Top 8 Standing Desk Mistakes & How to Correct Them
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Top 8 Standing Desk Mistakes & How to Correct Them

|Sep 11, 2018

You probably know by now that sitting all day is bad for you. In fact, it has been dubbed “the new smoking” by various experts in response to one study that discovered that too much sitting could increase your risk of death, regardless of whether you workout regularly.

If you’re concerned about your health, like most people, you find this information shocking and you feel like you need to do something about it. So you do what everyone is doing right now: acquire a standing desk, stand-up desk, sit-stand desk, or whatever you like to call them. You're now assured of getting much work done and staying healthier while at it.

But you forget one crucial thing: standing all day can be detrimental to your health as well, especially if you fail to use the standing desk correctly. You start to feel pain, numbness, and soreness in your legs; you lose focus; you begin to feel some discomfort in your shoulders; and more.

The good news is that you can bid goodbye to all that misery and enjoy the maximum benefits of using a standing desk by simply avoiding standing desk mistakes. That’s the aim of this article.

Majority of people who complain about standing desks and eventually give up on them do so because they have not learned how to use them correctly.

Standing desks truly work, and they work well for the right user. There’s plenty of evidence to support this claim. For instance, a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health showed that giving several desk jockeys (DJs) adjustable height desks, which they could rise to stand and lower to sit, helped to reduce their sedentary time by over three hours a week. It also increased their energy and well-being, while decreasing appetite and fatigue.

Another study discovered that call center employee who used sit-stand desks became 50 percent more productive than those who used regular desks. One study even claims that standing desks can be vital for weight maintenance.

Clearly, what’s stopping most people from enjoying the obvious benefits of standing desks is how they are using them. Let’s correct some of these mistakes with this article.

Standing Too Long

This problem mostly affects new users who have recently moved from sitting to standing. They tend to believe that the substitute to sitting all day, is standing all day. Although standing has its benefits, standing all day is not any better than standing all day.

A new user should slowly transition to standing, but ensure he takes a seat now and then.

Also, the process of adjusting your standing desk to the correct height so you can maintain a good posture can be a wee bit tedious.

If your desk doesn’t have memory settings or a simple way to return to your regular standing or sitting height, you tend to struggle to find the right height every time you want to switch from sitting to standing, which is not easy. As a result, you may opt to stand too long to avoid interrupting your work.

The Solution

Studies recommend that, in the beginning, you should purpose to stand for two hours and eventually transition to standing four hours a day, switching between sitting and standing.

Another solution recommended by Professor Alan Hedge is the 20:8:2 regimen. It means you sit for 20 minutes (while maintaining good posture), stand for 8 minutes, and move or stretch while standing for the next 2 minutes.  

Professor Hedge adds that switching between sitting and standing throughout your workday helps to eradicate the risks associated with standing or sitting for extended periods.

Getting a standing desk with memory settings is another excellent solution. Before you make a purchase, carefully examine the features of your standing desk’s control unit. You should only settle for one with memory settings.

For example, the SmartDesk 2 features a programmable button interface that allows you to create up four custom presets that let you switch between your ideal sitting and standing positions effortlessly.

But if you don’t have a say on what standing desk your company purchases, and they provide you with a desk that doesn’t have memory settings, request HR to fit the desks with new control units.

Most standing desks are now being designed to incorporate up to four memory settings. Although standing desk converters lack this feature, they still allow you to preset your ideal standing height and return to it every time.

Top 8 Standing Desk Mistakes & How to Correct Them

Improper Desk Height: Your Desk-Height Is Either Too Low Or Too High

The fundamentals of proper stand-up desk ergonomics start with setting the correct height. That’s because the height of your desk determines the position of your monitor and keyboard. The way you position all these items has a significant impact on your wrist, neck, and upper back comfort.

The Solution:

Position your elbows to at least a 90-degree angle and close to your body, and raise your desk as high as your elbows. Also, place the monitor at or below eye level. This alone could make a huge difference, if you’re having a hard time with your standing routine or if you feel your standing desk isn’t serving you as well as it should.

Using monitor arms specifically designed for use with stand-up desks aids to adjust the computer monitor height independently from the keyboard height.

The Computer Screen Is Too Low

Improper positioning of computer screens is also a leading cause of upper back and neck pain. Most people using standing desks have set their computer screens too low, forcing them to look down while standing.

This particular problem can also cause discomfort while sitting. Those using a laptop at their stand-up desks are also affected. Placing a laptop flat on the surface of the desk while standing makes it extremely difficult to maintain proper posture since you’ll likely be forced to raise the height of the desk too high to see the screen well.

For this reason, you’ll develop problems with your typing position and arms. This often results in pain and discomfort, hence reduced productivity.

