Prolonged sitting can seriously damage your health. Those who sit for so many hours each day have a higher risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and worse, experience premature death. It also burns the least amount of calories, causing obesity and weight gain eventually.
With the many negative effects of prolonged sitting on one’s health, it is no longer surprising to see many people using standing desks. It’s a desk that lets you comfortably stand up when you are working.
However, before using it, you need to familiarize yourself with a few standing desk mistakes so you can avoid them as much as possible. By being aware of the following mistakes, you have a higher chance of enjoying the desk’s many benefits, including the following:
- Lower blood sugar level
- Lower risk of gaining weight or becoming obese
- Better mood
- High energy levels
- Reduced back pain.
Mistake #1 – Standing Too Long
One common mistake committed by those who own a standing desk is standing on it the entire day. It is because some of them wrongly assume that since they have the desk, they also need to stand on it for several hours a day.
Yes, standing is more beneficial than sitting the whole day. However, if you also stand for an extremely long period, then you will be at risk of suffering the same issues you are trying to avoid due to prolonged sitting.
These include neck and back pain and a higher risk of suffering from joint pain. This is especially true if you have incorrect or poor posture.
Stand for two hours, especially if you are still a beginner. Then gradually increase the amount of time you spend doing so to four hours daily. However, ensure that you do not do it continuously.
It would still be best to alternate between standing and sitting. Also, it should not go over the 4-hour daily recommendation. You may also want to follow the 20:8:2 technique.
This technique involves sitting with good posture for around 20 minutes, standing for eight minutes then standing accompanied by stretching or some movements for the following two minutes.
It also helps to invest in a desk that features a programmable button interface or memory setting, which lets you transition to the ideal standing and sitting positions with ease.
Mistake #2 – Screen is Too Low
Another mistake you should avoid is positioning your computer screen or monitor improperly. It is because its incorrect position, specifically putting it too low, might only cause you to deal with extreme upper back and neck pain. As much as possible, do not position your screen too low.
This might only prompt you to look down at the monitor every time you stand on the desk. Aside from that, such an improper position for the screen might also cause extreme discomfort when it is time for you to sit down.
Apply this tip when positioning your laptop at your desk, too. This is to ensure that you can maintain proper posture and prevent issues with typing and arm positions.
To ensure that the screen is not positioned too low on your desk, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Ensure that the monitor or screen is positioned at the right height – If possible, it should be tilted back a bit. This should let you see clearly without angling down your head or leaning forward.
- Put the screen slightly lower than eye level – This specific spot can lessen neck and shoulder strain. It will also prevent you from hunching over that might only lead to bad posture. Moreover, it can lessen back strain by positioning your neck more naturally.
- Invest in a laptop stand – This is a wise tip if you have a laptop screen. The stand should come built-in with the keyboard and secondary mouse. Through this, you can lift the screen’s bottom from the desk by around 8 inches, promoting more comfort.
Mistake #3 – Height is Too Low or Too High
Another mistake you should avoid when using a standing desk is setting it at an incorrect height. This means that the desk should not be too high nor too low. Note that even if sitting in a desk makes you prone to not setting it at the right height for your body, standing in a desk that does not match your height can have more apparent negative effects.
Keep in mind that the foundation for the proper ergonomics of the desk is the correct height. It is because its height can contribute to the proper positioning of your monitor and keyboard. The way you position those items can also significantly affect the comfort level of various parts of your body, including upper back, neck, and wrist.
To avoid this mistake, you have to be aware of some rules associated with setting up the desk at the correct height. The most basic rule-of-thumb is to set it in such a way that your elbows are angled not lower than 90 degrees.
It also helps to set the screen a bit lower than eye level. While this might make beginners of using standing desks a bit uncomfortable, remember that such kind of discomfort only happens in the beginning.
You may want to invest in monitor arms specifically designed for the desk. These items can help retain the correct posture and height of the standing desk. They do so by letting you adjust the height of the monitor properly from the specific keyboard location.
Mistake #4 – Standing on a Hard Surface
Even if you invest in the most dependable standing mask today, the joy of using it will still subside quickly if you often stand on extremely hard surfaces. Some examples of these are tiles, hardwood floors, and concrete floors.
It is because if you stand on these surfaces for so long then you will still be prone to experiencing joint pain and extreme discomfort. This is possible even if there are commercial-grade carpets that cover the surface.
Prolonged standing on these hard surfaces might also lead to health complications like:
- Swollen legs
- Damaged joints
- Achilles tendonitis
- Orthopedic conditions
In case you feel extreme tiredness affecting your feet even if you stand on your standing desk, then it could be because you are doing so on a hard surface. In this case, you may want to use an anti-fatigue mat.
Putting this mat beneath your feet will provide additional cushion to stand comfortably. Aside from that, it can encourage proper movement even when in that position. The good thing about this mat is that it can relieve pressure from the joints, too.
You may also want to invest in a good footrest. This will provide a solid support for your legs and feet, thereby preventing and reducing back strain as much as possible
Mistake #5 – Using Uncomfortable Shoes
Note that you will be standing on the desk for hours, so you have to wear a comfortable pair of shoes. The footwear you use in the desk contributes a lot to your level of comfort. If you wear the wrong one then your feet and legs will also be uncomfortable.
The problem with this is that such discomfort will also spread to other body parts. It might even cause pain in your shoulders and back. The most comfortable footwear can also prevent leg pain and sore feet.
It provides the right support. Furthermore, a comfortable pair of shoes designed specifically for standing desks will let you stand naturally. It can help evenly distribute your weight across your feet.
