If you work in an office, sitting for eight hours a day can be bad for your back. You may feel stiff and sore when you stand up. But the simple act of switching positions—sitting for a bit, standing up, moving to the treadmill desk—makes all the difference in how you feel at the end of the day.
An adjustable standing desk can help people with serious orthopedic conditions whose medical team has recommended using a standing desk to help them be more comfortable while sitting or standing. Other benefits include muscle toning and leg strengthening.
Here are some tips for using a standing desk at work.
- Choose the Right Setup and Stand Up Straight
When you get your standing desk, the first thing you want to do is make sure it fits correctly, says Richard Friedel, MD, a spine surgeon at OrthoCarolina Sports Medicine in Charlotte, N.C., who recommends ergonomics products to his patients. “A good ergonomic setup is important to reduce neck and back stress while sitting or standing,” he says. He adds that most people don’t realize that their bad posture—slouching during the day—is also causing them neck and back pain.
Tip: When you’re standing, make sure your weight comes evenly distributed through your entire body. In addition to the spine, muscles in the legs and buttocks should be working to support your weight. And make sure to open up your chest and take deep breaths when you stand up and down during the day.
- Use a Folding Standing Desk Chair for Short-Term Situations
If you can’t change offices but still want a home standing desk because of an injury or medical condition that requires it, use a chair that folds up when not in use. Friedel advises patients not to “sit” in the chair for more than 10 minutes at a time.
- Use a Treadmill Desk
If you’re serious about the standing desk, consider a treadmill desk, which is similar to an upright treadmill but is designed specifically for standing while working. If you work in an office with two standing desks—one on either side of the room—you could fit one in front of each of your existing desks. The space between them is usually just enough to accommodate a treadmill desk (or two). You’ll have to move some things around, but it can be well worth the effort. You’ll be able to work standing up without pain or discomfort.
- Use a Standing Desk Chair
You might wonder why you would spend money on a chair just for standing—and if it would even help you. However, a Cairns Office Furniture expert explains that if you’re not used to standing, sitting for a few minutes in an ergonomically designed chair can make all the difference. Some of these chairs cost more than the treadmill desk (up to $1,000), but a good one is well worth the investment because it makes it easy for you to stand up and sit down again with little stress on your back and neck.
- Buy a Standup Desk Organizer
To maximize your space, you can buy a standup desk organizer to keep supplies within reach and other things off the floor.
- Wear Athletic Footwear for Walking and Standing Around the Office
If you wear athletic shoes when you commute, wearing them to work is a good idea. You should also wear comfortable footwear that’s supportive of your ankles and arches while standing around the office (at least until one of those standing desks fits in the room). You could also try wearing athletic shoes while standing around the house.
- Switch Frequently Between Sitting and Standing
Even though you’re standing, you should still be moving frequently during the day. Set timers to remind yourself to switch positions every 20 minutes or so. Most people can stand comfortably for two hours before they feel uncomfortable. The goal is to lessen the burden on your feet, ankles, knees, hips, and spine by moving around frequently—standing up, stretching, walking around rather than sitting down too long in one place. That way you can extend how often you’re able to stand up throughout the day without feeling pain or discomfort as a result of your workstation setup.
- Switch Between Sitting and Standing at Least Every Hour
Even though you’re standing, you still need to stretch regularly throughout the day. Most people can stand comfortably for two hours before they feel uncomfortable. The goal is to lessen the burden on your feet, ankles, knees, hips, and spine by moving around frequently—standing up, stretching, walking around rather than sitting down too long in one place. That way you can extend how often you’re able to stand up throughout the day without feeling pain or discomfort as a result of your workstation setup.
Start out slow. Don’t try to adjust to a standing desk in one day. You need time to adjust and experiment with the chair itself. See how it feels and if you can keep your balance. Try standing at your desk when you feel tired and need a boost of energy before going home and it will all work out.