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Using a standing desk for back pain relief

Should You Buy a Standing Desk for Back Pain? A Complete Guide in 2023

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Back pain is a major issue affecting millions of employees worldwide, leading to discomfort, decreased productivity, and reduced quality of life. In the past couple of years, standing desks have gained popularity as a potential solution to combat back discomfort associated with prolonged sitting. This comprehensive guide will explore whether you should buy a standing desk for back pain. We will look into the latest research, expert opinions, and user experiences to give you an informed perspective.

The Connection Between Sitting and Back Pain

When considering the impact on your back and neck health, comparing standing desks and sitting desks can help you decide which option is best for you.

By understanding this connection more deeply, you will be empowered to make lifestyle changes promoting a healthier neck and back and overall well-being.

How Prolonged Sitting Affects the Spine

Understanding how sitting affects the spine can provide valuable insights into the connection between sitting and back pain. As they say, sitting is the new smoking.

This poor posture can lead to imbalances in the spinal alignment, causing increased pressure on the intervertebral discs, muscles, and ligaments.

The spine’s natural curves, including the lumbar lordosis (lower back curve) and thoracic kyphosis (upper back curve), can be compromised in a reclined position.

The Health Hazards of a Sedentary Lifestyle

Comprehending the connection between sitting and back or neck pain can shed light on the detrimental effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

●  Musculoskeletal Issues: When sitting and standing for long durations, the muscles responsible for supporting the spine, such as the core and rear muscles, can become weak and conditioned to this poor position.

●  Reduced Blood Circulation: The lack of frequent movement breaks restricts blood flow and limits the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the spinal tissues.

●  Weight Gain and Obesity: Weight gain stresses the spine, leading to structural imbalances, disc degeneration, and increased discomfort.

●  Higher Risk of Chronic Diseases: Sitting for long periods has been linked to increased health problems such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer, or even premature death.

●  Mental and Emotional Impact: Research suggests prolonged sitting increases the risk of depression, anxiety, and reduced cognitive function.

●  Reduced Flexibility and Range of Motion: Lack of movement and extended time in static positioning can cause muscle tightness, stiffness, and reduced joint mobility.

To mitigate the health hazards of a sedentary lifestyle, it is essential to incorporate regular physical exercise and movement breaks throughout the day.

NOTE: Using a standing desk for back pain, specifically upper back pain, can be beneficial in relieving discomfort and promoting a healthier posture. Upper back pain is commonly associated with poor posture, muscle imbalances, and prolonged sitting. It’s essential to note that using a standing desk alone may not fully resolve upper back pain.

Benefits of Using a Sit-Stand Desk for Back Pain

By allowing people to do their desk job while standing or rotating between sitting and standing, standing desks offer a range of benefits that can entirely impact back health.

Using a sit-stand desk can improve posture, reducing the strain on the spine and promoting a more aligned position.

Let’s look into more health benefits and start integrating standing into the work routine so people can relieve upper back and neck pain and improve their overall well-being.

Reducing Pressure on the Lumbar Spine

Standing naturally promotes better spinal alignment compared to sitting.

By maintaining proper alignment, individuals can alleviate strain on the intervertebral discs and muscles in the lower back.

Making use of a sit-stand desk reduces compression as the body weight is dispersed more evenly, minimizing the load on the lumbar discs.

Encouraging Movement and Flexibility

One of the key advantages of using this desk is that it encourages individuals to be more physically active throughout the day.

Standing while working allows for more frequent and natural movement than excessive sitting for an extended duration.

This raised physical activity helps prevent muscle stiffness and promotes better overall health. Standing burns a few more calories (associated with weight loss) per hour than sitting does.

By using this desk, individuals can break up the extended duration of sedentary behavior and reduce the negative impact on the spine.

Rectify Poor Posture

Another benefit of adopting a standing desk is that it naturally corrects your poor posture, which helps align the spine properly.

When standing, the body’s weight is distributed more evenly along the spine, reducing the strain in specific areas such as the lower back.

This improved spinal alignment can alleviate pressure on the intervertebral discs and muscles, potentially reducing upper back and neck pain.

Being in a sitting position for prolonged periods often leads to slouching or hunching forward, which can place excessive stress on the spine and contribute to upper back and neck pain.

Strengthening Core and Back Muscles

Standing requires the engagement of core muscles to maintain stability and balance. The center muscles include the deep abdominal muscles, back extensors, and pelvic floor muscles.

When standing, these muscles support the spine and maintain good posture. Standing at a desk burns more calories and results in increased productivity.

Regularly using this desk encourages the activation of these core muscles, leading to improved strength and stability in the entire trunk area.

Your energy expenditure while standing and strolling around during the workday will be higher than when sitting all day.

NOTE: Are you experiencing lower back pain? Prolonged sitting can lead to increased pressure on the lumbar spine, contributing to lower back pain.

A sit-stand desk reduces this compression by allowing the spine to elongate and the intervertebral discs to decompress.

You can find relief and reduce lower back pain.

Do’s and Don’ts of Utilising a Standing Desk

A standing desk can benefit individuals seeking a more active and ergonomic work environment.

However, it’s important to understand the dos and don’ts of proper standing desk posture and usage to maximize this setup and avoid potential pitfalls. Here’s an introductory overview:

Choosing the Right Standing Desk Height

If you’re considering investing in this desk, it’s a good idea to explore the top-standing desk options available to find the one that suits your needs and preferences.

Set your height so that your elbows are at a comfortable 90-degree angle when typing or using the keyboard.

