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3 Essential Checks To Make Before Using a Standing Desk

26 January 2022

In the modern workplace, standing desks are pretty mainstream pieces of office furniture. Many employees will have the opportunity to try one out, and some will find they prefer a standing desk over a standard office desk and chair.

Standing desks boast a variety of potential health benefits, and that’s definitely something to shout about. However, it’s not enough to simply choose and assemble any old model, with a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Nothing worth having is ever that easy. Still, in this case, applying some thought and making a few adjustments is all it will take to hit the standing desk jackpot. 

To help things run smoothly, we’ve identified three areas that need your attention. This guide should help you create and enjoy the ultimate standing desk user experience.

It’s important to invest enough time to customize a standing desk to suit the individual user. This guide shares the key information you need to help you get things rolling.

Check 1 – Measure for Elbow Height

Avoid or reduce the risk of hand, finger, wrist and arm problems by being strict about elbow heights. The rule here is pretty simple. You should always adjust a standing desk to the height of the user’s elbows.

It’s easy to get the target 90-degree elbow bend that you need to go for. Once positioned in front of the standing desk, relax your arms by your side. Then bend your elbows to a height that you feel is comfortable when using a keyboard.  

Be careful not to deviate from the 90-degree angle specified, as you may have developed bad habits from previous poor desk-seat positioning. If you were a clock face, your body would stand between 12 and 6, with both arms pointing towards the number 9.

Your wrists should be kept straight, allowing easy access to the entire keyboard without causing tension. Regular keyboard use may increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome or RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) if hands and wrists are in the wrong position.

Do invest time to get the standing desk in the perfect position. When you are confident it’s right, make sure to note the final height measurement. That’s good insurance if you share the desk with colleagues who probably have different height requirements or if it’s adjusted for pretty much any other reason. 

Check 2 – Get Your Posture Right

It’s not unusual for people to develop poor posture over time, so recovering yours may involve quite a commitment. However, let’s not jump the gun. The first move is to stand at your new desk and see how that feels.

Perfect posture is when you have relaxed shoulders, a straight spine, feet planted firmly to share bodyweight equally between both legs, and a strong, upright neck. If that’s you then congratulations, and if it’s not – keep reading.

Unfortunately, the tendency to hunch, slump, or lean on one hip all conspire to drag our posture score down. Poor posture could trigger or heighten health problems, often connected to the back. Sickness and pain inevitably affect your productivity, so it’s essential to look after yourself.

You can start this process by setting up your desk to suit your current posture. Be realistic, though, as nobody can realign their body in an instant.

Commit to making regular further adjustments while you tackle your shortcomings. Most standing desks offer a height range, making it relatively straightforward to change things up as your posture improves. 

Check 3 – Understand How the Control Panel Works

Different models of standing desks offer a selection of popular functions that are accessed via a control panel or control strip. Desk users will have a more meaningful experience when all the controls are understood.

Electric standing desks may feature memory settings to make adjusting the desk’s height as and when needed quite easy. Other switches may control a child lock or an anti-collision feature. As you’d expect, every height adjustable desk model has a unique control panel to learn about and understand. 

It’s worth noting that non-electric versions of standing desks are also available. Even when they offer similar height ranges, manual standing desks are generally cheaper than their electric cousins. They may not have a control panel to deal with, but the first two checkpoints are still just as valid. That makes hand-cranked versions serious contenders in the standing desk search stakes.

Before your first ever driving lesson, you’ll spend time adjusting the seat and mirror to suit your height and leg length. Those tasks are essential to maximize your comfort and safety, and this checklist does the same for standing desk users. It’s a win-win situation.