5 Tips to Use a Standing Desk Correctly

5 Tips to Use a Standing Desk Correctly

Standing desks have become very popular.

Early studies show they can be highly beneficial for health and productivity.

This is especially true with versions that adjust between standing and sitting.

However, there are no clear guidelines about the best ways to use a standing desk .

This article gives you 6 tips for using a standing desk correctly.

These will help you maximize the benefits and minimize the negative effects.


1. Alternate Between Sitting and Standing

There’s no doubt that sitting too much is very bad for your health. However, that certainly does not mean you should stand all day instead.

Studies have found strong associations between lower back pain and standing occupations, such as bank tellers and production line employees .

Standing still for long periods is also thought to negatively affect your leg muscles, tendons and other connective tissue, and may even cause varicose veins.

Fortunately, this can be avoided by simply alternating between sitting and standing.

The research is still in its early stages, but a ratio of 1:1 or 2:1 sitting versus standing time appears to be optimal for comfort and energy levels, without affecting productivity .

That means for every 1 to 2 hours you sit in your office, 1 hour should be spent standing. Try to alternate between sitting and standing every 30 to 60 minutes.

2. Adjust Your Desk and Screen

Correct desk height and computer screen position are fundamental for improving comfort and minimizing injury risk in the office .

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.

If you’re using a laptop, try to align the keyboard with your elbow height.

However, this forces you to tilt the screen back and your neck downwards, which is not ideal for long-term use.

3. Change Your Keyboard and Mouse Position

Working long hours on the computer can strain your wrists. Therefore, it’s important to optimize wrist position when sitting or standing.

The ideal angle when standing is slightly more extended (tilted upwards) than when sitting.

A failure to consider this difference in those who frequently swap between sitting and standing has been shown to lead to greater wrist pain and discomfort .

In order to protect your wrists when standing, always keep your keyboard and mouse at the same level, and your wrists straight when typing.

If you still experience sore wrists on occasion, consider using an adjustable keyboard stand and gel mouse pads for optimal support.

4. Use Arm Supports

An arm support is soft padding or surface area that attaches to your desk. It is designed to reduce pressure on the wrist that operates the mouse.

This is a well-researched area, with numerous studies showing arm supports can significantly reduce the risk of developing neck and shoulder problems .

These are worth looking into if you often experience problems, especially on the side of your dominant hand.

5. Remember to Take Breaks

Even though standing at your desk is better than sitting, you should still take regular breaks to move and stretch, clear your head and rest your eyes.

For some people those quick breaks come naturally, while others may need an automated reminder.

A great option is to install reminder software on your computer, or to download a break reminder app on your phone. There are many free versions of both of these.

One study found that after just two weeks of using a reminder program, call center employees experienced less upper limb and back discomfort.

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