There has been a lot of talk about sit-stand desks lately, but a lot of the talk is false! Instead of letting you go on believing the myths you have heard out there, I will tell you the real facts about sit-stand desks:
MYTH #1: A sit-stand desk is a saving grace. Owning one means your body will be taken care of while you work.
FACT: A sit-stand desk is a tool that enables you to maintain your health, focus on your work, increase your productivity, and energize your well-being. But just because you own a sit-stand desk, does not mean you are getting the most out of it. Like with any tool, you have to use it properly to get its benefits.
MYTH #2: Working at a sit-stand desk helps you maintain neutral posture throughout the day.
FACT: A sit-stand desk must be properly adjusted for your body type and height (both sitting height and standing height) to help you achieve neutral posture. Here are some tips:
- All of your work tools must be level. For example, your keyboard and mouse need to be side by side
- Monitors should be adjusted to the correct position to maintain your posture
- Set up your desk so that you can utilize your entire work surface without twisting around the extended keyboard and mouse tray and reaching to get what you need
- Opt for a desk that is easy to adjust so that you are encouraged to move throughout the day
- Remember that adjusting your sitting height is just as important as adjusting your standing height
MYTH #3: Sitting is bad for you. Standing is good for you.
FACT: Movement is good for you, and arming yourself with adjustable ergonomic furniture gives you the opportunity to take responsibility and make it work for you and your body. Standing gives you the freedom to move when you want to, easily.
Once your unit is properly adjusted for your body, here are other things you need to remember:
- Don’t just sit or just stand – alternate between the two
- Move as much as possible: take breaks, walk, stretch, and exercise
- Hydrate with lots of water throughout the day
- Face people when you talk to them
MYTH #4: A sit-stand desk is everything you need to feel good at the office.
FACT: Sit-stand desks have many benefits, including:
- Less aches and pain
- Less fidgeting
- Better concentration
- More efficient
- Feel better at the end of the day
- Fewer errors
- More energy
- Better overall quality of life
MYTH #5: Wrists, necks,shoulders and knees magically feel better at a sit-stand desk
FACT: No magic is involved, you must take action to position your body properly to alleviate tension:
- Place your hands on your keyboard and notice the angle of your elbows – it should be 90 degrees when your shoulders are relaxed. If it is not, raise or lower the desk accordingly.
- When seated, your hips should be level with your knees (or slightly above them)
- Move your body closer to the edge of the desk
- Position your monitor close enough and high enough so your head is level and not poking forward or looking downward
MYTH #6: Sit-stand desks are prohibitively expensive
FACT: There are a number of sit-to-stand desk units, sometimes referred to as a desk mounts, because they mount or sit on your desk.
When you’re on a tighter budget, this may be able to serve your needs.
Some things to be aware of when selecting the right desk mount:
- Fixed-height units: If the unit cannot adjust, it will likely not be the correct standing height to accommodate your frame. Also, these units require you to remove the entire assembly when you want to sit. This is inconvenient, and people often find themselves forced into a standing position for this reason. While an anti-fatigue mat may help, it will take its toll on your hips, joints, back, knees, and feet over time.
- Height adjustable desk mount standing units: These units have two levels: one for the keyboard and mouse and one for the monitors. They are easy to install and come pre-assembled. With such a unit, you can keep your old desk with storage (please try to ditch your pencil drawer) and be empowered to stand, as the unit raises and lowers quickly. The unit with a keyboard that drops below your desk is recommended. Just so you know, the monitor distance is fixed and can only be viewed straight on.
- Varidesk: This heavy model clicks loudly when adjusted, which is disruptive in an open work environment. Because it lacks a monitor mount, there is a risk that your screen will be damaged when you adjust the desk. A significant downside is that the keyboard and mouse platform is 1” above the existing desk. As most desks are 29-30” (which is likely too high already), when adding an extra inch, your shoulders will raise even higher and your back will round.
- Sit-stand desk: These models are the best choice, for quick and easy adjustability. Electric desks with memory settings offer the full height range which allows you to sit and stand at your ideal height. With many sizes and shapes, the right size desk for your space and your tasks will make your work space efficient, organized and functional. The open leg room assures so you don’t hit your knees or thighs on desk supports. With these models, you can reach with ease to access items on your desk. The monitor is more stable on this easy-to-adjust surface and can be positioned to the needed depth and height (with monitor arm or stackers or make a saavy purchase of a height adjustable monitor).
A lot of people are getting interested in sit-stand desks, but for the wrong reasons – because they believe the 6 myths above. Now, knowing the facts about sit-stand desks, you should be even more inclined to jump on the sit-stand bandwagon and retrofit your workspace accordingly.
About Karen Burke
Karen is the founder and president of Kare Products, specializing in active ergonomic solutions. She has 30 years experience in ergonomic product design and consulting.