Standing Desk Ergonomics: Do’s and Don’ts for Back Pain Relief

Standing Desk Ergonomics: Do’s and Don’ts for Back Pain Relief


In recent years, standing desks have become more and more popular. The reason? People are spending too much time sitting, which increases risk of back pain. Standing desks can help. However, to get the full benefits, it must be used correctly.

Here’s how to do it right:

  • Monitor height, foot placement, and body positioning are all important.
  • This guide will tell you how to get them right.
  • And, how often to switch between sitting and standing. That way, you can get the most out of your workstation setup.

Benefits of Standing Desks

Standing desks are superb for your posture and for reducing back pain. They are comfy, ergonomically designed and can encourage great posture and alignment. Also, they give the user a variety of health benefits.

In this article, we will see the benefits of using a standing desk and tips to get the best out of it:

Improved Circulation

A standing desk has lots of benefits for body and mind. It helps circulation. Sitting for too long can reduce blood flow to legs and feet, making them tired, sore, and crampy. Standing up at your desk helps with blood flow throughout the body. This helps oxygen reach the brain and boosts energy, focus, creativity, productivity, and memory. It also lowers stress hormones, like cortisol, which makes you feel more relaxed and lowers stress.

Increased Productivity

Switching to standing throughout the day brings physical, mental, and social benefits. This includes an increase in productivity! It comes with a posture linked to an active lifestyle.

When you stand, your body strengthens muscles that don’t get used while sitting. This reduces fatigue and encourages movement. Plus, increased blood flow brings more oxygen to your hands, so concentration is better.

Studies show that switching from sitting to standing increases physical and mental strength. Plus, people focus better and take fewer breaks.

Relief from Back Pain

Standing desks have multiple advantages for people experiencing back pain due to bad ergonomics. These include:

  • Better posture. Poor posture can hurt your spine. Standing desks aid in posture while standing.
  • Less fatigue. Long sitting can give you an achy back and shoulders. Standing at a desk decreases this.
  • Better blood flow. Standing, instead of sitting, boosts blood flow throughout your body and diminishes any tightness that can cause back pain.
  • Greater focus. Standing desks also encourage alertness and involvement in work tasks, leading to improved concentration and productivity.
  • Elevated metabolism. Standing at a desk gets you moving more during the day, which helps raise your metabolism (burn calories) in the long run.

By using a standing desk with the correct ergonomic safety design principles – like setting it to the correct height for your body – you may be able to appreciate these health benefits without aggravating existing back problems.

Ergonomics for Standing Desks

Ergonomics is a must when using a standing desk. It prevents physical stress on your body, helps with posture and reduces back pain. Here are some tips to ensure you use your standing desk ergonomically:

  • Do’s:
  • Don’ts:

Check them out!


Do you plan to buy a standing desk? Ergonomics is key! It’s about setting up your area to fit your body’s natural posture. This can stop back pain in the future. Here are the do’s:

  • Adjust your desk and chair. Place the monitor at eye level and the keyboard below your elbow.
  • Use an anti-fatigue mat. This helps reduce strain on your body.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor. If needed, use a stepped stool or platform to adjust.
  • Use staples for storage. This decreases strain from lifting heavy items.
  • Monitor your posture. Don’t hunch over – this could cause muscle fatigue or chronic pain.

Adjust the Desk Height

Adjusting the height of your standing desk is important for good ergonomics and back health. You can lower the desk to just a few inches above sitting level, or raise it up to standing level. The correct height is personal, but usually corresponds to forearms parallel to the floor when typing. Do not rest your forearms against the edge of the desktop, as it can cause bursitis.

A guide recommends setting the adjustable desk 6 inches below elbow height, 18-30 inches above floor level. Stand closer if short, and further away if tall. When typing, elbows and shoulders should be slightly bent, and the keyboard should be at waist level.

Alternate between sitting and standing postures. Adjust both heights so that they are comfortable while actively engaging in each posture. Also, the angle of your arm while typing is important. Make sure the arms are not pointed down, as this can put stress on wrists and back due to awkward postures from typing on tilted keyboards or mice too far from the body core. Decide on a suitable angle based on past experiences for prolonged performance.

Use an Anti-Fatigue Mat

An anti-fatigue mat can give extra support to your feet when standing at your desk. They are made from materials like rubber foam and come in various shapes, thicknesses, and sizes. When shopping for a mat, consider how often you will need to replace it, as some materials wear down faster.

When selecting a mat, make sure your feet don’t sink into it. This can cause instability and more fatigue. Place the mat in front of your desk or equipment, and you can move it during the day if one foot feels more fatigue than the other. Make sure there’s enough room between the edge of the mat and furniture, so there’s no risk of tripping or slipping on something that could roll onto its surface:

  • Check the material and consider how often it needs to be replaced.
  • Make sure your feet don’t sink into the mat.
  • Place the mat in front of your desk or equipment.
  • Move the mat during the day if one foot feels more fatigue than the other.
  • Make sure there’s enough room between the edge of the mat and furniture.

