I’ve been using my standing desk (or ‘height-adjustable desk’ as I should call it!) for just over a year now and, although I’ve found it an incredible addition to my working environment, it can lead to certain issues with my legs, back and neck.
I have experienced several standing desk problems, all of which are minor and certainly should not stop you from buying a standing desk.
I know this may sound strange given all the media hype and the idea that ‘sitting is the new smoking’, but doing anything repetitive for an extended period of time is going to cause you problems.
The old saying ‘you can have too much of a good thing’ is certainly true here with standing at your desk.
Standing Desk Problems I Have Had
So, without further ado, below is an outline of the most common problems I’ve found while using a standing desk and how I’ve overcome them along the way.
Back ache and stiffness
I’ve found that when using my standing desk for an extended amount of time, I feel increased strain in my back.
Most people associated back ache with long periods of sitting or heavy lifting and other physically demanding work.
Because a standing desk requires you to stand dead still on the spot for sometimes hours on end, this can cause problems.
If you think about it, this makes perfect sense – our bodies are designed to move freely and nimbly, hunting and gathering for survival.
We haven’t evolved over millennia simply to stand still staring at a screen!
Solution #1 for Back Ache from My Standing Desk
The first and most obvious thing to do to help reduce back ache is to take regular breaks.
I am a huge fan of the Pomodoro Technique: 25 mins on, 5 mins break. I highly recommend you check out either tomato-timer.com or get the Strick Workflow extension if you use Google Chrome browser.
Keeping the regular timings means I get to take sitting breaks (sounds funny, doesn’t it?!)
This way, not only do I feel I’ve earned my sitting time, I also appreciate it and take some of the load off my back
Solution #2 for Back Ache from My Standing Desk
The second thing I’ve started doing is using a foam roller.
I currently use this foam roller for back stiffness from my standing desk.
I’ve found it gives an immediate release of the tension in my back and it feels great.
One thing is that it’s worth checking out how to use them properly before lying on the thing. That’s because if you don’t use it when you are properly aligned or have poor posture, it could even make things worse!
It’s simple enough to use but just take your time getting used to it. Those with chronic back conditions or disc problems should seek out further information online to see if it’s right for them.
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Aching Feet, Ankles, Legs and Knees
When I started using the standing desk, I was often wearing only slippers or no footwear at all as I have mine at home.
Although I usually walk around my house in this way, this turned out to be cause another standing desk problem for me. I found that my feet, ankles, legs or knees (not all at once) would start to ache from the strain.
Solution #1 for Aching Legs & Feet from My Standing Desk
Unsurprisingly, once I wore proper shoes while using my standing desk, this problem stopped happening.
It feels a little strange wearing my shoes while working at home but that one simple change has made a huge difference to my standing desk experience.
I now choose to wear my sport shoes as I feel they give me the most comfort and support out of all my shoes. Also, almost all the pain went away after making this change.
This standing desk problem was actually noted in a research journal I was reading about standing desks. In the trial, the researchers told all staff at the office trialling the desks that they needed to wear proper footwear. Several weeks later, the only person who had any problems making the transition to a standing desk was the lady who insisted on wearing high heels! Not a good idea!
Solution #2 for Aching Legs & Feet from My Standing Desk
Later on, I decided to buy a mat to support my feet even further. As I have laminate flooring at home, I felt that the hard floor was adding to the discomfort.
After reading up online, I bought an anti-fatigue mat. This is simply a foam mat which helps reduce the strain on your feet and ankles when standing on a hard floor.
They are common behind bars as bar staff have to stand for such long hours.
My advice is to avoid a branded one as they are usually double the price. Go for an ergonomic but not as well-known brand and you should get the same results.
Neck, Shoulder & Wrist Problems
I also find (still haven’t fully corrected this one!) that I lean on my desk a lot, perhaps to take some of the strain from standing.
From doing this, I have noticed that I have had increased tension in my neck, shoulder and wrist.
Solution for Neck & Shoulder Pain from my Standing Desk
For the issue of shoulder and neck pain, I have started to use a T-point roller.
This cost around $14 and is very small. Its design means you can easily massage all the pain points on your own neck and shoulders, even around the back.
It is quite stern and provides a sports massage feel.
I have found it to be good for relieving the tension.
— stephenbeale (@stephenbeale) January 13, 2017
Solution for Wrist Pain from my Standing Desk
I don’t if I am the only person who has this wrist issue but I know it is caused from me leaning on it.
I bought a wrist support pad although I can’t see it online at the minute. That said, I’m sure almost any of the ones available online would do the job as it is the least technical of all the things listed here.
I’ve found this to help also and would recommend one for anyone with similar pain.
Round-up: Solutions for Standing Desk Problems
- Foam roller for back ache or back stiffness
- Supportive Shoes (sports shoes ideal)
- T-point roller for neck and shoulder muscles
- Anti-fatigue mat for leg and ankle strain
- Wrist support pad for pain from leaning
- Regular breaks
Hopefully after using at least some of the techniques suggested above you will no longer have any standing desk problems.
If problems continue, leave me a comment below and I’ll get back to you!
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