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How to use a Standing Desk

Do you have a standing desk? Or are you looking to incorporate one into your work routine? The trend has gained popularity in recent years, especially during the pandemic where more and more people are working from home, with experts touting benefits including more attentiveness to assignments and less discomfort. But, before you decide a standing desk is the right choice for you, there’s a lot you should know about how to use this piece of furniture properly.

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Best Use Practices for Standing Desks

Believe it or not, there is a proper way to use a standing desk.

Better by Today, NBC News’s guide for tips on how to live a smarter and healthier life, published an article detailing some best practices for using standing desks, including:

  1. Don’t overdo standing
  2. Build up to standing for longer periods of time in 10-to-15-minute intervals
  3. Set an alarm to remind yourself to stand
  4. Include movement and stretches into your regimen
  5. Keep good posture
  6. Work in some yoga moves to help with neck, shoulders, back and legs
  7. Take breaks from typing
  8. Create an 80-degree angle with elbows, set keyboard height at your bellybutton
  9. Wear shoes with the right support

Office furniture retailer Autonomous put together its own list of 20 recommendations to use a standing desk like a pro. They have some very useful information including tips on how to stand correctly. The site advises the following, “The most proper way to stand at a standing desk is to point your toes forward with your feet screwed into the ground. You should also activate most of your muscles in your legs and keep your back and neck straight, but really straight. After a while, this will start to feel natural and you will always keep on standing like this, without feeling any pain or discomfort.”

Another tip from Autonomous to add comfort when using a standing is  putting something soft beneath your feed. “Just as your bottom, back, and neck will get the brunt of the pain from sitting for too long, so will your feet get the same after standing for too long. So, what’s the solution here? Well, basically anything soft, like an anti-fatigue mat or better, a flow board, that you can put beneath your feet. You can even buy an anti-fatigue mat that has a comfortable ergonomic design that will help you relieve the pressure that you put on your feet.”

How to Set Up a Standing Desk 

As we referenced above, there are multiple factors to consider before transitioning to a standing desk, starting with the importance of setting up your standing desk correctly. This means ensuring the desk is at the proper height and that your screen and keyboard are also in the proper position.

Healthline, a website that provides health and wellness information to readers in an accessible and understandable manner, has put together comprehensive suggestions to make sure your standing desk is set up properly. Healthline’s step-by-step advice is as follows: “To begin, set your standing desk at about elbow height. This means your elbows should be in a 90 degree position from the floor. As a guide, the average 5’11” (180 cm) person would have their desk about 44 inches (111 cm) high. Recommendations for screen position are not black and white, but the general consensus is to have it 20–28 inches (51–71 cm) from your face. As a quick reference, the distance should be no less than from the tip of your middle finger to your elbow. The top of your screen should be eye level, with a small upwards tilt of between 10 and 20 degrees. The idea is that you should never need to tilt your neck up or down.”

Similar to the importance of proper set-up, you want to make sure that anything you need is within reach of your standing desk position. The Mayo Clinic, a nationally renowned academic medical center,  published an article that highlighted a few tips for standing desk safety: “Keep key objects — such as your telephone, stapler or printed materials — close to your body to prevent excessive stretching.” The Mayo Clinic also advised when it comes to using a phone at a standing desk, “If you frequently talk on the phone and type or write at the same time, place your phone on speaker or use a headset rather than cradling the phone between your head and neck.”

Standing Desk Height Calculator

While we’ve just covered some recommendations about setting up a standing desk, you must remember that your standing desk should be at the proper height based on your size. Height calculators, such as this one from e-commerce website Beyond The Office Door, will help you determine how high to position your standing desk.

Height calculators will help to ensure that your desk is set to the height best suited for you. Ergotron, which specializes in products to promote movement, produced a height calculator you can find here.

Useful Accessories for Smart Desks

Adding accessories into the mix can make a huge difference when it comes to standing desks

Ergonomic product retailer Uncaged Ergonomics put together the following list of “must-have” standing desk accessories.

  1. Under desk keyboard and mouse platform
  2. Active seating
  3. Anti-fatigue mat
  4. Comfortable supportive shoes
  5. Balance board
  6. Foam roller
  7. Mini elliptical trainer/ treadmill/bicycle trainer
  8. Under desk CPU holder
  9. Monitor riser
  10. Laptop stand

DIY Standing desk

There are a lot of options in the marketplace to purchase a standing desk. But, if the price tag isn’t right for you, and you’re handy, you can find tips on how to make your own standing desk.

Start Standing, a company committed to informing people about the dangers of a sedentary life and offering guidance for how to add movement into your life, has a complete guide for building your own standing desk. 

CNET – a consumer website offering the latest on tech, culture and science – published an article that details 3 ways to convert any desk into a standing desk. 

Health Benefits of Standing Desks

A 2019 CNN article points to data that shows standing desks have the most impact in “relieving discomfort.” The article reported, “We saw consistently across the studies an improvement in discomfort and pain as people use the desks,” said April Chambers, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at University of Pittsburgh. “And this was found not only in people who, for example, experienced low back pain, but also in adults with obesity and in healthy populations as well.” The article goes on to say… “The study also looked at attentiveness: “They don’t make you more alert, but they don’t make you less alert.” As for improved workplace mood, researchers found “inconclusive” results, and for workplace productivity, they “didn’t see any negative effects on work performance.”

Smartway2 previously published an entire post on standing desks that highlights several of the benefits we discussed above, such as the following list of advantages from ergonomic office furniture company Uplift Desk.

  1. Increase Energy
  2. Improve Mood
  3. Harness Joints and Muscles
  4. Boost productivity
  5. Lose Weight
  6. Improve Mental Focus
  7. Lower Risk of Disease
  8. Reduce Caffeine Intake
Stefania Vatidis

Stefania Vatidis

Last updated January 21, 2021