Utilize a Monitor Arm

A monitor arm is a great way to optimise the ergonomics of a standing desk. It lets you adjust the height and angle of your monitor easily. Plus, it gives you more space on the desk. This can be useful if you need to refer to other stuff while typing. The extra room can also be used for paper files, books, calculators and artwork.

When using a monitor arm, keep your eyes level with the top edge of the screen. Adjust the height so that your forearms stay parallel with the desktop. Your arms should never reach above elbow level. This will reduce muscular fatigue.

Make sure you stay 18-24 inches away from the screen. This distance may vary depending on size. Leave enough space behind it to minimise any glare.


When using a standing desk, keep an upright spinal alignment. Don’t hunch or slouch. Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart. Make sure your elbows aren’t resting on the desk. Bending too far over or standing too close can cause tension and inflammation.

Avoid staying in one position too long; it can lead to fatigue-related discomfort. Adjust the height so you can switch between sitting and standing. Take frequent breaks. Get away from the desk and walk around or do light stretching. This will keep you alert and prevent strain injury.

Don’t Stand for Too Long

Use a standing desk? Make sure to mix it up with movement. Studies show that even short bursts of activity help to reduce pain and fatigue. Alternate between sitting and standing – 20 minutes standing every hour. Even better, stand for 30 mins each hour. Set a timer! Don’t stand for more than 2 hours without taking a break. Soreness will set in if you don’t.

To spice things up more:

  • Stretch while at your desk.
  • Take regular walk breaks.
  • Climb the stairs now and then.
  • Use a foot rest when seated.

Don’t Ignore Posture

When using a standing desk, it’s essential to think about your posture. Bad posture when sitting can lead to back pain and shoulder fatigue. The same applies to when standing for long periods.

Remember these few key things:

  • Tuck your chin in
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed
  • Keep your arms close to your body with elbows flexed at 90°
  • Place your feet hip-width apart and parallel
  • Shift weight evenly between each foot and engage your core muscles. This helps support your spine and reduces strain on tired back muscles.

If you lean to one side, use cushions or pillows to adjust the height and tilt angle of the desk or monitor. Pay attention to the monitor height too; it should be level with your eyes. Doing this can help reduce muscular strain and improve circulation, preventing fatigue in the long run.

Don’t Wear Heels

Research has shown that wearing heels at a desk can lead to back pain. Heels cause the pelvis to tilt, which affects posture and puts strain on the lower back muscles. So, if fashion trends must be kept up-with, opt for wedged heels instead of stilettos.

Shoes with proper support, padding, shock absorption and stability features are ideal for office environments. It’s also good to wear well-fitted shoes and limit the wearing of high heels if ergonomics are important.


To summarize, more standing time + following good ergonomic practices can help to reduce back pain. Finding the best balance of sitting + standing is a must for those with back issues. Making a few small changes, such as setting the desk to the right height, finding the right posture + adding support (like a footrest or chair) can make a big difference.

If you can’t figure out the right setup, contact an ergonomist or physical therapist. It may take some trial + error, but once you find the right setup, you should experience less back pain!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a standing desk?

A: A standing desk is a desk that is designed to be used while standing rather than sitting.

Q: What are the benefits of using a standing desk?

A: The benefits of using a standing desk include improved posture, increased energy and concentration levels and reduced risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Q: How do I set up my standing desk correctly?

A: To set up your standing desk correctly, you should adjust the desk height so that your elbows are at a 90-degree angle and your eyes are level with the top of your monitor. You should also stand on an anti-fatigue mat to reduce muscle strain.

Q: Can I use a standing desk if I have back pain?

A: Yes, a standing desk can be a great way to relieve back pain, as it encourages you to maintain proper posture and reduces pressure on your spine. However, it is important to start slowly and gradually build up your standing time to avoid causing further discomfort.

Q: Do I need to take breaks when using a standing desk?

A: Yes, it is important to take regular breaks when using a standing desk to avoid fatigue and muscle strain. Experts recommend taking a break every 30 minutes to sit down or stretch.

Q: Are there any exercises I can do to improve my posture when using a standing desk?

A: Yes, there are a number of exercises you can do to improve your posture when using a standing desk, including shoulder blade squeezes, neck stretches and calf raises.

the back recovery program by alex larsson
Jane Smith is a natural health enthusiast on a mission to uncover effective methods for achieving pain-free living. Through her personal journey with chronic back pain, she has become well-versed in holistic approaches such as yoga, Pilates, and essential oils.

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