Research shows that standing can offer some great benefits, which has led to the prominence of standing desks.
Standing will only be healthy and good for muscles, fatigue, and comfort if you stand correctly. One common issue with the way that people stand is found in the knees.
A lot of people tend to lock their knees when standing and it may not seem like that big of a deal, but there are things to keep in mind that may make you want to change those knee-locking habits.
Is it Bad to Lock Knees When Standing?
During a prolonged period of standing, you may have found that you are locking your knees. While a lot of people do not notice that they do so, it can lead to some complications that will bring the error to the forefront of your mind.
You can test your knees by standing and then using your hands to push lightly back from the front of your kneecaps. If they do not move back any more than their current position, then you likely already have them partially or fully locked.
Locked knees contract quad muscles and the joint becomes hyperextended:
The human body is not designed to lock into place and is supposed to have some movement and flexibility at all times.
When it doesn’t achieve that ability to develop motion, the body will put excessive stress on the joints, muscles, and the rest of the body.
Locking the knees also places direct pressure on other body parts and may even lead to back, neck, and shoulder pain in some instances.
Furthermore, the hyperextension from locking knees can also weaken the ACL and other portions of the knee structure.
This can lead to injury or at least vulnerability to injury. It may also cause your knees and other components of your body to wear out sooner and since those are the types of things that give out on most people’s bodies, you must take care of them while you can.
Locked knees can also exaggerate the curvature of the spine and back, thereby adding excessive stress to the area. This can also make it harder to engage the muscles in your core.
All of this is a recipe for weak back muscles and slowly developing pain throughout the buttocks, back, shoulders, and neck.
When we stand, the small micro-movements and ability to sway can prevent fatigue in the muscles and joints and well.
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The tension with locked knees has nowhere to go and we cannot release it. Instead, it puts pressure on our bodies and wears the legs out gradually over time.
You may even find that your legs get tingly or cold when you lock your knees. This is caused by a restriction in blood circulation.
Without blood flow throughout the legs and the rest of the body, you will not be able to work and live optimally.
The result is pain, discomfort, and weakness that can distract you from working at a standing desk or enjoying standing wherever you are.
Why do I lock my knees when I stand?
If you lock your knees while you are standing, then you are probably wondering why you do so. Different reasons contribute to your tendency to lock your knees while you stand.
It may be a habit developed over time and now you just naturally lock your knees anytime you stand. If this is the case, then it may be harder to break that habit and the initial cause may be hard to pinpoint.
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Sometimes people lock their knees out of a false sense of stability. To some, it may seem more supportive or stable to lock knees while standing because there is less movement. This is false though and it has the opposite result.
Locking knees compromises stability because it is unnatural and there is no way that you can adjust to conditions. Just like a skyscraper has to sway and adjust to the wind to prevent damage, your body cannot stay in a fixed place either.
Finally, you may find that locking your knees is more comfortable in the short term, which can lead to prolonged knee locking that will stop being comfortable before too long and can cause pain and other types of discomfort.
It may even contribute to a lack of focus and make it more likely that you will participate in fidgeting activities.
How do I stop my knees from locking when I stand up?
So, you know that you lock your knees and you know that it can be bad for your health. Now you must address the problem.
Let’s look at what you can do to prevent your knees from locking whenever you stand.
First, when you stand, do not put all of your weight on your heels.
When your entire weight is on the back of your foot, it creates a slight plantar flexion on the ankle and forces the knees to work towards a locked position.
Focus on shifting some of your weight at the forefront (although not all of it so that you can still have a balance).
When you go from sitting (or squatting) to standing, focus on when in motion the knees work their way into the locked position.
The knees should move upward, but if you can identify the point where the kneecaps begin to move backward you may be able to examine the way it feels and determine the best way to correct that moment.
Finally, you may also find it helpful to exercise the knee caps and other parts of the legs.
You don’t have to develop the muscles like a bodybuilder, but strengthening some of the components of your legs may help you stay more comfortable without locking your knees.
The most important portion to work on is the hamstrings. Try stretching them or even do some heel and calf lifts occasionally throughout each day.
If you can move from locking your knees to releasing them and back again, you may be able to discover the feeling that you can feel when you have soft, or unlocked, knees.
Then you will be more likely to recognize the times when you are standing properly and the times when you are locking your knees.
Focusing on your posture can help you determine the best standing position for your health and comfort.
When you are standing, the shoulders should be slightly back and pulled away from the side of your head and your ears.
The knees should be soft and the muscles should feel a release when compared to the position they would be in if they were locked.
The stomach should be slightly pulled in to maintain or straighten the spine and natural curvature of the back and the chest should be lifted to tuck the tailbone beneath the rest of the body.
How do I prevent my knees from locking while using a standing desk?
So now you know how to stop your knees from locking when you are standing, but when you are using a standing desk there are some other considerations to make to stand properly without the knees being pushed back.
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First, you want to make sure that you are positioned correctly about the desk, mouse, keyboard, monitor, and any other supplies you will want to reach.
The monitor should be around a foot from your face and slightly below eye level when the knees are slightly bent.
When you adjust the standing desk, you want to be able to rest your wrists on top of the surface when your arms are extending at a 90-degree angle away from your body.
The neck, arms, shoulders, and other portions of the body should always remain relaxed, even when typing or completing work tasks.
As you work throughout the day, you may find that you tend to slouch and your posture gradually worsens until it is time to go home.
Always focus on keeping your head resting directly on top of your neck and shoulders without bending or slouching the neck.
You always want to manage a neutral spine position to prevent uneven support or tension.
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Then, if you can get an electronically adjustable standing desk with memory preset buttons, you may find that you do not have to go through the hassle of measuring or adjusting each time you go from sitting to standing or back.
Since it is healthiest to alternate between the two, it only makes sense to have an easy way to change the height of the desk.
It is common for people to lock their knees while standing, but it is not good to do so and can lead to fatigue, pain, and other problems.
This is especially true if you use a standing desk at work for much of the day every day.
Identifying the problem is the first step toward addressing it.
Then, you can make the proper adjustments for better posture, more comfort, and soft knees and you will find that you benefit greatly from these changes.