Monday, September 14, 2009

Lab stance

Despite the presence of ample stools and the constant nagging by my old boss that I need to sit down, I still choose to stand-up at the bench. I know I'll pay for it in the future with lovely spider veins, but I just can't seem to keep my butt in a chair.
I've tried to force myself to sit down in the past, but I find it inconvenient. Just when I get situated, I need to get up and get a solution from the other end of my bench, or get a reagent or enzyme from the fridge or freezer. By the time I get back to my bench I forget to sit back down and end up standing again. Whenever I do get the opportunity to stay in one place for a prolonged period of time, for example when I'm setting up a trillion reactions or maybe colony PCRs, I find myself only remembering that sitting was an option as I'm finishing my task.
What seems odd to me is that, at least in my experience, standing all day is not the norm. The vast majority of my lab mates sit at the bench. I don't know if they are better organized and don't need to get up several times a day, or if they are just more tolerant of getting up and down.
The reason I bring this up is because my knees are starting to feel sore in the evening. Part of this is due to the fact that I am running longer distances. If I want to keep running, which I do, I think I need to compensate by utilizing my stool.
So far, it's not going to well. A co-worker apologized to me today for taking my stool and keeping it for over a week. I did not even know it was even gone.

8 comments:

Thomas Joseph said...

1. What type of running shoes are you using? Do you use them only for running? If you answered no to the second question, go out and get yourself a new pair of dedicated running shoes. I'd suggest Asics, New Balance, or Brooks. I'm a big fan of New Balance.

2. Do you have a stool or one of those huge monstrosities which gets in the way of everything, takes a ladder to get into, then sinks about three feet once you put your weight on it, your feet still don't touch the floor, it swivels like it was greased everyday for five years with WD-40, and the back of the chair extends over your head? I prefer just a plain old stool and I would literally push myself around in it rather than constantly getting up to get something. It was a nice setup.

Of course, none of this will matter once you get out of your post-doc. You'll be too busy flying a desk to stand at the bench most of the time.

Ambivalent Academic said...

I'm with you - I never sit at the bench. In part because I'm short and the bench is at an inconvenient height for me. The stools match, but I have to stand up to reach anything stowed in the cabinets above or even things at the back of my bench.

Your knees will likely adapt - but TJ is right on the money about having a dedicated pair of runners that are used for nothing else. I wear my retired running shoes to the lab and only run in the new ones. You could also think about getting on of those cushy mats to put on the floor in front of your bench - I think that they use them in restaurant kitchens. I know a tech from another lab who has one of these because he also works on his feet and wears nothing but cowboy boots to the lab. He swears by it.

EcoGeoFemme said...

I too stand most of the time in the lab. It's uncomfortable to sit because there is no place to put my knees, and I have to move around too much to make it worth my while anyway. However, I've noticed that some of our summer interns find ways to sit when I wouldn't bother.

I'm starting to have trouble with the arches of my feet. My lab time has massively waned lately, though, and I doubt I will be back in there regularly for a few months. Maybe they will heal.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

I always used to stand too. When I left the lab, I put on a few pounds very quickly - I'd had no idea exactly how many extra calories I was burning just by standing and moving around rather than sitting all day!

microbiologist xx said...

TJ - 1. Some extra cushion Nikes and I only wear them for running. They are a size larger to accommodate foot swelling during a long run, making my already large feet look like skis. Any desire I would have had to wear them somewhere else is pretty much abated by that. I've tried every brand, but the Nike seem to fit my foot the best. I've learned the hard way that you have to get the right shoe for running.

2. LOL! I have a pretty decent stool. I wish it were the kind with no back at all, but it's not too bad. I just don't use it.
I have had some of the ones you mentioned in the past. I particularly dislike the one that sinks when you sit on it. Also, anything too slippery is bad. The ones in my old BSL3 seemed like they were coated in oil and if you didn't approach it just right, you would actually push the damn thing away. No one wants to bust ass on the lab floor.

AA - I hope I do adapt, but maybe it is time to invest in a mat. Hell, it can't hurt.

EGF - No knee holes!!! Ugh. That would pretty much prevent all attempts at using the stool. I hate trying to sit all sideways with your knees in one direction and your torso in another.
I hope your arches feel better. That sounds painful.

Cath - Standing up certainly has its advantages and I try to remind myself of this. I really think the amount I stand helps keep my weight under control, particularly when I am having a poor showing at the gym or the track. I don't know what I will do when I finally settle into a desk. I guess I'll have to work out more because there is no way in hell I'm going to eat less or forgo eating all the yummy and horribly unhealthy foods I love. :)

Hermitage said...

I rarely sat at the bench. Mostly because I was doing OMG GO FASTER!!111! type extractions where I was running like a chicken with it's head cut off every 5 min. So it never took. That and benches are usually at an unfortunate height for my proportions where I need a freaking mile-high stool to comfortably sit at them. So I gave up.

EcoGeoFemme said...

Cath, I'm having the same problem! I've gained so much weight in the last 6 months, which roughly corresponds to when I finished most of my lab work. It's also harder to have snacks when I'm in the lab a lot.

tideliar said...

Fnar fanr...utilizing your stool... hurgh hurgh...


Ahem. Sorry.

I was a stander too; and when I started doing electrophysiology I noticed my back and legs aching terribly from sitting!