We’ve all heard it: “Sitting is the new smoking!” Countless articles have warned against the health risks posed by sitting all day, from short-term neck and upper back pain to chronic cardiovascular issues. Public awareness of these risks has led to tremendous growth for the standing desk industry. In fact, some workspaces are now designed with built-in counter-height work surfaces intended for standing use. However, going to the opposite extreme of standing for most or all of the work day can be just as bad as only sitting.

A flexible, customizable, height adjustable desk is the clear solution to optimize workplace health. Today we’ll examine the effects of too much standing on the human body and discover how the proper ergonomic workstation can keep workers from getting stuck in one place by making moderation easy.

Health Drawbacks of Too Much Standing

The term “standing desk” has become incredibly trendy over the past couple of decades as it has become a common health and wellness perk in the workplace. Unfortunately, taking the name too literally and standing for a prolonged period without breaks takes a toll on health. Here are the health drawbacks of standing for too long:

Painful and swollen feet. Prolonged standing can cause blood pooling in feet and ankles, which in turn leads to swelling and pain. If the floor is hard, pain can radiate up from the feet into the legs and other areas of the body.

Lower limb muscle fatigue. Standing five or more hours a day is a contributing factor to not only short-term fatigue, but long-term musculoskeletal disorders.

Leg cramps. In the short term, longer periods of standing are associated with cramping and pain in leg muscles.

Lower back problems. Too much standing can compress the spine, causing direct pain as well as impact on posture as a whole.

Vein and cardiovascular problems. Since the heart has to work harder to keep blood flowing throughout the body when standing, long periods of standing increase the risk of varicose veins and more severe cardiovascular problems such as deep vein thrombosis and heart disease.

These negative health effects are naturally exacerbated by using a desk that’s not flexible and only permits standing.

Finding the Right Balance for Health

When it comes to body position for desk work, change is vital. Spending too long in one position or posture places pressure on particular areas of the body, so the best way to combat that strain is to change positions regularly and take breaks for movement. A true height adjustable desk offers the flexibility to change positions when needed – and to find the exact right height for each individual.

The recommended desk adjustment interval is switching between sitting and standing every 30 minutes. If users are just starting to stand, they can ease the transition by making their sitting time longer to start – perhaps 45 minutes to an hour – and then decreasing to eventually reach an even sitting to standing time ratio. Regardless of ratio, it’s important for anyone working at a desk to take regular breaks to stretch, look away from the computer screen and move – whether a quick lap around the office or some lunges in place.

Enhance Health and Comfort with Accessories

The right accessories can help a new sit-stand desk user adjust to new working positions, and we’re not just talking about comfortable shoes – although those can certainly help in preventing foot pain! A workstation add-on that helps to make standing more enjoyable is an anti-fatigue mat. Placing one in front of a desk offers a cushioned layer over the floor, dissipating pressure that would otherwise be absorbed through the feet up into the body. The anti-fatigue mat helps to promote circulation and reduce compression all the way up the spine.

Another way for users to increase comfort while standing is to occasionally shift primary pressure from one foot to another – either on their own or with the assistance of a short box on which to rest one foot at a time.

Quick Refresher on Proper Posture

Whether sitting or standing, these posture guidelines always apply:

-Unless a footrest is needed, feet should be flat on the floor.

-Arms should be at a 90-degree angle to use the keyboard.

-The top of the monitor should be at eye level, an arm’s length away.

-The head, neck and spine should always be vertically aligned.

Standing-only desks simply do not have the flexibility to guarantee the correct posture for people with varying heights and needs. With the customization offered by a height adjustable desk, we can guide users to optimal ergonomic health – and make it easy to strike the right balance between sitting and standing.