Children around the world benefit from standup desks

by: Paul Petrequin

So you’ve got your standing desk – great! Now what?

Whether it’s the ergonomically and hyperbolically engineered wonder desk at your office or the pile of phonebooks and overturned box at home, you’ve gotten out of the death machine designed to kill you and into a better, healthier posture. But don’t let the elevation lull you into thinking the journey is over, it’s up to you to make sure that you are tailoring your body and workspace to maximize your new benefits.

First – how to stand. As with sitting, there’s good posture and bad posture. Even out of the chair, you need to be sure you are correcting your stance to avoid the same hazards that got you out of sitting in the first place. A quick checklist of tips to be conscious of throughout the day:

  • Keep your shoulders back and relaxed in a neutral position. Avoid having them pressed forward aggressively or retracted so that your shoulder blades are engaged. Ideally your shoulders should be in alignment with the rest of your body.
  • Engage your core and glutes. This will help keep your hips and pelvis in a desirable position and avoid overarching or rounding your back, which in turn causes the stress you’ll experience with poor sitting posture. This doesn’t require keeping these muscles turned on all day, but take notice and make corrections throughout to avoid the slouch. Having a foot rest or platform to rest a leg on can also help with fatigue
  • Keep your feet shoulder width apart with toes pointed forward, weight balanced between the balls of your feet and heels.

Next, be sure your desk is tailored to your specific needs and body type. In addition the posture mentioned above, this also means catering to above the shoulders as well, i.e. your neck and eye alignment. Ideally, you’ll want to be about two feet from your computer monitor and staring at it straight-on, using a 20 degree upward tilt to help eyes and glare. Elbows should be at a 90-degree angle so you aren’t overstraining your arms or ligaments reaching your workspace, which is easily reached with an adjustable desk, but if you are taking the DIY route you can certainly get within the right parameters.

Also, get a floor mat. Most occupations that have to stand all day as part of the job (think cashiers) use floor mats or some type of gel service, so trust the experts and get a surface other than your unwashed office carpet. In addition to the benefits of floor mats, they also make it easier to shift weight or incorporate leg exercises to ensure circulation and good posture. Additionally, they will make your life a lot more comfortable. Of course, the mat may only be as the shoes treading on them, so be sure to treat your feet to comfortable soles – if you don’t have a set office shoes that allow you some relief from otherwise formal attire, now might be the time. This is also your daily reminder that it is never acceptable to wear Crocs.

Lastly, move! Stretching and walking around during your day when you can always helps to get circulation moving. There’s not shortage of ways to get in a few extra movements during office hours, and corporate healthcare initiatives on the rise. Even if you don’t like the idea of walking the stairs with Chad from accounting (really, who does?), you can probably get some leeway with your own routine so long as you can demonstrate its wellness benefits. Having a standing desk will go a long way to demonstrate you’re serious about changing your office habits for the better, so go for it!