So, you’ve decided to take the leap and buy a standing desk. Maybe you’ve gone the DIY standing desk route and built one for yourself. Now what? The next logical question for a lot of those unfamiliar, how do I use my new standing desk?
If you’ve purchased a standing desk, there is a good chance it’s adjustable. The most popular types of standing desks are called sit to stand desks. These will give you the flexibility to sit and stand throughout your workday. With that in mind, we will be talking about how to use your standing desk at sitting and standing heights.
There are four frequently asked questions related to using a new standing desk. We will cover each question in detail and afterward, you should be able to confidently use your new standing desk.
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1. Where should a standing desk be positioned?
As mentioned above, when we talk about using a standing desk, we are looking at sitting and standing heights. With that said, we should be looking at how to properly position your standing desk in a seated position first. Then, we’ll look at how to position it at standing heights.
One of the first things you will need to do is get yourself properly positioned in your office chair. This positioning should allow you to put your feet flat on the floor. You’ll want to rest your arms comfortably at your sides; your hand should be at or just below your elbow height. The position that your hands are at now is the desired height for a seated typing task.
To find the proper standing height, we will be doing a similar setup. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, you’ll want to rest your arms at your sides comfortably and position your hands at or just below the height of your elbow. This is the desired standing height for typing tasks.
If you are using things like an anti-fatigue mat or switching to different shoes, consider the thickness of each. This can affect your standing height by as much as 2” depending on the mat or shoe. This can have a big impact on your correct standing height.
Note: The industry standard for normal sitting desks is between 29” to 30” tall. After doing this exercise you will find out quickly that standard desk height is only good for a small group of the population. One of the added benefits of a sit to standing desk is the flexibility for proper sitting heights.
2. How often should you stand at a standing desk?
I think one of the worst things people can do when they first get a standing desk is trying to stand all day. Standing too long is one of the most common mistakes made with new standing desk users. Just like sitting, there is a point at which you stand too long. While the problems with standing too long are different than too much sitting, they can be just as bad.
Standing this frequently is an easy way to burn yourself out and discontinue use of the desk. With that said, there isn’t a clear-cut science with how much to stand at your desk. It really comes down to finding a good mix throughout your day.
When people first start out with a standing desk, it’s best to work standing into your routine for smaller chunks of time. An example would be to try standing 10 minutes for every 50 minutes of sitting. This will have you moving twice every hour.
Once you start to get the hang of it and your body adjusts, you can increase the amount of standing. You’ll likely find that your feet are the first to get sore and tired. Others may experience a tired back or fatigue in their legs. Over time you’ll be able to adjust to a 50/50 scenario. Spending half of your day sitting, and the other half standing is a great mix.
You may also find that you’re more efficient sitting or standing for different types of work. If i’m trying to really focus on writing, I personally like to sit. You could be exactly the opposite, but you understand where I’m going with it. Finding your preferred position will help you understand how often you should stand at your standing desk.
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3. How long does it take to get used to a standing desk?
While we briefly touched on this in the section above, how long it requires you to get used to your desk will vary. If you’re in great shape, have an active lifestyle, you’ll likely get used to standing quickly. If your goal with a standing desk is to get into better shape, it will take a bit longer.
Starting with shorter standing periods will help your body adjust quicker, without experiencing the fatigue. Shocking your body with all-day bouts of standing will not end well. Introducing anti-fatigue mats can be a great way to make standing more comfortable. If you have a comfortable pair of tennis shoes, we recommend using them. Providing a good foundation is the key to being comfortable while standing.
4. Can standing desks hurt your back or neck?
Understanding how to properly use a standing desk is key to protecting your body from injury. I am by no means a doctor, but I have been using a standing desk for over a decade. Over that time, I’ve had my fair share of back injuries. But none of these were the result of using my standing desk.
On the contrary, I’ve had to use my standing desk to be able to work during those times of injury. Not putting my body into an office chair allowed my back to remain loose and reduced the pressure that would normally occur sitting in an office chair.
With that said, I can see how using a standing desk excessively, especially if you haven’t built up a tolerance, could cause issues. If you find yourself becoming tired, it’s best to take a break. Pushing your body can contribute to an injury later. Excessive standing could fatigue muscles that potentially lead to poor posture and ultimately lead to injury.
There are few main takeaways from this post. Following my suggestions, using your new standing desk properly shouldn’t be a difficult task. Proper use starts with setting your desk at the correct sitting and standing height. This will help to promote good posture for both positions.
Next, you will want to make sure to ease your way into standing. Start with shorter periods of standing, with longer periods of sitting. Over days and weeks, your body will slowly become used to the change. As that happens, you’ll become stronger able to stand longer.
Adding an anti-fatigue mat to your standing desk setup can help provide comfort for your feet and back. Incorporating shoes with good support can help as well. Making sure to focus on good posture is the best way to significantly reduce injuries while using your new standing desk. Do these things and you’ll be more likely to continue use of your new standing desk.