You may also get standing desk converters to raise your keyboard, laptop, and displays to standing height. A laptop stand can also help.

Adjust the height of your computer monitor or laptop so that the top of the computer screen is at or somewhat below eye level. Avoid setting your desk height too high or too low.

Standing Desk Accessories to Improve Comfort and Ergonomics

Consider using an ergonomic chair or stool designed for desk use. These provide a supportive and comfortable seating option when you need a break from standing.

Look for a chair or stool that promotes good posture, offers adjustable height and lumbar support, and encourages active sitting.

Invest in an anti-fatigue or cushioned mat to buffer and support your feet and lower body. Avoid using chairs or stools that are uncomfortable or lack proper ergonomic support.

Choose chairs or stools for standing desk use, providing proper lumbar support and adjustability.

Transitioning from Sitting to Standing: Guidelines and Timelines

Begin by gradually incorporating standing into your work routine. Start with shorter standing intervals, such as 15 minutes to a half hour, and gradually increase the duration.

This allows your body to adapt to the new body posture and prevents excessive strain on muscles and joints. Set specific time intervals for sitting and standing throughout the day.

Avoid standing for long periods without breaks. Prolonged standing can lead to fatigue, discomfort, and increased leg and foot stress.

Additionally you should wear supportive shoes to help prevent foot soreness.

Gradually increase your standing time while incorporating regular sitting breaks to avoid overexertion, and discover your ideal standing duration to maximize benefits.

Health Professionals’ Take on Standing Desks for Back Pain

Health professionals’ viewpoint on standing desks for back pain provides valuable insights into the potential benefits and considerations associated with using these desks as a solution.

Their opinions and recommendations carry weight due to their expertise in the field. According to CDC’s study using a standing desk reduces upper back and neck pain by 54%.

Chiropractors’ Recommendations

As healthcare professionals specializing in musculoskeletal health, chiropractors offer valuable insights into using these desks for upper back pain and neck pain.

Chiropractors emphasize the importance of maintaining proper posture while utilizing a standing desk.

They also recommend a gradual transition to utilizing a standing desk. They emphasize the importance of wearing supportive footwear while utilizing a standing desk.

They suggest including regular movement breaks, such as stretching, walking, or performing gentle exercises, to keep the muscles active and reduce the risk of stiff muscles or fatigue.

Physical Therapists’ Insights

Physical therapists emphasize the importance of an individualized approach.

They assess each person’s needs, posture, movement patterns, and underlying musculoskeletal conditions to provide tailored recommendations for utilizing a standing desk.

Physical therapists also advise keeping the head aligned with the spine, shoulders relaxed, and the pelvis in a neutral position.

Ergonomics Experts’ Perspectives

Ergonomics experts emphasize the importance of a customized setup based on individual needs.

They consider height, body proportions, work tasks, and existing musculoskeletal conditions to determine the appropriate height, monitor position, keyboard and mouse placement, and other ergonomic adjustments.

Ergonomics experts prioritize maintaining a neutral spine alignment while utilizing a sit-stand desk.

Are There Any Downsides to Standing Desks for Back Pain?

While these desks have gained popularity as a potential solution for back pain, it is essential to consider the benefits AND potential downsides before deciding.

These desks offer advantages such as reduced lumbar pressure and improved posture, but there are a few downsides worth considering:

The Importance of Movement and Breaks

Standing for prolonged periods without breaks can lead to muscular fatigue and discomfort.

The static position places continuous stress on the legs, feet, and lower back muscles, potentially worsening back or foot pain. Another reason is wearing uncomfortable shoes.

Regular movement breaks allow muscle rest and recovery, reducing the risk of fatigue and discomfort.

Threats of Overusing the Standing Desk

Standing without sufficient rest can also lead to aches, pains, and muscle fatigue. The constant engagement of muscles in the legs, feet, and lower back can cause strain and exhaustion.

This can worsen back and foot pain and lead to overall discomfort.

Frequently Asked Questions About Using a Standing Desk for Back Pain Relief.

How Long Should I Stand at a Standing Desk?

The duration of standing at a sit-stand desk can vary depending on individual preferences and comfort levels.

If you are new to sit-stand desks, begin by standing for shorter durations, such as 15-30 minutes. Then work up to blocks of one hour, then two, then four hours over several weeks.

Can I Experience Back Pain From Standing Too Much?

Yes, standing for extended periods can potentially lead to back pain. While standing is often considered a healthier alternative to excessive sitting, it has risks.

What Is the Ideal Height for a Standing Desk?

The standard appropriate height for a standing desk is 30 inches; however, this may not work for you, depending on your height.

Do Anti-fatigue Mats Help Reduce Back Pain While Using a Standing Desk?

An anti-fatigue mat can help reduce back pain using a standing desk.

These mats are designed to cushion your feet and legs, alleviating pressure on the lower back and improving overall comfort.

How Do I Transition From Sitting to Standing Without Causing More Pain?

If you experience increased pain while standing, take breaks and change positions between sitting and standing to find a balance that works for you.

Everyone’s tolerance for standing varies, so respecting your body’s limits and adjusting accordingly is essential.


Using a standing desk for back pain can significantly benefit your overall well-being.

Ensure that you choose the right standing desk height to maintain proper ergonomics. However, it is crucial to understand that using a standing desk alone is insufficient.

Remember, each person is unique, so it’s important to adapt these guidelines to your needs and consult healthcare professionals or ergonomics experts for personalized advice.

With the right approach, a standing desk can be beneficial in your journey towards a healthier, pain-free back while working.