We Took On The 30 Day Standing Desk Challenge. Here’s What Happened

Kirsten Curtis |

Men’s Health art director Clinton Jurgens decided to take on the 30-day standing desk challenge. Here’s what it did for his back pain and mobility.

Yes, in the beginning I got funny looks from my fellow colleagues, and the odd chirp was flung around by those seated around me. But through it all I stood strong – excuse the pun. No, actually don’t; I’m proud of my ability to make healthier choices and cheesy wordplay.

It all started a little more than a month ago. I’m a very active person. Yet, somehow over the December holidays I had done something that caused my whole back to lockup. I was in a world of discomfort, having to hold my breath and brace my entire core when performing menial tasks like putting on my pants, tying shoelaces and drinking water from the tap. It was ridiculous. And to top it all off I was suffering from sciatica, and anyone who’s had that will tell you just how much fun it can be (feel free to douse that comment with loads of sarcasm).
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And then as fate would have it, we had just begun pre-production on our next issue of Men’s Health and in it was a feature about protecting and repairing your back. It seems someone was looking out for me – yes, I’m talking about my Editor 😉 – and after reading the article it made me realise that I need to make the choice that is best for me. This applies to every facet of your life, and in this instance it was regarding my body’s wellbeing. So I made the firm decision that this sitting for roughly 6 hours at work would be coming to an end.

The very next week, local company DeskStand sponsored me a standing desk. I got the JUMBO DeskStand, but there are multiple options available on their site. Now all I had to do was follow their 2-week challenge. The challenge is designed to help you ease into the constant standing and build the required strength.

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So I begun, only needing to complete 1 hour for the first two days, then 2 hours for the following two days, etc. I must say that it is tougher than you’d think. Your feet and lower back get fatigued quite quickly, so you definitely need to take little breaks. FYI – a physio told me that the best thing to do is to plant your feet shoulder-width apart and keep neutral. He even recommended sticking a post-it on my computer screen instructing me to STAY NEUTRAL! as the worst thing you can do is to keep shifting your weight and end up standing in all funny positions to compensate for your fatiguing body.

The days passed and I could feel my body adapting and getting stronger, little by little up until the point where I was standing for a good 4-5 hours a day. Yes, I still get tired, but then I take that little break and just rest – it actually makes for quite a nice breather between all the work. I would recommend getting the anti-fatigue mat as it will help make the change more comfortable for many.

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So, my 30 days of standing are over and I have decided to convert for good. I will not be going back to being a permanent sitter, not when I know the harm it is causing. And I’m experiencing the benefits first-hand as my life has visibly improved outside of the office. At the start of my daily training session I always stretch and warm-up. And towards the end of the challenge I was noticing how much quicker my body was loosening up, often starting with a better range of motion. Its a fact that most men suffer with hip mobility, and I’m no different, so the fact that these stiff hips of mine are finally getting looser, and moving better, is awesome. Who knows, I might actually be able to do those middle splits someday!

READ MORE ON: back pain

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