Should you be using a standing desk?

Studies indicate that spending extended periods hunched over your keyboard often results in health issues, particularly back pain. Better posture is one way to minimize symptoms, but it’s hard to do with the average desk-and-chair setup. Instead, many people have shifted to ergonomic workstations — and standing desks are one of the top investments.

While standing desks won’t prevent back pain altogether, they may contribute to fewer symptoms by placing the head, neck and spine in optimal alignment. That’s not all standing desks have to offer, though; many people report improved productivity, better circulation and many more benefits. 

What you need to know about standing desks and back pain

Can standing desks alleviate back pain?

Recent studies indicate that spending more time on your feet when you work, including while using “sit-stand” workstations, can minimize back pain as well as fatigue and muscle weakness for most people. Standing desks, in particular, are said to alleviate back pain because they place the head, neck and spine in a neutral position. Unlike stationary desks, standing desks are height-adjustable, so users can find ideal positions for arms and wrists while they use keyboards and mice.

How should you stand at a standing desk?

Standing desks alone won’t reduce back pain. To maximize benefits, you’ll need to adjust the height to create an ergonomic setup — which begins by standing with good posture.

When you stand in front of the desk, make sure your back is straight without being arched. Shoulders should be relaxed, and knees should be slightly bent. Forearms should rest comfortably on the tabletop, and ideally, elbows should be bent close to 90 degrees.

Next, position your computer monitor so that it is no more than 20-30 degrees below eye level. At this height, you’re less likely to bend your neck downward, which often results in neck and back strain. After that, make sure your keyboard and mouse are within reach so you don’t need to strain or stretch awkwardly to use them. 

How do I stop my standing desk from hurting my back?

If you’re using a standing desk and experiencing back pain, there are a few ways to alleviate symptoms.

  • Make adjustments. Change the height of the tabletop or monitor position to find a more comfortable setup. Sometimes, a few tweaks have a significant impact on comfort level.
  • Sit down: Transition to a seated position when you experience discomfort or stiffness, particularly in your core or legs.
  • Use a mat: Place an anti-fatigue mat beneath the standing desk to reduce tension and pressure on the lower body.
  • Move often: Move frequently to boost circulation. When possible, walk around, change positions or stretch.  
  • Wear comfortable shoes: Supportive shoes, including pairs with arch support or memory foam insoles, may reduce lower back and foot pain. 
  • Try a stool: Footstools let you shift your weight from side to side while you stand, which in turn may minimize lower back and hip discomfort. 

However, if you still experience back pain after making reasonable adjustments to your standing desk, contact your doctor to determine whether a standing desk is right for you or if you have underlying back pain issues that need to be addressed. 

How much are standing desks?

Entry-level standing desks cost $125-$200, while most mid-range options with better construction cost $250-$400. High-end standing desks, including electric models, run between $300-$800.

Top 5 standing desks

ApexDesk Elite Series Electric Standing Desk

ApexDesk Elite Series Electric Standing Desk

A high-end option, this electric standing desk comes with a dual monitor mount and has a 60-inch tabletop. The tabletop is made with environmentally-friendly bamboo and has cutouts for power cords and wires. 

Sold by Amazon

Flexispot Quick Install Electric Standing Desk

Flexispot Quick Install Electric Standing Desk

It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to set up this sleek, minimalist standing desk, which also offers quiet adjustments. The simple design coordinates well with room décor and office furniture. 

Sold by Amazon

Safco Products Muv Stand-Up Computer Workstation

Safco Products Muv Stand-Up Computer Workstation

If you’re short on space, this podium-inspired standing desk has a smaller footprint than most designs. The “stacked” design includes two lower levels for flexible storage and a pull-out keyboard tray. 

Sold by Amazon

Flash Furniture Mobile Sit-Down, Stand-Up Ergonomic Desk

Flash Furniture Mobile Sit-Down, Stand-Up Ergonomic Desk

Popular for home use and mixed-use spaces, this mobile standing desk is ideal for working on laptops and tablets. It offers quick-and-easy adjustments from sit to stand with pneumatic controls.

Sold by Amazon

TechOrbits Standing Desk Converter

TechOrbits Standing Desk Converter

For those who want to keep their regular desk, this convenient bi-level converter is a formidable compromise. It boasts a durable design with reinforced components, and the top shelf supports up to 33 pounds. 

Sold by Amazon

 

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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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