Pain Free Working

A Complete Guide to Standing Desks

Thinking of buying a standing desk to replace your traditional workstation? Here’s everything you need to know about them before you make your purchase.

What is a Standing Desk?

For the purpose of this post, a standing desk will only refer to the ergonomic workstation and not a fixed height high table or desk.

Simply put, a standing desk is an adjustable workstation that gives you the option to stand up or sit down while working. Some models have a flat top workspace, while others have a specific mount attached for a laptop of monitor. Others only come as frames, thus requiring an additional surface top.

A standing desk is also sometimes referred to as a stand-up desk, sit-stand desk or a height-adjustable desk.

People often confuse standing desks with desk risers/converters. While the primarily carry out the same function, a desk riser is a tabletop accessory, whereas a standing desk is a standalone piece of furniture.

Benefits of a Standing Desk

There’s a lot to gain with a desk, which can be summed up in the following health benefits:

Less body aches and pains

Why does your whole body ache after a day at the office? Probably because you’ve been sitting for most of your shift. With a standing desk, you’re forcing your body to switch in different positions throughout the day, keeping your body active and constantly shifting, essentially reducing the likelihood of leg cramping, shoulder pains, neck strain and other aches.

Increased life expectancy

Standing at your desk decreases the chances of weight gain and obesity since you’re being more active even though you’re at work. Additionally, it normalizes blood sugar and lowers bad cholesterol levels, all good things to help you live longer.

With more energy, a standing desk also promotes a more active lifestyle outside of the office.

Lastly, it reduces the risk of chronic diseases. Studies show that both children and adults are at risk for cardiovascular issues when they lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Increased productivity

Because your body’s more active when you’re standing, you have more energy and are more alert. With there being links between depression and anxiety with a sedentary lifestyle, simply standing for longer during the day also improves mood. With more focus, energy and a positive mood, you’re more likely to work more efficiently with a standing desk.

How to Use a Standing Desk

1. Set your standing table to elbow height

First and foremost, adjust the desk so it’s at or slightly below the height of your elbows. If it’s any higher, you’ll strain your arms. Any lower, you’ll slouch, Either way, neither do any good for your posture.

Whether you’re standing or sitting, your arms should be in the “L” shape so you have the correct posture. If the lowest standing desk setting sits too high or low for your arms, make the proper adjustments on your chair.

The “L” shape is important because that also determines where you should put your keyboard and mouse. Your wrists should always be straight when you’re typing and using the mouse, regardless if you’re seated or standing.

2. Adjust your screen

A standing desk is no good if you haven’t positioned your computer screen correctly. In terms of distance, your monitor or laptop should be placed 51-71 cm or 20-28 in away from your face. Additionally, you should tilt your screen back at a slight angle (10-20 degrees) to prevent eye and neck strain. If you have a laptop, you can tilt it back further since it won’t be at eye level.

3. Don’t stand for too long

Just like how sitting for too long is bad for you, so is standing. Some studies indicate a correlation between standing occupations (such as factory worker) and lower back pain, thus lower back pain can be an issue associated with either sitting or standing for extended periods of time. Your leg muscles will also tire themselves out if you stand for several hours.

The key is to alternate between sitting and standing. That way, you won’t tire out your muscles, won’t develop any aches, while still remaining productive. Start off by switching positions every 30 minutes, or sit for 60 minutes and stand for 30. Once you’re used to working on your feet, then you can alternate every 30 minutes. Everything in moderation, after all.

4. Use an anti-fatigue mat for optimum comfort

Standing still, no matter how short of a time period, is not very comfortable. Shifting your weight between your feet, tapping and stepping are great for keeping your legs active and never putting too much pressure on either foot. Comfortable shoes can make a difference while you stand. You can also invest in an anti-fatigue mat, which is extra cushion for your feet and encourages movement.

5. Incorporate movement in your standing time

In order to reap the health benefits of a standing desk, maintain at least a 1:1 sit-stand ratio per hour. But for the standing portion of the hour, don’t feel that you need to be chained to your desk. In fact, you can use that time on your feet to stretch, walk around the office, buy a coffee, basically any activity that doesn’t require you to sit down. At the end of the day, if there’s anything better than standing while working, it’s including movement to fight the aches and pains and keep the blood flowing.

What to Look for in a Standing Desk

Before making the investment, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Is it suited for your seated and standing heights? Does it adjust to elbow height?
  • Is it within your budget? Are you willing to invest in a new desk?
  • Does it require any additional pieces? Is it a complete workstation or will you need to by a separate desktop?
  • How much space does it take? Will you need to get rid of furniture in your home or office to make room? Are you allowed to bring in your own furniture, if you’re planning on using it in your office?
  • How big of a work surface do you need? Is the standing desk simply for a computer or laptop, or is there ample workspace?

[wpsm_comparison_table id=”1″ class=””]