A standing desk is supposed to make you feel good, healthier, and happier, so of course, it isn’t good when you discover that you are just as uncomfortable using a standing desk as you were when you were sitting all the time.
However, our bodies are meant for standing, so in most cases, the issue is easily fixable.
This article covers:
- The main reasons your standing desk use may be uncomfortable
- How to adjust your standing desk to the right height
- How long you should stand and if you should sit ever
Why Your Standing Desk is Uncomfortable
There are lots of reasons that your standing desk may be uncomfortable and sometimes the reason you are uncomfortable can point to the cause.
For example, if it is your feet that are bothering you, then it could be the way you stand, the type of shoes you wear, or the flooring you are standing on.
Let’s look at the most common reasons why you may be uncomfortable.
Desk it Not the Right Height:
To properly use a standing desk, it needs to be the right height. If it is too high, then you will have to tilt your neck back to see the center of the screen or strain your legs trying to be tall enough.
On the other hand, if it is too low, then you have to slouch and undergo poor posture. Both of these are not only uncomfortable, but can lead to back, neck, and shoulder pain.
It is best to raise your desk to the height of your elbows while keeping them tight to your body.
As the height increases, if you have to move your elbows away from your body to reach the keyboard, it is too high.
Your hands should rest comfortably on the top of the keyboard without straining and your eyes should relax and see everything on the desk.
Remember these are only guidelines and the most comfortable and healthy position for you may be slightly different.
The monitor is Too Low:
If your monitor is in the wrong place, then you may have to strain your neck, slouch, or crumple your shoulders to see it.
This can lead to tension, soreness, and other problematic issues. This problem occurs with both standing and sitting.
If you use a laptop, this can make it even harder to get the right height for the keyboard and the screen.
The monitor needs to be slightly below eye level. Usually, it is a good idea to keep the top of the screen at eye level so that the center is only barely lower.
Then, tilt the screen so that it is facing slightly up toward your face.
Too Little Movement:
If you are standing in the same position for hours on end, then of course that is likely to cause some complications.
It is important to move regularly throughout the day. Shifting your weight from one leg to the other, going for a walk, and doing some stretches can all make a major difference.
Movement is the best way to get the health benefits out of a standing desk anyway.
If you can move more even if it is only swaying left to right and back again, then you are more likely to keep blood flowing and less likely to get stiff, sore, or uncomfortable.
Try not to stay in the same position for more than 20 minutes while using your standing desk (this goes for sitting too).
Standing Surface is Too Hard:
If you are standing on tile, concrete, or even hardwood, then you may find that your feet, legs, or even your back are under too much pressure.
This can cause discomfort and pain and maybe even make you give up on your standing desk dream.
You can get a standing mat to help provide a surface that is comfortable, supportive, and encourages movement.
They are generally affordable and may help you get the most out of your standing desk.
One final tip: Softer isn’t always better because carpets and other overly soft surfaces can also cause problems because they lack the necessary stability.
Wrists are Bent Awkwardly
If you have to bend your wrists in an unnatural position to type on a keyboard, then there is a major problem.
This can cause bad pain in your hands and wrists that make it hard to go about your daily life.
When you lay your wrists flat directly away from your body at a 90-degree angle, you should be able to rest them on the top of the keyboard without bending or straining.
Then, make sure that the keyboard is also centered so you don’t need to make any awkward movements or turns to reach every key.
You can also use a keyboard pad that will offer additional support to your wrist.
Even if you have the desk at the right height and are standing on the right surface with good posture and natural motions, you may be uncomfortable simply because you chose to wear the wrong shoes.
Sure, you want shoes to match your attire, but you should also care about your well-being.
You want footwear that will support you with comfort. If you need to, you can purchase insoles to provide more comfort and support.
In addition, worn-out shoes may have less padding than when they were new.
It may take some trial and error, but you should find a pair of shoes that takes your pain away and makes you feel energetic and nimble at your standing desk.
Read More >> Should You Wear Shoes at a Standing Desk?
A standing desk is great and can offer some great health benefits, but studies show that the best and healthiest way to utilize your standing desk is to regularly alternate between standing and sitting.
Standing too long can lead to poor posture, weakened muscles, and bad tendencies for slouching or leaning.
The best way to do it is to switch between sitting and standing regularly throughout the day. Also, try to ease your standing time.
Don’t immediately get a standing desk and start standing for 2 hours at a time. Break that time up with sitting. Every 30 minutes to an hour you should make the switch.
If you have bad posture, then that can lead to significant discomfort. However, once it becomes a habit you have to make an effort to change.
When the natural curvature of the spine is maintained by your sitting and standing posture, that will help to eliminate many of the problems you may be having with your standing desk.
This is also related to desk height as well as the positions of the monitor, paperwork, keyboard, mouse, and anything else you need to use and reach.
It may take time to retrain, but keep your thoughts on your posture throughout the day so you can be aware of your mistakes.
You want to roll your shoulders back under your ears while pressing your chest outwards and keeping your neck upright and centered.
Always move the desk to match your posture because if you change your posture and position to fit the desk, that is more likely to cause significant problems.
Read More >> Do Standing Desks Help Posture?
You are Used to Sitting:
If you go straight from sitting for hours and hours each day to standing just as much, that is going to cause a lot of problems.
It is also the case that if you are using a very uncomfortable chair that your body is accustomed to, then it may cause you discomfort and pain when you're standing as well.
As you alternate between standing and sitting regularly throughout the day, you will want a quality, comfortable, and ergonomic chair to use.
This can benefit your standing time as well. Try to get a chair that is significantly adjustable with lumbar support, armrest, comfy cushions, and other useful features.
How to Adjust Your Standing Desk
When you first get a standing desk, to adjust it properly, you will want to stand straight up with good posture and stick your arms out 90 degrees away from your body while keeping your upper arms by your side.
The desk should go just underneath your hands.
Then, the monitor needs to be up to eye level or slightly below. If you can’t do this because you have a laptop, then it may be good to invest in a cordless keyboard to use instead of the attached one.
A lot of electric standing desks have programmable preset buttons.
This can be extremely useful because you just hit the button and it automatically goes to the perfect height for sitting and standing.
That way you only have to do the measurement one time and then you have the perfect height standing desk forever.
Final Thoughts on Standing Desk Comfort
A lot of people find that they don’t like standing at a standing desk, but the reason for this is because they aren’t using it how they should.
Maybe they are standing too much and not sitting even or maybe they have it too high or too low.
Whatever the reason, it is usually an easy fix that can have you standing up for your health in no time.