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In recent years our busy lifestyles and surmounting stress levels have demanded we adopt work environments more conducive to health. Besides a growing body of research has demonstrated that we spend 95% of our time sitting.
These findings have also proven that sitting is a sort of bad habit that solely contributes to various diseases and problems. The use of a standing desk is one solution that can help us counteract the effects of prolonged sitting.
What is a standing desk?
A standing desk is a workstation or piece of furniture that enables you to stand to complete tasks on the computer, write or read. Standing desks are not a recent trend and actually emerged as early as the 18th century.
Honourable personalities such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson used standing desks. Besides fueling creativity, these desks are known to drive productivity.
Reports have also claimed that standing desks have positively contributed to health.
Research has suggested that spending a certain number of hours in the day standing factors in an active lifestyle more than just exercising regularly.
Standing desks in offices could lessen the sedentary time and help us live longer-healthier lives.
Why is Proper Desk Height Important?
It would not be very productive if the very purpose of using a standing desk is lost in bad posture and related problems due to incorrect height.
Your standing desk maybe either too high or too low making it uncomfortable to work for long periods at a stretch.
Standing desks with the wrong height can cause posture problems such as rounded shoulders or a forward head postures.
It may also cause you to slouch if too low, leading to possible back problems. Incorrect height of a standing desk may cause you to rest on one leg transferring all load and tension to that side of your body.
Wrong height of a standing desk may cause musculoskeletal problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome and epicondylitis, that affect the nerves and tendons.
These problems and other serious problems are related to a bad posture which could be caused by an uncomfortable standing desk.
To reduce the risk of pain and other problems the height and ergonomics of your standing desk are important. A standing desk should be comfortable to increase productivity and employee satisfaction.
Once you’ve made the decision to use a standing desk, it’s important to determine and set the height according to your needs.
Guidelines to Decide on the Height of the Standing Desk
Here is a quick thumb rule –
Optimally your standing desk should be as tall as the level at where your elbows rest at right angle on the desk. Your desk height should contribute to upright standing position with an open chest and shoulders draw back.
Your forearms should comfortably rest on the desk and be aligned with the desk and floor.
When choosing a standing desk for yourself consider your body structure, height and personal preferences.
However, most stores selling standing desks have calculators that suggest appropriate desk heights according to match body height. For example, for someone who is 5’3” as desk height of 38 inches will be suitable.
Ensure the right height of your standing desk by following these guidelines.
- Adjust yourself into a correct posture by standing upright, head slightly facing the ceiling, shoulders drawn back and arms by your sides. Imagine from the ceiling attached to the top of your head.
- Lift your hands up until your elbows are a 90-degree angle or at resting elbow height. Your writs should be aligned with your hands or slightly bent upwards but not downwards.
- Adjust the desk height until your hands are resting on the keyboard and you are at eye level with the top section of your monitor. For example, the first Facebook post or the address bar of the page should be at eye level.
- When adjusting your desk height from a higher to a lower position, hold one hand out in the resting elbow position and gently lay it on the keyboard. Use the other hand to control the height of the desk until the keyboard comes in contact with your hand.
- You can also adjust your monitor accordingly to fit this position. Make sure you are in the most relaxed position before setting the height of your desk.
Additionally, consider the following for the ideal standing desk height
Why it is Better to buy standing desks with adjustable height
Women wear heels and flats which then changes the height of the desk according to heel height. Even in men have shoes with different sole height.
Also, if the desk will be used by several people, then it will need adjusting every time. A fixed standing desk cannot acgieve this.
In these situations, it is advisable to invest in an electric standing desk that can be adjusted from seating to standing positions at the height of your choice.
You spend most of your time looking at the top-left section of your monitor so you want your eye height to be at the top of the screen.
A simple way to achieve this is to place your monitor stand on a partial ream of printer paper. If you would like something adjustable check out our monitor arms, once you have one you’ll never go back.
Why fixed angle standing desks are great
Standing desks that are fixed at a lower level that a 90-degree angle are more supportive than anything at a higher level. Besides being uncomfortable a desk height higher than a right-angle elbow position can cause long term neck shoulder and back problems.
Elbows rested at a 90-degree angle is one of the main comfort factors in setting the height of your standing desk. However, take it a step further to ensure your elbows are actually in this position.
These standing desks besides being adjustable come with inbuilt keyboard trays where you can rest your wrists and elbows. These desks seek to prevent problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome, wrist extension and elbow flexion.
Some desks are adjusted to heights meant for specific tasks. For example, the height of a desk meant for purely phone related work would be different from an architectural work space.
It is more feasible to invest in a standing desk that comes with an electrical motor, hand crank or counterweight design. This way you could adjust the height according to tasks and changing height situations.
To conclude, your standing desk should be tall enough to suit your height.
Investing in a custom-made desk or an electrically adjustable would depend on whether it is meant for one or multiple users.
Height is thus an important factor to look out for when shopping for a standing desk to ensure it meets your needs.