Here Are 5 Helpful Tips For Getting Started With A Standing Desk

These five tips will help you smoothly make the transition to using a standing desk. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you are patient and work your way into it, you will be able to enjoy the benefits of a standing desk for years to come.

1. Ease into the Transition

It’s very important to ease into standing at your computer. If you’ve been sitting all day and not very active this is especially true. It’s not uncommon for people who begin using a standing desk to initially feel some discomfort in their feet and ankles, their lower back and sometimes their shoulders. Much of this is simply getting used to a new position. But just like you wouldn’t go out and run a marathon on the first day you decided to take up jogging you don’t want to try and stand all day at your new standing desk.

2. Take Regular Breaks

One great benefit of a standing desk is it’s easy to walk up to and walk away from it. When you first get started go for a short walk around the room or down the hall every 20 minutes or so. Alternating between sitting and standing is also a good idea. Pick some tasks that you decide to always do sitting down, like taking a phone call or reading the mail. This will break up your routine. If you have a tablet or use your phone to check email you can decide to always check email sitting down as well.

You may want to consider alternating with and without a small footstool. Placing one foot on a stool changes the muscles you use in your legs and lower back. This is why they have floor rails at the bar, so you can put one foot up and shift the load to different muscles. You can use a small footstool, some books, or even a yoga block. Experiment to find the right height that works for you.

3. Wear Comfortable Shoes or No Shoes at All

It’s very important to wear comfortable shoes or no shoes at all if you’re going to be standing very much. You might want to keep a pair of comfortable shoes by the desk that you can use. You might also want to experiment with “barefoot” or “minimalist” shoes. I like them because when I fidget and move around my feet are not trapped in any one position by my shoes. They let me move my toes and shift my weight around.

4. Consider a Padded Mat

When I first started using my standing desk I was standing on a bare wood floor without shoes on. This was not a good idea. The bottoms of my feet began to ache. I quickly put a small rug under my feet and that helped a bit. During the course of the first week I eventually worked my way up to a small rug with six layers of carpet pad stacked underneath it. That worked great. Eventually I’ll probably consider getting an anti-fatigue mat because the carpet pads shift around a bit and I have to periodically restack them.

You also may want to use a padded mouse rest and/or padded keyboard rest. A few months after I started using a standing desk I noticed I was leaning on my mousing wrist, which got a bit uncomfortable. A padded rest behind my mouse pad fixed the issue nicely.

5. Move Around and Fidget

One of the huge advantages of the standing desk, in my opinion, is that you’re free to move around and fidget. In school they always told you to sit still, but now everyone knows that’s not good for you. I routinely shift my weight from one foot to the other and gently wobble from front to back. I also fidget and bend one or both knees and twist around. Periodically I do a few stretching exercises. Here are the ones I like the most. Remember to start gently. Use the stretch as a time to pay attention to your body and give your mind a mini break from work. You’ll feel more alert afterwards.

Hip Circles. Bend your elbows and put both hands on your hips. Keep both feet flat on the floor and lead with your head. Move your head in a small circle and gradually make the circle larger by bending more and more at the waist. Be gentle and alternate directions.

Side Stretch. Reach your arms over your head and bend one arm to grab the opposite elbow. Gently pull with your bent arm and bend at the waist to get a side stretch. Imagine the stretch continuing smoothly from your feet up to your raised hand in one big arc. Switch your arms to the opposite side and repeat.

Thigh Stretch. Rest one hand comfortably on something for support and bend your opposite knee so your foot is behind you. Grab it with your free hand. Gently pull your foot up to stretch your thigh. Repeat on the other side.