The Solution:

Raise the monitor height as high as possible, and slightly tilt back the screen so you can see it clearly without having to lean forward and angle your head down. For a laptop screen, it’s highly recommended that you consider purchasing a laptop stand that’s built together with a secondary mouse and keyboard. This will help you raise the bottom of your laptop screen off the desk by about 8”.

Standing Desk Mistakes

Not Switching Standing Positions Frequently

As opposed to sitting, standing allows you to move and change your standing positions as much as you like. It’s common to see people standing all day while maintaining a fixed position throughout. That’s just wrong.

Moving around helps increase blood flow, thus increasing your focus and promoting your health and well being. More often than not, standing for extended periods in a fixed position results in the foot and joint pain.

The Solution:

The solution is to incorporate as much movement variability as possible while standing. This can be achieved in several ways. One is to use the legs of your chair or a footstool to stand in a stepping position. You can also switch from left to right.

Alternatively, you could also maintain a normal standing position and sway left and right. Another way to incorporate movement is to move around when taking calls.

Some anti-fatigue mats are also designed with bumps that allow you to move and place your feet in different positions while standing. Always strive to find new ways to switch up your standing position after every 20 minutes.


Wearing Uncomfortable Shoes

For most employees, it’s usually a priority to look the part; to look stunning. For this reason, footwear comfort normally comes in second. For instance, high heels look good on women, but a good number of women will admit they don’t usually feel as comfortable as they look.

If you sit for extended periods, the comfort of your footwear may not be a big problem, but if you use a standing desk, the choice of your footwear plays a significant role in your comfort. The same applies to the surface of the floor you’re standing on.

Improper footwear does not only affect the comfort of your legs and feet, but it’s effect also spreads to other parts of the body such as the back and shoulders.

The Solution

Set aside some time to research the most suitable footwear options for you, especially if you’re looking to stand for extended periods at your desk. High-quality, comfortable shoes are available in various styles, just choose the one that suits you. Alternatively, you could wear your normal shoes, and change into a pair of comfortable shoes at work.

8 Standing Desk Mistakes

Standing On A Hard Surface

The fun of using a standing desk slowly wears off the more you continue standing on a hard surface. such as hardwood floors, concrete, or tile. In fact, some commercial grade carpets are also not good enough. Standing on such surfaces all day leads to joint pain and discomfort.

The Solution

When you don’t have control over the floor surface or it’s too expensive to revamp, it’s advisable to use anti-fatigue mats or footrests. Apart from providing your feet with a comfortable place to stand, some of them also allow you to place your feet in different positions for added convenience.

Simple anti-fatigue mats cost about $30 whereas high-end options that provide more standing position variability cost around $90. Both these options offer you a tremendous improvement over a hard surface when you stand, making it an excellent investment if your floor surface is too hard.

Typing With Your Wrists Bent Upwards

The ergonomics of wrist placement while typing at the keyboard is a major issue as well. If you work primarily on a computer, muscle and joint pain often result from improper wrist placement while typing.

Consequently, if you spend extended periods typing, you should strive to make reducing wrist pain a priority.

The Solution:

To mitigate this, always make sure your wrists rest flat at an angle of at least 180 degrees. If you have adjusted your desk height to the ideal position, but your wrists still tend to bend upwards, it’s recommended to purchase a keyboard pad to help you raise your wrist. In addition to lowering joint and muscle pain, you will also get extra comfort as a bonus.

You Are Not Using An Ergonomic Chair

Even the fully converted standers still need to sit for a significant amount of time during their workday.

Sitting is known to subject your lower back to more strain compared to standing. For this reason, it’s recommended that you get an ergonomic office chair, such as the ErgoChair 2 or AvoChair, at your stand-up desk to ensure you are not affected by a neck, lower back, and upper back pain. Don’t let your sitting time neutralize all the benefits you accrue from standing.

The Solution

Be sure to purchase a chair that possesses the major features of ergonomic chairs. Ideally, it should have a soft seat surface, adequate lumbar support, adequate thigh support, adjustable armrests, and more. Although an ergonomic chair may be a little bit more expensive, it will last longer and help you take out the pain of sitting at your standing desk.


These are some of the major mistakes people make when it comes to standing desks. As you can see, if you don’t work to eliminate these mistakes, you might end up swapping your old health risks for new ones. Having a proper understanding of what your body requires for maximum vitality and health, and acquiring the right accessories helps you reap numerous benefits from your standing desk.

You shouldn’t just stop at purchasing a standing desk, that’s just the beginning. The most important thing is to educate yourself on how to use the standing desk well to eradicate health risks and gain abundantly.

Now that you have been enlightened about standing desk mistakes and their solutions, you’re ready to start enjoying the benefits of your standing desks.

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