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The Two Most Important Factors To Get The Most From Your Sit-Stand Desk

June 10, 2022

The Two Most Important Factors To Get The Most From Your Sit-Stand Desk

By Jordan Lees.
Jordan Lees is a qualified physiotherapist and the Founder of UpDown Desks. He is passionate about the health and wellbeing of office workers.
So, you've gone and purchased a sit-stand desk to improve your health and wellbeing in the office. There are now a two key points to address to help make sure you get the most out of your standing desk. These are:

  1. How high should your standing desk be?
  2. How long should you stand and sit for?

This 3-minute article will provide you with a succinct answer to these two questions, enabling you to get the most from your standing desk.

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How High Should Your Standing Desk Be?

There is not an exact science to how high your desk should be when you sit or stand, and you should always consider any current injuries you have, or anatomical variances that are particular to you.

​However, a safe guideline is to have the desk at a height that sees your elbows being just above (i.e. 0 - 1cm) the top of the desktop when you are typing on the keyboard. This is typically 90-100 degrees at the elbow. 

This height works for most people. At this height, you reduce the chances of the forearms and wrists digging into the desk if the elbows are too low. However, it is not too high that it results in increased strain on the shoulders due to the forearms not being adequately supported on the desk.

How Long Should You Sit & Stand For?

The majority of injuries and discomforts that people experience at their desk are accumulative in nature, and typically arise as a result of prolonged postures. 

Those progressing from a standard desk to a sit-stand desk may be inclined to try and stand all day. However, this is not necessary.

Standing in the one spot all day is harder than you might think. Indeed, walking for two hours is easier on the body than just standing still for two hours. Further, prolonged standing is a prolonged posture in itself. Therefore, the possibility of accumulative-based injuries and discomforts developing is very real if you try and stand all day.

Moreover, when you stand, you rely on your postural muscles to keep you upright. These are deep muscles that lay close to your spine and are likely to be somewhat deconditioned if you've been sitting at your desk for 8-10 hours per day for who knows how long. 

With this in mind, the best tip for using your sit-stand desk is to switch between sitting and standing regularly throughout the working day. This might look like 10-15 minutes standing every 2 hours for some, or 20-30 minutes standing every 1 hour for others. The important thing is that by changing postures, you are changing where the physical stresses accumulate. 

A good idea is to work out your sitting and standing thresholds. This is the length of time that you can comfortably sit or stand for at your desk before you feel the need to change position. Once you know this time, never allow yourself to sit or stand for more than 75% of your threshold.

By sticking to this rule you will significantly reduce the likelihood of ever spending enough time in the one position to develop an accumulative-based injury or discomfort. 

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