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How to Effectively Use Your Standing Desk

09 July 2021

Prolonged sitting has been scientifically proven to cause several health problems, including obesity and metabolic syndrome- a plethora of health conditions including increased blood sugar, increased blood pressure, and excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels. But while prolonged sitting leads to health issues like those mentioned above, standing for long periods is also not healthy. Prolonged standing can be as harmful as over-sitting, causing knee pain, back pain, hip pain, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and collapsed veins in the lower extremities due to intense pressure. 

Finding the right balance between sitting and standing can be highly beneficial for health and productivity. Ergonomic standing desks allow users to seamlessly switch between sitting and standing, significantly improving wellbeing and productivity. For most people, using a standing desk simply involves sitting, standing, and repeating the cycle. However, there is more to using a standing desk in the right ways. 

To get the most out of a sit-stand desk, you need to know how to use it effectively. Here are several tips on using your standing desk workstation effectively to stay healthy and productive.   

How to Properly Use a Standing Desk While Standing 

Alternate Between Standing and Sitting 

Prolonged sitting is unhealthy, but so is standing for long periods. Several scientific studies have found a strong correlation between lower back pain and standing occupations such as supermarket attendees, production line employees, and bank tellers. To effectively use your standing desk, ensure you're not standing or sitting for too long.

Most ergonomists recommended a cycle that involves two minutes of sitting for every one minute of standing. Therefore, in an hour, you should spend around 40 minutes sitting and about 20 minutes standing. However, don’t sit for too long in a single session, and vice versa for standing. It is not advisable to sit for a continuous 3 hours, then stand for 2 hours. Best practice dictates that you alternate between sitting and standing; for instance, sit for 40 minutes, stand for 20 minutes, then proceed to sit for another 40 minutes as you go about your workday. This ensures that you’ll never be in a single position for too long. What’s more, your body will be able to recharge in-between each standing session.    

In essence, a 2:1 sitting versus standing time ratio seems like the best option for finding a balance between sitting and standing for optimal comfort and energy levels without hindering productivity.   

Ensure Your Standing Desk Comes to the Right Height 

To effectively use your adjustable standing desk, you need to bring it to the right height. If you set your desk too low or high, the repeated up and down movement puts your wrists at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Therefore, it’s vital to find the right height while using your desk in a standing position. 

But how do you know the right height? The correct height is your elbow height. To find the proper height, stand upright facing the desk and put both hands and forearms on the desk. Your elbows should be making right angles (90 degrees) with the desk from the floor. Also, your hands should comfortably float over the keyboard with straight, relaxed wrists. Ensure your wrist is not inclined up or down with your fingers resting comfortably over the keyboard. This is the correct height. 

When it comes to finding the right height, you should consider a sit-stand desk with height memory presets over a full standing desk.  Sit-stand desks with memory preset to ensure that you’re not constantly adjusting the height when standing. These types of stand-up desks are also ideal for shared workspaces. 

Finding the correct height is crucial for preventing injuries to your arms and hands. It also ensures you're comfortable and productive. 

Get in Good Posture 

When standing, you'll want to position yourself in the right posture to prevent the effects of poor posture, most notably back pains. Good posture, also referred to as a neutral spine position, ensures that the muscles surrounding the spine are balanced and support the body equally. Ensure your back is straight when standing, and keep your hips placed under the desk. Further, ensure your shoulders are relaxed and your neck tall. Your knees should also be slightly bent while standing- they should not be hyperextended or with joints locked. Standing in the correct posture limits harm to your body and keeps you productive. 

Adjust your Monitor Accordingly 

In addition to finding the right height, you should also ensure that your monitor is aligned correctly. The right monitor position minimizes injury risk and ensures you're comfortable while working. It's recommended to place the monitor 20-28 inches (51-71 cm) from your face. The top of the monitor should be at eye level, with a slight upwards tilt of between 10 and 20 degrees. 

The idea is that you should never bend your head upwards or downwards while using the monitor. Always ensure the monitor is placed at eye level to prevent bending your neck upward or downwards, leading to a stiff or sore neck as well as other health issues. 

Consider Using an Anti-Fatigue Mat 

Anti-fatigue mats are a great addition to your stylish standing desk, coming in handy to ease the strain of prolonged standing. These types of mats are ergonomically designed to be placed over hard surfaces such as cement floors, in order to ease the strain exerted on the worker’s feet while standing. They come in various material options including vinyl, wood, rubber among other carpeting materials. Anti-fatigue mats alleviate standing fatigue by facilitating subtle movements of your leg muscles while standing, ensuring blood flow, and reducing overall standing discomfort. If you often experience intense leg or lower back pain when using your fully standing desk or adjustable desk, you should use an anti-fatigue standing mat. 

