Did you know that sedentary jobs in America have increased by 83% since the 1950s, and only 20% of the workforce have physically active jobs?
Technology and modern conveniences have people sitting more than ever before. Sitting too much not only makes your back sore but can also seriously damage your health. If you're looking to transition to a sit-stand desk for your job, you're making a significant step toward improving your overall health.
But before you begin, there are important things to know before you leap. Keep reading this guide to learn the ins and outs of using your first sit-stand desk!
Overview of Sit-Stand Desks
The name says it all. Sit-stand desks are specialized desks that allow you to sit and stand while you work. As opposed to traditional standing desks, sit-stand desks give you the best of both worlds.
These desks also allow you to stand up and sit in intervals throughout the day, and you can adjust the height easily depending on the task you're working on
Benefits of Sit-Stand Desks
It's no secret that sitting all day is bad for your health. Sitting for long periods during the day leads to problems with weight gain and sore back muscles. It also increases your risk for diabetes and heart disease and is linked to premature death.
Sit-stand desks are a worthwhile investment for any workplace. Standing while you work has many health and work benefits, like:
- Better posture
- Reduced back pain
- Improved productivity
- Better mood
- Boosts your energy levels
- Lowers your risk of weight gain
- Lowers your blood sugar
Buying a Sit-Stand Desk
If your office is making the transition to sit-stand desks, you might be the one purchasing them or have a say in the desk you'll ultimately get to use.
You have a lot of different options when you're looking to purchase a sit-stand desk, depending on the amount of space you have. You can opt for a larger L-shaped standing desk. These types of desks come with a motorized lift system that adjusts the desk's height within seconds.
A great option to consider is the Electric CHANGE Desk which easily converts to a range of adjustable heights. It's one of the tallest standing desks available and is great for people up to 6'5."
When you're looking to purchase a sit-stand desk, you'll see different options, such as:
- Lift speed or how long it takes to move from a sitting to a standing position
- Manual vs. electrical
- Programmable height preferences and memory settings
- Weight capacity
To determine the best option for you, you'll need to figure out the weight of certain desktop items, like computers, phones, and other office equipment. You'll also need to consider your work environment and what type of desk would serve you best.
Finally, make sure to look closely at the memory settings. Memory settings allow you to program the correct standing and sitting height so you can quickly go back and forth. If you don't have this, you'll constantly have to find the right height each time you stand.
How to Use Your Sit-Stand Desk
It takes some time to get used to a sit-stand desk, so be patient with yourself while you make the transition. You'll also need to focus more on your body position and learn about ergonomic equipment options.
To start using your sit-stand desk, you'll need to take steps that include:
Alternate Between Standing and Sitting
It's easy to assume that once you own a sit-stand desk, you should automatically start standing all day. However, the opposite is true. It's best to start by standing for two hours daily and eventually work towards four hours daily.
You should also alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. Remember, too much of anything can be a bad thing, so you'll want to balance your standing and sitting times during the workday.
Position Your Sit-Stand Desk Correctly
Your next step in using a sit-stand desk is to find the correct standing height. Finding the right desk height and computer position is essential to maximize your comfort level and reduce your risk of injury.
Start by setting your sit-stand desk at approximately elbow height so your elbows rest comfortably on the desk at a 90-degree position. Your computer screen should be 20 to 28 inches from your face and at eye level.
Additionally, your computer screen should tilt upwards by approximately 20 degrees so that you don't need to lift your neck up or down to see your screen.
Adjust Your Wires and Cables
You likely don't think of this when using a traditional desk, but proper cable management is essential for sit-stand desks. Depending on your workstation, you'll probably have at least a few cables that will run under your sit-stand desk.
It's important to ensure your cables don't get caught in your desk when adjusting the height for standing and sitting. This can put a strain on your cables which can damage your equipment and even pull your entire computer off the desk.
So, be sure to figure out the best way to place your cables before you start using your sit-stand desk.
Adjust Your Keyboard and Mouse Position
To avoid wrist pain, you'll need to understand how to adjust your keyboard and mouse position accordingly.
While standing, your wrist should be tilted upwards when using your keyboard and mouse. When sitting, your wrist should be slightly above and parallel to your keyboard and mouse.
It's also a good idea to use a gel mouse pad and an adjustable keyboard stand to prevent problems with sore wrists.
Use Arm Supports to Reduce Tension
Arm supports consist of soft padding that you can attach to your desk. They're designed to reduce pressure on your wrist. Arm supports can also reduce your risk of developing neck and shoulder tension.
Finding an ergonomic chair with armrests for your sitting periods is also a good idea. Doing this allows you to rest your arms in a good position no matter how you use your sit-stand desk.
