee problems, they are about tracking. This means things that don’t mesh when you move the knees. A knee is like a hinge. The pain may be caused by tightness, weakness, ligament or soft tissue injury. Ultimately that causes friction, wearing out the knee.
However, if the knee is swollen, we have to wait until swelling shrinks. To treat swelling you can use ice, or I use a cold laser, which is a certain frequency of light. The light affects mitochondria and elements in cells to speed up repair. If you choose to treat with cold laser, you would expect 6-8 treatments over a month, at 5 minutes per treatment. You can use it on any condition that involves swelling, or arthritis.
EO: What about high heels? Many of my friends wear high heels to work, and think that hinders their ability to use a standing desk.
AS: Let’s consider people who stand with heels, versus no heels: what is different. In heels, you are causing a tilt in the pelvis. The first muscles affected are the hip flexor muscles. The calf muscles are altered. The hip muscles are jammed up and when you get up from sitting, the hip muscles lengthen. Wearing heels alters pelvic muscles, the latissimus to shoulder, which are the longer muscles are adjusting to all of these affected muscles. Someone should be athletic to walk in high heels. Most people in high heels walk like a duck with their feet out. Walking heel-toe is better, but heel-toe breaks down in high heels.
Ultimately, for health of body, I recommend no high heels. I realize that making that a reality is hard.
EO: What percentage of patients do you think the Chiropractic community could sway to stand at work?
AS: Based on my practice, I think that 50-60 percent of my patients would be willing to stand at work, part of the time. If you want some motivation to stand more often, remember that when you sit down, you’re taking a lot of core strength exercise away, and you’re putting your nervous system to sleep.