How to Properly Use a Standing Desk While Sitting 

Adjust the Height of Your Ergonomic Chair 

If you're using your standing desk while sitting, you'll need to adjust the height of your ergonomic chair to match that of the sit-stand desk. This will enable you to maintain a good posture and avoid the problems associated with poor posture, notably chronic back pain. Ensure that the seat’s cushion is in a straight line with your lower knees. Keep your feet firmly flat on the floor and provide a small space between the seat's front edge and the back of your knees. Your knees should also be bent, forming a right angle to the floor and your feet resting in a parallel position.

Adjust the Standing Desk Height 

Adjust the standing desk’s height, ensuring it matches your elbow’s height. To do this, you need to bend your elbows at 90-degrees with the desk and allow your arms to hang loosely near your torso. Ensure your elbows are not in contact with the chair’s armrests. Then raise or lower your standing desk’s height until its base gets in contact with the bottom of your forearms. Your hands should float over the keyboard with straight and relaxed wrists. 

Adjusting your standing desk's height to match your elbow's height protects your arms and hands from injury, notably carpal tunnel syndrome, resulting from repetitive up and down wrist movement. 

Sit Upright 

Slouching or generally sitting in a poor posture increases pressure on the discs and vertebrae of your spine causing back pains and other lumbar conditions. Always sit in an upright position supported by the chair's backrest, preferably padded or curved to fit the hollow shape of your back. Besides, you'll want to consider getting additional lumbar support such as a pelvic support pillow to prevent back pains by limiting pressure subjected to the discs and vertebrae of the spine.  

Sitting upright in the correct posture significantly reduces the chances of developing spinal problems such as chronic back pains, ensuring you're healthy and productive. 

Consider Getting an Ergonomic Chair with Adjustable Arm Supports

When sitting, having your arms in a good position is vital. Arm supports can substantially reduce the risk of developing shoulder and neck problems. Therefore, you’ll want to go for a standing desk chair with soft padded; adjustable arm supports for maximum comfort while working. Ensure the chair can seamlessly fit under the desk with the armrests attached.  Adjustable armrests are essential if you're experiencing neck and shoulder problems after prolonged sitting. 

Is it Worth Getting a Standing Desk? 

While standing desks have some shortcomings, it's totally worth it to acquire one. Stand-up desks are versatile, allowing users to effortlessly shift between sitting and standing to maintain wellbeing and productivity. Using a standing desk correctly enables you to overcome the effects of prolonged sitting and standing by finding a moderation between the two. 

Recommended Standing Desk 

Adjustable Standing Desk Pro- Best Overall 

The Adjustable Standing Desk Pro from FlexiSpot is an outstanding electric standing desk packed with impressive features for a healthy and productive workstation. The standing desk comes with a dual-motor lifting system enhancing the loading capacity and ensuring maximum stability even at the highest lifting speed, i.e. 3.8 cm at a full weight capacity of 125 Kg. 

The desk has a wide height adjustability range of 58-123 cm with steady, quiet, and quick lifting thanks to the dual-motor lifting system. The powder-coated steel tubing enables the desk frame to resist scratches and stains plus provides maximum stability even at the highest speed setting.   

The stylish Standing Desk Pro’s top features solid wood, free of chemicals, and is harder than regular wood. The desktop has indeed been designed for maximum durability, lasting users for years. You can choose from three wood options, i.e. black walnut, cherry wood, and red oak, based on your office décor and style.

The Adjustable Standing Desk Pro is the best overall standing desk you can consider, equipped with outstandingly functional features including anti-collision function, three programmable memory presets, sit-stand reminder, height memory, and cable management system to safeguard the safety of your devices while shifting intermittently between sitting and standing. This desk will indeed keep you healthy and productive with its dual-motor lifting system and an abundance of features. 

In addition to the Adjustable Standing Desk Pro, you can also consider other standing desks from FlexiSpot, including Kana Bamboo Standing Desk to find one that meets your needs and fits your budget. 

Closing Words 

It's a no-brainer that prolonged sitting and standing can have detrimental impacts on one's health. While standing desks can be highly beneficial for health and productivity, they must be used correctly to realize the full benefits. When not used properly, it can be pretty challenging to get the standing desk benefits promised, and may even lead to some health issues. All in all, no matter your specific ergonomic needs, standing desks are versatile and can be customized to fit one's needs, ensuring wellbeing and productivity. If you're looking to buy a stand-up desk and revamp your working experience, we highly recommend the Adjustable Standing Desk Pro owing to its enhanced structure, advanced dual-motor lifting system as well as its abundance of impressive features.