Treadmill desks, your pelvic floor, and you!

Treadmill desks? …cuz sitting is the new smoking, remember?

Seriously? Sitting’s not bad, per se. Sitting a lot is bad. Sitting a lot for a long time is worse. But it’s really the ‘not changing positions often enough’ that’s the problem.

In our attempt to make a bad situation better, we’ve reintroduced ourselves to standing. Yes, in the various ‘work from home’ communities (bloggers, writers, consultants, facebook trolls, etc.), there’s been a lot of good talk about standup desks, standup workstations, and even fancy desks that go from sit-to-stand with the flick of a switch. These options do a great job of getting us out of the dreaded sitting position. 

Some people are taking this standing up trend to the next level; walking. …while working! Sitting is bad, standing is good, and walking is better? Then walking while working must be best?


Enter the treadmill desk!

I’ve talked about the dangers of treadmills before, but to reiterate, walking on a treadmill is not walking, it’s falling under control, leading to faulty movement patterns, lack of rear foot pushoff, and a ‘turning off’ of your glutes!

treadmill 812863_90858969 compressed

None of this is good news, but the worst news is what it can lead to!

I’ve talked about this quite a bit with my Restorative Exercise™ mentor, Katy Bowman, as I’m always trying to learn more about these issues. I’m convinced, but if you’d like more you can listen to Katy on the Balance Bites Podcast, or just read the transcript at the same link (hint, search for ‘treadmill desk’).


“It’s like, warning, this treadmill has a side effect of decrease in pelvic floor strength.” – Katy Bowman


Exercise isn’t just about burning calories, and that’s about all the treadmill does effectively. If you’re in it for your health, choose movements that do more good than harm.

Yes, it’s really hard to work on a computer while you walk, and using a treadmill desk makes it possible, but not particularly safe, especially if you have existing ‘issues.’ …and don’t we all?

“What does it mean to have a weak pelvic floor?” one could ask.

To which one might answer “There could be erectile dysfunction, loss of bladder control, pelvic floor prolapse, inability to control your farts, loss of sensation ‘down there,’ and…”



“You had me at erectile dysfunction!”

I know, right!

Are you seriously going to taunt your pelvic floor?


If you work in front of a computer…

…here’s what I would do. It’s actually what I do do, so…

  • Single Calf Stretch

    Single Calf Stretch

    Have a computer setup that allows you to sit OR stand.

  • Use both sitting and standing positions throughout the day.
  • Sit, stand, go back and forth.
  • Use different chairs and positions throughout the day.
  • The standup desk can also be used with a stool. The sitdown desk can also be used with a stability ball or Swiss ball. My mom has a chair and a kneeling chair. Use different things for different positions.
  • Yes, an ergonomic chair might be better than a crappy chair, but if it allows you to sit in the same position all day, is that really better?
  • Sit on the floor more.
  • Put the laptop on a coffee table or a stack of books. Lie on the floor. Whatever. Multiple positions.
  • Get up every 30 minutes or so, even if just for a minute or two.
  • Get out and walk. Not treadmill walk, either. Walk walk, you know, walk?

  • Walk to lunch, walk to the store to get lunch. Whatever. Break up the day. Phone calls? Do them walking.

  • Do exercises and movements designed to counteract the damage done by any repetitive movement or lack thereof. I do plenty of calf stretch, double calf stretch, top-of-the-foot stretch, and sole rolling on a tennis ball throughout the day.
  • …and walk.


Working on a computer is hard on the body, isn’t it?

Just remember, it’s not sitting that hurting you, it’s staying in one position that’s the issue. If you stand up all day, it’s not much better than sitting all day, and relying on a treadmill desk might be the worst option of all.




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2 thoughts on “Treadmill desks, your pelvic floor, and you!

  1. Alison

    It is so interesting how our culture is geared to keep building on things until they don’t work anymore. Some is good, more is better, let’s do it until we break! Thanks for such a clear explanation!


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