My 21 year old healthy yoga practicing daughter has been working in an office for the past six months. Recently, she’s been experiencing intense neck and shoulder pain that drove her to seek weekly trips to an acupuncturist.
According to a recent article in Oprah’s “O” Magazine, my daughter’s neck and shoulder inflammation is a very common and ever growing injury. The article’s research states “as many as 63 percent of all office workers will suffer from neck pain within the year. Women are at particular risk.” This is alarming. But it can be prevented. The cure lies in thoughtful design.
As an interior designer
As an interior designer, I focus on “humane design.” I only use cruelty free materials and products, which means none of the selections I make for clients are made with animal skins or parts and they are primarily sustainable. Along with that philosophy, I also focus on design therapy freaky vegas.
I create optimal environments with the use of specific textures, colors, materials and scents. I incorporate this method for all my clients’ spaces including their homes and offices, large and small.
So, for me it’s not just about creating a beautiful space, it’s about creating a humane space that benefits the client mentally and physically, which leads me back to the hunch and inflammation.
Neck and shoulder injuries
The epidemic of work related neck and shoulder injuries is an ever growing challenge as we attempt to maintain good health while sitting at a desk for endless hours. This topic has even been the source of many scenarios in sitcoms and movies.
In the film, “Being John Malkovich,” John Cusack’s character worked in an office space between floors with 5 feet high ceilings which forced him to sit hunched over a desk to avoid hitting his head and hurting his neck.
The irony is that it may be more damaging long term to sit hunched over a desk for eight to ten hours a day, then to take one knock to the head.
Our minds and bodies are at their peak when we actively use them. Think of one’s body as a car. It’s much more efficient to keep everything in motion than to stop and start at an inconsistent rate, which is why our cars get better mileage on the highway than in the city.
According to Medicaldaily.com, “…scientists are beginning to realize that office desks are bad for your health. While it may take some time for companies to catch onto this, it’s better for you to take action now on your own before the damage is done.”
Newly designed offices and workspaces
Newly designed offices are now active, standing workspaces; Our bodies should be continually moving in order to maintain alertness and be productive. Active, standing workspaces and desks allow us to stand and lean. Many designs even allow us to crouch and lie. Some even have a treadmill attached to the standing workspace.
Today’s most successful companies including Google and Twitter are designed with active standing workspaces.
According to a government study (did I just see a yawn?), the benefits range far and wide.
* Less fatigue
* Less confusion
* Reduced depression
* More vigor
* General overall happiness
* Heartrate increase over 8BPM (beats per minute)
* Increases HDL (good cholesterol) while lowering LDL (bad cholesterol)
* Weight loss
* Glucose reduction
* Better posture, less stress on joints and muscles
Adding a balance board in combination with an active standing workspace enhances and increases your motion to levels comparable to walking. The balance board can increase heart rate an additional 12BPM.
We are more health conscious and aware than ever before. The future of office design worldwide will be built around active standing workspaces. The traditional desk and chair will considered office design of the past.
If your office has yet to implement standing workspaces, it’s an easy fix. There are standing desk additions that cost no more than $100.00 They simply sit on top of your existing desk or table to increase the height. Add a balance board to wobble on and you’ve arrived to the 21st century.