Standing desks have never been as popular as they are right now. And it’s easy to understand why—standing up more often literally makes you feel better. The problem is, most standing desks today don’t allow you to stand with proper posture. Standing incorrectly means you’re hurting your back and neck just as badly as if you were sitting all day.
So what do you do to avoid postural and skeletal damage from standing improperly? Using an ergonomic standing desk helps you avoid these easy-to-make mistakes:
1. Monitor too low
A good standing desk lets you place your monitor at eye level. You should be able to look straight ahead when going through your spreadsheets, presentation decks and cat videos. But most standing desks are just one, big adjustable platform; your monitor sits low on the same level as your keyboard and mouse. No good. This causes you to crane your neck downward.
Have you ever needed to stretch your neck after looking down at your phone for too long? That’s from neck flexion. All that looking down can cause medical issues. If you can’t get a standing desk with two adjustable levels, stack your monitor on some books or a crate. Make sure to get the screen in front of your face.
2. Keyboard too high
Let’s say you raise your standing desk so that the monitor is at eye level. How high is your keyboard and mouse? For a relaxed, comfortable arm position, you want the shelf that holds your keyboard and mouse to be at elbow height, or a little lower. That way, when you bend your arms to type and click, it’s close to a 90º angle.
Bending your elbows tighter than 90º restricts blood flow to the hands. Having a keyboard too high up can increase your likelihood of carpal tunnel syndrome, and damage tendons around your elbow joint. Plus, having the keyboard at the right height helps you avoid lifting your shoulders and storing stress in your trapezius.
The problem is, most standing desks don’t allow you to stand with proper posture.
3. Standing too much
Sitting all day is bad for your health. It increases your chance of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
But guess what? Standing too much is also bad for you. It increases your chance of DVT, varicose veins and low back pain.
If it seems like you just can't win, don't worry, you can. Simply set a timer to remind yourself to stand up every 20 minutes. Make it a goal to stand for a total of more than two hours a day.
4. Not using an anti-fatigue mat
“Anti-fatigue mats" are just a fancy term for those soft, foam pads that cashiers and auto-parts store employees have been using for decades.
When you're standing at your desk, plowing through work at light-speed, a standing mat allows you to stay comfortable on your feet and keep your productivity humming along.
5. Wearing high heels
This one is mostly for females, but can also apply to males standing in dress shoes. We're all aware that those Louboutins are horrible for your ankles and back. But when you stand in heels, you're training your leg muscles to constantly contract, which causes ligament and nerve damage. Stand with flats, or in socks, or in your bare feet. It's all good!
Putting It All Together
Following these guidelines, you should look like the woman to the right: neck neutral, gazing straight ahead, arms bent at 90º, and standing in flat shoes on an anti-fatigue mat.
If you use a standing desk such as Readydesk, you're probably doing it to be healthier. Make sure you use yours the right way to see the biggest benefits.