How a Standing Desk Can Help with Your Plantar Fasciitis Pain

June 17, 2019

Plantar fasciitis pain
Nisha Cooch PhD PMP

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common reasons people experience heel pain, and it leads to over one million doctor’s visits each year in the U.S. Unfortunately, the condition is not that well understood and so most treatment routes end up falling short. Luckily, a new, simple, non-invasive strategy may be a promising option for ridding patients of their pain. This approach requires no medication, no surgery, and no costly equipment or therapy. Instead, it simply requires that people use a standing desk.

Current Treatment Options Aren’t Guaranteed to be Safe or Effective

Some of the conventional treatments for plantar fasciitis are invasive, risky, and associated with other medical complications. These treatments include injections and operations.

Research has shown that the majority of orthopedic surgeons prefer simple strategies like stretching over the use of injections when dealing with this condition. They even prefer non-medical interventions over less invasive treatment options such as anti-inflammatory medicines.

For those patients who want to pursue non-invasive solutions for their plantar fasciitis pain, choosing an option can be frustrating because of conflicting evidence on how effective different solutions may be. For instance, orthotics, or night splints, have been shown to offer no unique benefits to these patients. Instead, engaging the foot through stretches appears more effective. From a convenience and cost perspective, stretching is certainly the superior option.

The Promise of the Standing Desk

Recently, patients with plantar fasciitis have begun reporting improvements in symptoms with the use of a standing desk. There are several reasons that this approach could help these patients, and the key to understanding these reasons is understanding the risk factors that place people at a higher likelihood of suffering from the condition.

One risk factor is obesity. Standing desks have been shown to diminish sedentary behavior in obese individuals and so could help lower pain by helping people to lose weight and thereby reduce the weight they put on their lower extremities. Tight calf muscles represent another risk factor, and standing rather than sitting may improve people’s ability to stretch calf muscles and prevent the muscles from getting tight.

In addition to intrinsic risk factors like obesity and tight calf muscles, risk is also enhanced by certain behaviors, including running and sudden increases in exercise intensity. According to medical experts, low-impact activities are beneficial to those with the condition because cardiovascular fitness is important, but high-impact activities like running can be detrimental for these patients. Standing can also help with the gradual shift toward better physical fitness and stamina, especially for those patients who are not already in shape.

How You Should Use the Standing Desk

People who choose to use a standing desk should be aware of the best ways to use this type of desk to promote health. When it comes to plantar fasciitis, walking barefoot is another known risk factor, so wearing shoes while standing is likely better than standing barefoot. Research has also shown that standing should be alternated with sitting, with a sit to stand ratio between 1:1 and 2:1, which means sitting at least as much of the time as you stand.

Will Using a Standing Desk Disrupt My Work?

Many people worry that they will not be as effective in their work if they are standing instead of sitting. However, research on the impact of standing desks on task performance has shown that people are in fact more engaged in their tasks when standing than they are when sitting. For instance, when standing, people show more interest, enthusiasm, and alertness than when sitting. Employing a standing desk may therefore be a good strategy for improving plantar fasciitis pain without jeopardizing other aspects of your daily life.

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