Arm supports are well worth the investment, especially If you've had neck and shoulder problems in the past.
Always Use Anti-Fatigue Mats
Anti-fatigue mats allow you to stand comfortably for longer and are designed for use with sit-stand desks.
They're typically made from molded foam and give you the cushion you need to stay comfortable while standing. Anti-fatigue mats reduce back pain and leg pain and improve blood flow.
You can even find anti-fatigue mates that are contoured to encourage regular movement while you're standing. Usually, they're sloped at the sides to allow you to elevate one or both of your feet. You'll also be able to stretch your legs and stand more comfortably for longer.
Consider Desk Balance Boards
You can also take a look at using standing desk balance boards. These boards are easy to use and allow you to practice balancing movements each day.
Desk balance boards are engineered to allow you to move forward, side-to-side, or even in a complete circle. You'll be able to move and stand more during the day as you work. You can even find combination desk balance boards and anti-fatigue mats.
Balance boards are a great option to consider and can help you get used to a sit-stand desk.
Maintain Proper Posture
Proper posture is critical if you want to use your sit-stand desk effectively. Maintaining good posture means you must train your body to sit and stand correctly.
It's too easy to fall into the habit of hunching your back and slouching your shoulders when using a conventional computer desk.
With sit-stand desks, your first priority is learning how to hold your shoulders in the proper position. It's important not to slouch over while standing at the desk. Make it a habit to keep your shoulders straight.
You can do shoulder rolls during the day when they start to feel tense. After a while, it will become a habit.
You'll also want to work on your posture during your sitting time. Be sure to sit with your back straight and shoulders back. Make sure your buttocks touch the back of the chair. You should also keep your feet flat on the floor and use a footstool so that your knees remain slightly higher than your hips.
Try not to remain in the same position for more than 30 minutes. Paying attention to your posture will keep you pain-free, allowing you to stand longer during the day.
Make Sure to Stand Correctly
When working on posture, pay close attention to how you're standing. Be sure to stand straight and keep your knees slightly bent. Stand with your feet pointing forward, and don't twist your body or lean on your desk.
It may feel awkward initially to maintain this position, but it won't take long before it feels natural.
Wear Comfortable Shoes
Remember, if you're used to sitting most of the day, comfortable shoes may not matter as much to you.
But when you switch to a sit-stand desk, you may also need to invest in new shoes. Good quality walking or running sneakers are your best bet if you can get away with it in your workplace. You could also consider wearing clogs, which are popular with healthcare workers since they offer excellent foot support.
It may also be a good idea to bring an extra pair of shoes in case your feet get sore. Some people also wear compression stockings to help minimize swelling and maintain adequate blood flow to the legs.
Take Frequent Breaks
While standing is better than sitting, you'll still need to remember to take frequent breaks during the day.
Keep in mind that you need to give your body time to adjust to using a sit-stand desk. You'll need to take short, frequent breaks to move and stretch.
If breaks don't come naturally, try setting reminders on your phone. You can also find free break reminder apps and stretching apps to download on your smartphone.
Address Existing Injuries
Since switching to a sit-stand desk is a massive step towards a healthier lifestyle, you should also take this time to address any existing injuries or pain issues.
Existing strains, chronic back pain, or neck problems can impact how well you'll be able to tolerate more standing. These types of injuries can discourage you when you're trying to make progress using your sit-stand desk.
Take care of your health by seeing a chiropractor or physical therapist to address any problems you have. Ultimately, you'll find using your new desk a much more comfortable experience all around.
Common Sit-Stand Desk Mistakes to Avoid
One of the biggest mistakes people make when first using a sit-stand desk is jumping right in and trying to stand for most of the day. Standing too long at first will only make you feel sore, tired, and discouraged.
Other common mistakes include:
- Not adjusting your desk to the correct height
- Not purchasing an anti-fatigue mat
- Standing still for most of the day
- Not taking the time to improve posture
- Not investing in an ergonomic chair
- Not positioning your keyboard and mouse correctly
- Buying a desk without memory settings
- Not allowing enough time to change your habits
All in all, it's important not to cut corners when you first start using a sit-stand desk. Remember, a sit-stand desk is a huge investment in your health. So, take the time to set up your desk correctly and invest in your comfort to ensure it will become a habit you can stick to.
Learning to Use Your Sit-Stand Desk
Now that you know more about using a sit-stand desk, making the transition will be much easier.
If you're still looking to find the perfect sit-stand desk for your workplace, you can turn to Uncaged Ergonomics for all your needs. We offer standing desks, anti-fatigue mats, balance boards, laptop stands, and more.
We look forward to helping you improve your overall health and well-being. Be sure to visit our website to find the best sit-stand desk for your workplace!