Make sure that you wear shoes that are not extremely uncomfortable when you are standing for long periods. A wise tip is to avoid too restrictive shoes. Your goal is to find one that provides adequate support.
Avoid wearing high heels, too. It is because these might force your body to be in an unnatural position and posture. This can also result in extreme stress on your back, legs, and feet.
Furthermore, ensure that the shoe has the right fit. It should be the correct size and have adequate room in the toebox. A pair of shoes with good arch support also helps maintain healthy and comfortable feet while standing on your desk.
Mistake #6 – Not Positioning the Wrist Correctly
The position of your wrist should also be correct each time you stand and work on your desk. However, this is the specific area where a lot of standing desk users commit mistakes. In most cases, the cause is the poor ergonomics and position of the wrist at the keyboard.
The problem is that if you do not correct this mistake, it can lead to muscle and joint pain. This usually happens to those who work in front of the computer while standing or sitting for several hours a day. If you are one of them then prioritize correcting wrist position to lessen the pain in that area.
The ideal position of your wrists when laying them flat is exactly 180 degrees (or at least close to that). It should also be tilted upwards or extended a bit. Also, you can protect your wrists each time you stand while working by putting the mouse and keyboard at a similar level.
Make sure that your wrists are in a straight position each time you are typing, too. If occasional soreness on your wrists persists, then invest in gel mouse pads and adjustable keyboard stand. Both of these can provide optimal support.
Mistake #7 – Having Bad Posture
A good posture contributes a lot to your health. The problem is that only a few focus on correcting it every day. This is a mistake you should avoid if you are using a standing desk because you truly need to have proper posture when you are using the desk.
Note that poor posture every time you stand can negatively impact the amount of time you can spend in that position. It can even lead to extreme back pain, the same level as what you might experience when you are sitting.
Moreover, standing with a bad posture can trigger other health conditions – among which are constricted blood vessels and general fatigue.
To practice good posture when using your standing desk, make sure that its height, as well as the position of your keyboard and monitor, are properly dialed in. You can then focus on re-training your body, so it can develop proper posture. It’s possible through these tips:
- Stand in such a way that your head is straight while your hips are upright – They should have an S-shape or curve in the spine.
- Improve the ergonomics in your workstation – Among the things you can do is to look for the right chair and desk, positioning your knees at a 90-degree angle, and ensuring that there is proper support for your pelvis.
- Switch positions every twenty minutes or so.
- Set the height of your monitor in a way that it is at eye level.
Mistake #8 – Standing Still for Too Long
Undeniably, prolonged sitting is not good for your health. This does not necessarily mean, however, that you have to stand the entire day. Note that doing so for an extremely long period every day can still trigger lower back pain.
Standing still for too long can also harm the muscles in your legs. It can damage your connective tissues and tendons. It might even lead to varicose veins.
You need to move from time to time to increase blood flow. Doing so can also improve your focus, energy, mood, and overall well-being.
Just like what has been mentioned, avoid prolonged standing by moving from time to time. Add variability in your movements when you are in that position. One way to do so is standing on a stepping position with the help of a footstool.
Switching or alternating from right to left leg is also helpful. You can also prevent the issues associated with prolonged standing if you stand and sit alternately. Take breaks regularly even if your position is better than when you are sitting for several hours.
Your breaks should be dedicated to moving and stretching. This should also be the perfect time to let your eyes rest and clear your head.
Mistake #9 – Not Investing in the Right Chair
Note that even with your standing desk around, you still need a chair where you can sit whenever needed. No matter how hardcore you are in using the desk, there are still significant parts of your day when you need to sit. However, you should not just invest in any chair without figuring out if it is the right one for you.
Keep in mind that sitting can cause more strain to your lower back and other parts of your body compared to standing. This is the main reason why you have to choose a high-quality chair. It should be good enough that it will not cause neck, upper back, and lower back pain when you are sitting on it.
Choose to invest in an ergonomic chair. Put it in your stand-up desk so you will have a place to sit on whenever you need to do so. It should have the right ergonomic features to prevent causing pain and discomfort on your upper back, lower back, and neck.
A wise tip is to look for an ergonomic chair with adjustable lumbar and armrests. It should also be able to provide enough support on your thighs. Furthermore, the seating surface should be soft and well-cushioned.
While ergonomic chairs are costlier than typical ones, they are still better options as they are long-lasting. Plus, they can ensure that sitting while you are on your desk will become pain-free.
Mistake #10 – Not Listening to Body Cues or Signals
If you want to maximize the benefits of the standing desk then you must be a good listener to the cues and signals sent by your body. This means you have to listen to what your body is telling you.
It could be telling you that it is time to rest or sit down for a bit. Note that standing even if your body is not in the condition to be in that position might only aggravate the pain and muscle fatigue you might be experiencing.
Also, remember that if you are still a beginner in using the desk then it is greatly possible that your body is not yet fully prepared to stand for a long time. It might not be accustomed to spending the same amount of time you are sitting. With that in mind, you truly have to listen to when your body tells you to rest or take a break.
Pay close attention to your body. Listen intently to what it is telling you. For instance, if your feet or legs feel sore due to standing for quite some time, then you may want to sit or stretch for a while.
Also, take note that if long stretches of being in this position trigger soreness or swollen limbs then it could be a sign that you are staying in that position for too long. In such a case, you can greatly benefit from sitting down periodically.
Furthermore, observe whether you still feel pain and discomfort even when you take breaks. If that is the case, you may want to seek the help of professionals (ex. physical therapists and ergonomics experts).
Find out if such body cues result from incorrect desk setup or spending a lot of time standing immediately without going through the recommended transition.