If you just got a standing desk and approach it with an enthusiastic attitude, the odds are good that you are going to think you made a bad decision. Many people who get standing desks are so enthusiastic about using them that they try to immediately go from sitting all day to standing all day and end up with sore feet, weird muscle strains, and aches. This leads to them giving up on the standing desk and assuming that it isn’t the right solution for them.
First, standing desks are not really designed to be used exclusively. Standing all day may avoid some of the health pitfalls of sitting all day, but comes with its own health risks, mainly sore feet, knees, hips, and back. Instead, people should be aiming for a good mix of sitting and standing. The old thinking was that standing for 15 minutes of every hour was long enough to get the health benefits of standing, but newer evidence suggests that you should be standing at least 30 minutes of each hour.
While it is important to make sure you are standing long enough, you also want to make sure that you are sitting frequently enough to avoid the aches and pains that can come with extended standing. For a typical 8-hour workday, this means standing no more than 45 minutes of each hour.
However, if you are new to a standing desk, we encourage you not to try to start out standing 45 minutes of every hour. You are going to be using different muscles and different posture than if you are sitting. You want to give your body time to adjust to the changes. You need to slowly incorporate standing into your workday, gradually building up to your optimal time, which might not be as long as 45 minutes each hour.
You also need to strengthen your core. While standing may not seem to use core muscles, standing properly and with good posture does. The stronger you get your core, the fewer aches, pains, and even potential lifelong problems you will experience from extended use of a standing desk. In fact, while standing desks are a great first step to helping break unhealthy sedentary office habits, they are only the first step. In addition to standing, you must make sure and incorporate regular and varied movements throughout your day, as well.