Beat designer back pain with a standing desk

It may look a little odd, but using a standing desk can help prevent back pain

As a long time sufferer of chronic pain, including back pain, people are often surprised at my choice to use a standing desk. No matter who I mention it to, I always get asked the same questions:

1. Why would you want to stand all day?
2. Doesn’t that make your pain worse?
3. Are you crazy?

Why would I want to stand all day? Simple: because sitting all day was killing me. I'm not sure about your work habits, but it is not uncommon for me to spend 16+ hours a day working at my computer. Inevitably, by the end of the day, I could barely move.

Let’s face it, humans were not made for sitting. It is hardly a natural position. It puts unnecessary stress on our lower backs. It also causes problems with our necks, shoulders, legs, and for those of us who care, our butts. (Yes, I said butts, because even if you don't care about the health benefits of standing, you should do it purely for the cosmetic ones: it burns calories!)

Let’s face it, humans were not made for sitting

Whether or not you suffer from back pain right now, one day you probably will. And while you're probably reluctant to even consider standing at your desk, I strongly encourage you to give it a go. It's amazing how much better I feel since I did. Not only has my pain diminished, but my posture has improved and my concentration level has increased.

Of course, you probably won't be able to work with your desk like it is. There are two ways you can go. First, you can buy a specially made standing desk. Or you can convert your existing desk into one. It is a lot easier than you think - just follow these three simple steps...

01. Measure

Calculate the ideal height for your ergonomic desk, chair and keyboard at The Human Copyright: Ergotron Inc.

Because people vary in height, each person will require different desk heights. When you are measuring, remember that there are really only two key heights to consider: monitor height and keyboard height.

The desk, or keyboard height, should be roughly at the same level as your elbows. The monitor height should be eye level. And, if possible, should allow for tilting.

While researching standing desks, I came across this nifty online tool at The Human that can assist with the measurements.

02. Adjust

Use something sturdy and solid to lift up your desk

Once you have the measurements squared away, you can start scavenging for your lift-kit. In my case, I was able to achieve the exact lift I needed (approximately 10 inches) by using four cases of the childen's book I wrote, Happy Birthday Puppy. Yes, a good investment, indeed!

03. Stabilise

You're now set for a healthier lifestyle

Regardless of how you lift your desk, make sure it is sturdy. There is nothing worse then typing on your keyboard, and then having the entire desk in your lap.

Now stand back, and admire your handiwork because you are on your way to a healthier lifestyle!

Final thoughts

A standing desk will not prevent or cure back pain by itself, and is by no means an alternative for proper diet and exercise. I also recommend that you take frequent breaks. I keep a chair next to my desk for such breaks, and I walk every day (weather permitting).

Good luck with your desk. Hopefully you will have the same positive experience I did.

Words: Tammy Coron

Tammy Coron is an iOS developer, backend developer, web developer, writer, and illustrator. She blogs at Just Write Code.

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Have you used a standing desk? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below!