If you have a standing desk, you probably don’t want to wear those uncomfortable high heels or loafers that look good for work. Or maybe you work from home and don’t want to put shoes on at all. But is it really a good idea to go barefoot when using a standing desk?
Is Barefoot Standing Good for You?
Standing barefoot may be comfortable, but there are some considerations to make before you decide to stand without shoes at your desk for a prolonged period of time. Now, if you have uncomfortable shoes that do not have adequate support, then barefoot is likely preferable, but you also have to consider the surface that you are standing on.
If you have a hard surface like tiles or wood then standing barefoot should give you enough support, but it may start to cause aches and pains after some time. These pains in your feet, heels, and shins could make it difficult to attain the benefits of using a standing desk because you may be tempted to sit more.
If you are standing on carpet, it may be comfortable for a short period of time, but it is probably not supportive enough. This means that your body may be doing more work just to balance, which sounds like it could be good. But the amount of support is likely not enough and may also be irregular so that you develop leg and back pain.
There are a number of symptoms associated with prolonged standing or walking without shoes on. You can develop weakness and fatigue in your feet and legs and the tissue around the spine can actually break down. It can also cause muscle spasms as well.
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Things to Consider Before Standing Barefoot at a Standing Desk
While standing barefoot isn’t the worst thing you could do, if you are standing for more than 30 minutes to an hour at a time, then there are better options available. However, this doesn’t mean that you should never stand without shoes. In fact, it can be beneficial to occasionally use the standing desk barefoot because it allows your body to feel the fatigue in the feet and legs, which promotes more movement and encourages the alternation between standing and sitting.
When you are barefoot, you will have to make sure that you don’t stub your toes or drop work materials on top of them. While this may not seem like a major concern now, it will definitely seem like you made a mistake when it happens and the pain kicks in.
Also, bare feet may not be protective from the elements. This could mean that you get cold easier or it could mean that you do not have sufficient defense against germs, spills, and other things that may be on the floor. In fact, these things could lead to athlete's foot, plantars warts, and other bothersome issues.
Finally, going barefoot is not the most professional look. If you work from home, this may not be a problem. If you don’t, then your coworkers may see you as unprofessional and your boss may be upset with your look. Plus, bare feet can also be stinky which is not fun for anyone.
Why are Shoes Important at a Standing Desk?
Comfortable shoes can offer you support and comfort that can prevent back pain and promote a positive, healthy work environment. When we stand for a long time, our body can get tired and fatigued pretty easily which can lead to slumping and slouching. While it is good to sit some of the day, we should also keep standing. Shoes can help us do this because they are supportive and comfortable and also help to prevent excessive fatigue.
However, this is only true if you have good, comfortable shoes. If your shoes are uncomfortable then they can distract you from your work and cause additional pain in your feet, legs, and back. So how do you know how to choose the right shoes?
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How to Choose the Right Shoes for a Standing Desk?
While you can usually tell if a shoe will be comfortable or not, that is not the only thing to consider. Sure, you do want the shoes to be comfortable, but comfort does not also mean healthiness and adequate support.
The type of shoes that are usually the most comfortable are tennis shoes. They are designed for activity and are usually very comfortable while providing arch support and sufficient traction. However, they may not always be good for using while you are working and may not be part of professional attire.
Try to find shoes that work for you and that provide the support and comfort that sneakers or tennis shoes often provide. Look for shock-absorption, especially if you will be standing on hard floors. This will help to reduce the impact on your joints and muscles which can prevent pain.
Arch support is crucial when finding shoes that are supportive enough to use at a standing desk for a good amount of time each and every day. This will make you more comfortable while providing the support you need to actually continue using the standing desk each day.
Finally, this may sound obvious, but make sure that the shoes are the right size. If they are slightly too small, then your feet will be constricted which can lead to discomfort and pain. If they are too large, even if barely too big, then they will not offer the support in the right points on your foot.
What are the Downsides to Shoes at a Standing Desk?
While shoes are often preferable to going barefoot, there are some downsides to keep in mind. First, the shoes that you need to go with your work attire may not be the most comfortable. It can actually be hard to find dress shoes that offer the necessary support and comfort for working at a standing desk.
Also, comfortable shoes may be hard to find and you may not know if they are comfortable without wearing them for a whole day. This may mean that you try a couple of pairs before you find the ones that work for you. This can be expensive because comfortable, well-made shoes are not always very cheap.
Some shoes may also be unstable and hard to use while maintaining good posture. Some will even shift your weight forward or backward so that there is more weight and pressure on a portion of your body.
Flat shoes will also not be good because the arches of your feet will flatten out. This means that your body is not properly supported and you may even develop new pains after purchasing these types of shoes.
What About an Anti-Fatigue Mat?
Anti-fatigue mats is a simple mat that can be used with your standing desk to provide additional comfort, support, and stability. They can keep you standing for a longer period of time before experiencing substantial fatigue in your legs and corer.
They are a great choice for people who find that standing on the floor begins to cause pains in your feet and legs. Some people find that standing on carpet causes extra fatigue to their legs as well because it does not offer enough support.
A lot of anti-fatigue mats are also good for promoting subtle body movements in the muscles that can increase blood flow and reduce some of the problems associated with prolonged standing. They are also very comfortable.
You can successfully use an anti-fatigue mat with or without shoes. If you are barefoot, then it will offer the support and comfort that you could find with an extremely beneficial pair of tennis shoes. If you already have shoes, then it just adds to the support and promotes additional benefits.
Additional Tips About Shoes at a Standing Desk
It is important to remain comfortable, but how can you do that? Here are a couple of tips to help you use your standing desk with, or without, shoes.
First, shoes may make it harder to feel the fatigue in your feet and legs from prolonged standing. This does not mean that you should stand for the entire day. It is best to combine your standing with sitting for the best health benefits.
Also, shoes may make you stand in the same position for a lot longer than you would if you were barefoot. This can be bad for your health and is one of the main reasons that sitting is so bad for you.
Instead, try to move around throughout the day. Do some stretches and simple exercises at your desk or take a walk around the office. Or you can try an under desk elliptical or treadmill machine to exercise while you are working.
Finally, don’t let your shoes get too worn out. They may still be comfortable, but the supports are likely worn down. This means that you may as well be standing flat footed without shoes at all. The frequency of new shoes depends greatly on the amount that you use them, but you should try to get a new pair every 6 months to a year after regular use.
Final Thoughts on Shoes at a Standing Desk
The consensus is that going barefoot is better than uncomfortable or unsupportive shoes, especially when combined with an anti-fatigue mat. However, if you are concerned about the health of your muscles, then it is best to have comfortable, supportive shoes while you're standing for more than a few minutes at a time. You should also alternate from standing to sitting regularly throughout the day.