Many people hear or read about the concept of a standing desk and are instantly sold on the idea, often purchasing one on the very same day. No one can fault them for wanting to ditch the chair as soon as humanly possible. But what we often find is that even people who’ve been working at a standing desk for many years are unable to use their desk in standing mode for very long—sometimes as little as a half hour per day, max—because their feet, legs, or low back start to hurt.
We’ve collected our five best strategies for getting the most benefit out of your sit-stand desk than you might have ever imagined. These simple life hacks can dramatically reduce your sitting time, reduce your aches and pains, and boost your productivity.
1. Invest in a Good Standing Mat
And by “good,” we don’t mean cheesy kitchen mats you find at your local department store. Those mats, made from weak foam or gel, lack the support necessary to keep you standing comfortably in your shoes. A true office standing desk mat is made of 100% polyurethane, which will retain standing buoyancy even after hours of daily use.
2. Keep Your Feet Happy
From porcupine massage balls to active foot rests there are numerous products and techniques for relieving the aches that sometimes come from too many hours of standing.
3. Check that Your Standing Desk Setup is Ergonomically Tuned
Poor posture and improper positioning of arms and hands on the keyboard can lead to aches and pains all the way down your skeleton; not just in your neck, shoulders, and wrists. Maintaining proper wrist and neck ergonomics is essential to workplace health, no matter what position you’re in. Learn how to combat “computer hunch” by installing and correctly adjusting a keyboard tray and monitor arm.
4. Mix it Up
Sitting, standing, or walking on a treadmill for too many hours at a time can all lead to sore muscles and other ergonomic maladies, so it’s always best to keep track of the time you spend in each modality, and mix it up. Our office fitness experts recommend you spend no more than two hours at a time in any one modality, and to take 5 minute breaks every 25 minutes for stretching and re-energizing. Studies have shown that taking these regular “pomodoro timer breaks” leads to optimal mental as well as physical performance.
5. Inject “Standing Bias” into Your Workstyle.
When leaving your office for the day, always leave your adjustable-height desk at standing height. That way, when you come back to work in the morning, you’ll start out standing. If you start your day sitting, you’ll almost certainly spend more time each day in that sedentary posture, so with this one simple hack, you can virtually guarantee that you’ll be spending more time standing and less time sitting each and every day.