With decades of research piling up telling us that sitting all day long is bad for employee health, it's no wonder why the ergonomic standing desk craze is sweeping the business world.
From nurses who stand and walk all day anyway to programmers who traditionally sit still for upwards of 16 hours a day, the ability to stand and work at the same time is truly amazing. Not only does a standing desk reduce your likelihood of heart disease and blood clots, it also helps you to build a better posture, stronger stabilization muscles, and gives you plenty of room to do a little working out at your desk without bothering anyone or running into your chair.
Standing Desks and Physical Limitations
Of course, no matter how useful and healthy a standing desk is, almost no technological innovation works for everyone. People with permanent physical limitations may not be able to support themselves standing for many hours at a stretch and many who seem just fine most of the time have some minor physical irregularity that prevents them from achieving the good posture necessary to enjoy a standing desk. While it's obvious that people in wheelchairs and those with skeletal alignment problems may have trouble with standing desks, what about employees with flat feet?
Do You Have Flat Feet?
Flat feet are something that you can be born with, acquire after an injury, or slowly develop over time. What it means is that your arches, the curved inner part of your foot, is not held in place by the usual band of tendons that connects your heel to the front of your foot. For some, these tendons simply aren't there while others have tendons too loose to hold the arch aloft. To tell if you have flat feet, simply stand barefoot. If you can roll your ankles inward and touch the inner side of your foot to the ground without really trying, your feet are flat.
Flat Feet and Posture
Most people with flat feet get along just fine and no one ever notices the minor deformation because shoes are the norm. However, it does make a serious difference to your posture and how comfortable it is to stand for long periods of time. Flat feet naturally roll inward instead of staying upright so they don't hold the skeleton and muscles in the best possible arrangement for standing. This can lead first to foot pain, then knee and hip pain, and finally intense lower back discomfort if not compensated for. The good news is that modern technology can absolutely fix your posture and your standing stamina
Using a Standing Desk with Flat Feet
So can people with flat feet use a standing desk and enjoy it? Absolutely! Just like any other minor disability caused by a physical difference, the posture problem caused by flat feet can be fixed with innovation, technology, and soft materials. First, you'll need a pair of sturdy shoes with very comfortable and supportive arches. If you can't find the right support shape for your feet, consider getting storebought or prescription orthotic inserts. This will help keep your feet in the right position for good posture.
Next, make sure you never use a standing desk without an anti-fatigue mat. Others may be able to do without but these magical mats somehow turn two to three cm's of foam into hours of standing stamina where the hard floor would have you giving up and grabbing a chair in a matter of minutes.
Finally, practice your posture. If you've had flat feet all your life and aren't used to orthotic inserts, chances are that your posture has matched the inward-turned ankle standing position that is most natural for people with flat feet. Practice standing with your back straight, your shoulders back, and your spine lined up so that your lower back doesn't ache. Posture requires muscles so expect to get tired at first, then grow stronger until you don't even notice that you've been standing comfortably for hours.
Standing desks are an incredible innovation for both the health and energy level of any office and they're extremely convenient for professionals who already work on their feet. Whether you're a floor manager or a web developer, if your office is updating to standing desks and you have flat feet, have no fear. Simply let your manager know that you may need an anti-fatigue mat and a little extra time to adjust.