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How to Use Your Standing Desk Correctly

12 September 2023

Standing desks are rising in popularity due to how many benefits they have in comparison to sitting desks. With more and more people becoming aware of the downsides of sitting for long periods, it's no surprise that standing desks are the solution they're turning to.

However, standing desks also need to be used correctly if you want to get the benefits of using them. Anything is only useful as long as you know how to use it the right way.

Here are some tips on how to use your standing desk correctly.

The Right Way to Use A Standing Desk

Sitting-Standing Intervals

When you first get yourself a standing desk, you'll feel inspired to stand as much as you can. This is a good thing, and standing is definitely more encouraged than sitting, but there's a catch - standing for long stretches is also bad for you, especially if you stand the wrong way.

It's best to start slowly, with intervals between sitting and standing so that you spend a fair portion of the day doing both. If you push yourself into standing all the time, you'll be forcing yourself into an unnatural position while you work for a long stretch, which can cause you pain.

While sitting is technically not the natural position, it is the one that your body is used to, and if you want to force it out of the habit, you'll have to do so slowly. Instead of standing all the time as soon as you get your desk, switch between sitting and standing for equal portions of the day to get your body out of the sitting habit.

As time passes, you'll be able to stand for longer periods at once without your body being in pain. However, even standing for long periods isn't necessarily good for you. It can put pressure on your back and make your legs hurt.

It's best to spend about 4 hours of the work day standing, and the rest sitting. However, don't do all of this at once - alternating between the two is the right way to go.

Standing desks like FlexiSpot's Kana Bamboo Desk come with memory settings so that the switch between sitting and standing becomes a lot easier. Now you don't have to adjust the desk to your needed height every time, but get it done with the press of a button.

Move Around

If you think standing is enough, think again! The main problem with sitting is that it makes your body idle for a long time. No matter what position your body is in, being still is not good for you.

Even when standing at your standing desk, you should move around. Unlike when sitting, you probably won't feel any pain or tiredness in your legs after a while when standing, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't move!

A small walk around can help, and so can light exercises under the desk, such as calf raises or stretches. The point is to move your body around so that your circulation isn't disrupted. Staying still for a long time while standing is almost no different from staying still for a long time while sitting.

What makes a standing desk healthy is when you stand the right way, and being static is not it.

Stand Correctly

If you're not standing the right way, you'll probably end up doing more harm to yourself than good. Sitting with good posture is better than standing with bad posture, so when you get yourself a standing desk, you also have to make sure your posture is correct.

Don't lean on the desk, or distort your back or neck in any way. You shouldn't be turning your neck or tilting it up or down. The ideal way to stand is with completely neutral posture. This means that your legs are straight, and feet flat. Don't lean on one foot because this can put all your weight on it, instead of distributing it evenly around the body.

Your arms should also be in the right position while working. Just like when sitting, they should be bent at the elbow with your wrists in a neutral position, rather than reaching up or down.

This may not feel natural at the start, especially if you haven't been following good posture so far, but after some time it will become muscle memory and you will start standing like this without problems.

Use an Anti-Fatigue Mat

When you sit for a long time, you'd have noticed that you feel soreness and pain in your butt from keeping all your weight on it for so long. This is especially true if you're sitting on a hard surface!

Similarly, your feet are the same way. Instead of standing on the floor for all that time, get yourself an anti-fatigue mat like FlexiSpot's MT1. This mat has an ergonomic design meant to keep you from getting tired, and works best.

However, you can also reduce the pressure on your feet using any kind of soft surface, such as a cushiony rug. Without something to reduce the pressure, your blood may start pooling and cause more problems in the long-run.

Good Shoes

When sitting, your shoes don't really affect you all that much. In fact, if your shoes are uncomfortable, most people don't really think twice about taking them off under the desk.

With standing desks, you do have to consider your footwear because it can definitely affect your comfort! Wear good shoes when standing, which keep your feet comfortable and cushioned. You can keep comfortable shoes under your desk for when you work, and switch to more formal ones when you're moving around so that your appearance remains suitable for the workplace.

Arm Support

As mentioned earlier, having your arms in the right position is necessary to avoid all sorts of problems. If your arms aren't in the neutral position, you're going to end up with issues like muscle pain, strain and nerve compression. Non-neutral positions for the wrists are one of the major reasons for the development of carpal tunnel syndrome as well.

The purpose of a standing desk is to avoid health concerns that come with sitting, but for arm support you'll have to take extra care.

The easiest way to go about it is to adjust the desk height so that your arms are resting on the table itself. When sitting, you should be using a chair that comes with armrests, such as FlexiSpot's Standard Office Chair (C5), but you can't exactly have armrests while standing.

Your best bet is to use the table itself. If your monitor is one that doesn't move around, you may want to get yourself a monitor arm like FlexiSpot's Intelligent Arm that can help you keep your neck in a straight position as well to avoid other sorts of posture problems.

Shoulder Position

A problem that many desk workers face - whether standing or sitting - is that we end up slouching our shoulders and hunching our backs. Standing does make it easier to keep your back straight, because you don't rely so much on the chair, but the problem with your shoulders remains.

If your shoulders remain slumped all the time, you can end up with problems like rounded shoulders where they tend to bend forward rather than stay straight. It is difficult to get into the habit of keeping your shoulders straight all the time, because we're so used to it, but it's important if you want to prevent problems.

Do some shoulder rolls from time to time, and adjust your position every time you notice that your shoulders are slumping. You may even want to get yourself a posture corrector to hold your body straight while working so that you don't accidentally end up slumping either.

After some time, you'll realize that your body has gotten used to the new position, and will make it a lot easier to not only correct the posture, but also maintain it.

Cable Management

One thing about standing desks is that the chances of you tripping and injuring yourself are greater if your cables are all over the place. When sitting, the worst that can happen is that your feet get stuck in them, but with standing desks, you can easily trip up and fall.

Make sure that your wires and cables aren't an organizational nightmare when standing! Not only do you remain safe, but it looks a lot better too.

Don't Forget Your Breaks!

Standing while working doesn't get rid of the problem of working for a long time. Nobody can get through an 8 hour work day without breaks, and that includes microbreaks. Your standing desk is there to help you adjust your position and avoid the problem of sitting, but it doesn't mean that you can do nothing else but work!

In fact, breaks are needed to help you clear your mind and refocus yourself. Take a short break every hour before you get back to work. Your body will thank you!