Standing Desk Ergonomics

standing desk ergonomics (UC Davis)Standing to work presents some unique ergonomic challenges. Just as at a conventional desk, you’ll want to have your monitor, keyboard, mouse or track pad, and other gear arranged properly, but you’ll always need to account for unique considerations that come with standing.

Here are some key standing-desk ergonomic tactics to apply as you work standing up:

  • Use a standing mat. Regardless of the floor surface your desk is on, a padded standing mat can protect your feet.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. Some stylish shoes can cause discomfort when you stand. If you need to wear nice shoes for meetings or your own style, be sure to keep a pair of comfortable standing shoes at your desk.
  • Elevate one foot with a foot rest. Simply lifting one foot a bit changes your posture enough to protect your low back from the potentially uncomfortable dynamics of long-term standing.
  • Adjust your desk to the right height. If you have to flex or extend your wrists to reach your keyboard, you’re just inviting a repetitive strain injury. Make sure your desk is adjusted so that you can operate your keyboard and pointing devices without bending your wrists. This can vary depending on the angle of your keyboard, but generally it means adjust your desk surface to keyboard height.
  • Adjust your monitor to the right position. Depending on the size of your monitor, it should be somewhere between 20 and 40 inches away from your eyes. One rule of thumb is to position it about an arm’s length away. The bottom of the monitor should be just a bit closer to you than the top (sloping the screen like this encourages better neck and head posture). The top of the monitor should be a bit below eye level.
  • Keep your knees relaxed as you stand. Don’t lock out (hyperextend) your knees. Instead, bend your knees just a bit to keep your leg muscles lightly engaged.
  • Don’t stand still. Shift side to side. Rock back and forth. Pace or dance in place. Sink into a shallow lunge. Static standing can be almost as bad for you as sitting. The more you fidget and move as you stand, the longer you’ll be able to do it comfortably and productively.
  • Take regular breaks. The the posture-monitor company Lumo has said, “Your Best Posture is Your Next Posture.” Standing can help fight sitting disease, but it has its own problems, so take a break to sit or walk (or squat) every half hour or so.

Illustration credit: UC Davis