Are standing desks actually good for us?
Standing desks are popular in the tech world, especially among the remote working folks. While sitting less is good for us, could standing more make things worse?
Standing desks are popular in the tech world, especially among the remote working folks. Standing desks are often touted as the solution that neutralizes detrimental effects of sitting.
While there is no doubt that sitting less is good for us, could standing more make things worse?
Standing still is bad
I tried my first standing desk in 2015, while working at Slack. Push of a button, and the electric motors started whirring. As the desk raised, I could hear the angelic aaaaahs—salvation.
First hour of standing felt like heaven. It was so much better than sitting, and I had more focus. I typed away, helping customers with renewed joy. That is, until I moved my knees.
Painful, tingling feeling on the back of my knees, that was fortunately relieved after a few knee bends. It was the first warning sign of things to come.
After a few months, pain in the back of my knee had become a standard fixture. To make matters worse, both my feet and my back started hurting too. Some colleagues suggested anti-fatigue mats, but that didn't help much. I wanted to stand less and less.
I felt disappointed by standing desks, and marked them off as a fad. Well, at least until I discovered what I had been doing wrong.
Humans are made to move
It turns out that standing still is detrimental to our health. However, moving while standing is beneficial—when done in moderation.
When we move, our muscles don't spend so much time doing the same type of work. Because of that, they don't fatigue as quickly, and can keep doing their job for much longer. The result is less (or no) pain signals in the brain.
But, is it feasible to move while working at a standing desk? After years of experiments, I can confidently say that it is, and it's freakin' awesome.
Moving while working at a standing desk
Here are a few sustainable movement ideas that work for me:
- Keep your knees soft, and never lock them. This prevents pain in the back of your knee.
- Do a tiny two-step dance as often as you can. This prevents sore feet but still allows you to work.
- Keep your trunk moving with small side-bends. They help prevent back pain, but still allow you to keep focus.
- Keep changing positions between sitting, standing, and even lying. Too much of anything is always bad—my suggestion is an hour at most.
That said, we all have unique bodies. I suggest experimenting to find your own movement patterns that help you stand without pain.
Dynamic standing is the key
Standing still is bad—movement is what our bodies are made for. Standing desks are a great addition to any workplace, but I encourage you to try moving while you stand. If possible, change your working position often.
If you found this article helpful, please share it with someone who uses a standing desk.
Thanks for your time,