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Standing Desk Posture 101: How to Use Your Sit-Stand Desk

There are many benefits to splitting your work time between sitting and standing. Learn the proper standing desk posture as well as other ergonomic tips.

Standing desks are like any other ergonomic tool — you have to use them correctly to reap the benefits. Without proper standing desk posture, you're likely to deal with many of the same aches and pains associated with your sitting desk, plus a few more. For example, if you lean forward and put weight into your wrists, they'll fatigue quickly because they're not meant to bear weight like that.
This guide covers proper standing desk posture so that you can get the most from your workstation. You'll learn how to stand at a standing desk and adjust your workspace to accommodate your body. We've also included tips to help you feel more comfortable throughout your workday, no matter how long you're spending at the office.

Benefits of Standing Desks

You may have heard that bad posture can lead to an increased risk of health problems, while good posture can help you prevent or reduce issues like back and neck pain. And if you've been an office worker for long, you've probably heard coworkers sing praises of the health benefits of using a standing desk. But what can you actually expect, and is it really a game-changer to work in a standing position?
Standing desks help us combat the real issue with office life: a sedentary lifestyle and long periods spent sitting with poor posture with few interruptions. Many of the benefits of standing desks are the same as standing more and sitting less. For example, standing more often (which you can do using a sit-stand desk) may lower your risk for health issues such as:
  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Metabolic issues and Type 2 diabetes
  • Long-term mortality risk
  • Cancer
  • Upper and lower back pain
  • Shoulder and neck pain
Using a standing desk is just one of many ways to break up long hours spent sitting. You can also reap health benefits like those highlighted above by breaking up your sitting time with walks and stretch breaks. That said, a standing desk is a convenient solution that can help you avoid slouching in your chair while you work for extended periods.
Standing more often can also improve your energy levels, productivity, mood, and muscle tone. If you have a desk job and you're working on your wellness, we recommend using an adjustable standing desk to give yourself more standing time and less time spent in your office chair.

Negative Effects of Poor Posture

Poor posture causes demonstrable issues, and it's not just associated with too much sitting. Slouching and standing with bad posture throughout the day, as well as sitting with poor posture, can cause issues like:
  • Neck and back pain
  • Aches, pains, and muscle fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Rounded shoulders, potbelly, and a forward- or backward-leaning head position
  • Abnormally bent knees when standing or walk


And who wants to deal with those issues in the workplace (or ever)? In addition to watching your posture when you're sitting or standing, you can also prevent these issues by exercising regularly and performing stretches two to three times per day.

Standing Desks 101

Before assuming good posture at your standing desk, you need to adjust it to the correct height. Ideally, you'll have a height-adjustable standing desk that accurately saves your ideal sitting and standing heights to the centimeter. (That's how we designed ours.)
Here's how to find the right height for a good standing desk posture:
  • Shoes: Put on (or take off) your shoes so that you're wearing what you plan to wear while you work. Shoes add height, and you need to consider this, even if it's less than an inch.
  • Mat: Stand on your standing desk mat or anti-fatigue mat if you plan to use one. Like your shoes, your mat will add height that you need to account for when finding the proper adjustment.
  • Height: Bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle (or a 100-degree angle if that’s what you prefer) and measure the distance from the floor (not your mat) to your wrists. Alternately, keep your arms straight and measure the height to your elbow — either method will place your desk at approximately elbow height.


Standing Desk Posture

With your desk height set, you'll be able to assume good posture and protect your spine. Of course, you might need to make some other adjustments as you go, but let's start with proper standing desk posture:
  • Standing position: Stand with your spine in a neutral position, allowing for the natural curvature of your spine. You should be able to draw a straight line from your head, through your neck, torso, and legs, and down to your ankles. Keep your feet hip-width apart.
  • Head position: You should be looking straight ahead, with your cervical spine (your neck) in a natural position. Think about balancing your head directly over your pelvis, if it helps, and hold your chin parallel to the floor.
  • Hand position: Place your hands and wrists on your keyboard tray and mouse, bending your elbows between 90 and 100 degrees. Adjust your desk slightly down if your arms are bent less than 90-degree angles and slightly up if your arms are extended more than 100-degree angles (or as needed for comfort).
  • Shoulder position: Draw your shoulder blades in and down on your back as though you're trying to pinch a quarter between them. Then, relax your shoulders and neck to prevent pain while maintaining this position.
  • Distance: The top of your computer screen should be at eye level and an arm's length away (18-30 inches) from your face to prevent eye strain. You may require a monitor arm to raise your computer monitor to the correct height.


If you're not sure if you're standing up straight, ask someone to take a photo of you from the side while standing at your desk. This will make it easier to see how your posture looks.

How Often to Stand Up

Balancing your standing-to-sitting ratio will help prevent fatigue, aches, and pains in either position for too long. The ideal ratio is between one-to-one and one-to-three:
  • One-to-one ratio: This ratio means you spend equal time sitting and standing — for example, 45 minutes sitting, 45 minutes standing.
  • One-to-two ratio: This is when you sit twice as much as you stand — for example, 30 minutes sitting, 15 minutes standing.
  • One-to-three ratio: This ratio involves sitting three times as much as you stand — for example, 45 minutes of sitting, 15 minutes of standing.


It can help to start with a one-to-three ratio before moving to a one-to-two ratio and, finally, a one-to-one ratio. This lets you build up strength and endurance in a standing position. It might not seem like much, but standing activates your core muscles and uses more energy than sitting. And holding your body upright with good posture may initially tax your shoulder and neck muscles if you're accustomed to using poor posture.

How You Sit Matters Too

Using an ergonomic chair with proper sitting posture between periods of standing is also important. You'll want a chair with multiple points of adjustment and good lumbar support. From there, use the following tips for sitting with good posture:
  • Hips, knees, ankles: Your hips, knees, and ankles should be at 90-degree angles. This may require you to adjust your chair up or down. Keep your feet flat on the floor or your footrest.
  • Head position: Balance your head directly over your shoulders and pelvis and sit with your back in a neutral position. Look straight ahead and position your monitor with the top of the screen at eye level.
  • Arms, shoulders, and elbows: Your arms should hang down at your side, gently resting on your armrests, and your elbows should be bent between a 100- and 90-degree angle. Additionally, keep your shoulders relaxed, down, and back.


It could be time for a standing break if you notice your neck, shoulders, or back aching while you sit. Or, you might need a new desk chair and some accessories, like a headrest, to go with your monitor arm.

Standing Desk Tips and Tricks

These tips will help you avoid common mistakes and master your standing desk posture:
  • Try a footrest: You can use a footrest under your desk while standing to rest your feet and adjust your position. Assume good standing desk posture, then place one foot forward on the footrest.
  • Accessorize: Use desk accessories to make your workstation more accommodating. For example, you might use a free-standing power dock to help with cable management while keeping your tech charged.
  • Ask your employer for help: Whether you're setting up a home office or your on-site office, ask your HR department if you can get help fixing your ergonomics. A home office stipend, for example, may provide you with money to cover new office equipment.
  • Don't forget movement breaks: Add movement breaks regularly in addition to sitting and standing. Try taking a 10-minute movement break for every hour spent working. During your break, walk around, stretch, and stay active to help your body recover — and avoid screens during this time to give your eyes a break, too.


Don't Forget a Good Standing Desk

The final element of great standing desk posture is finding the best standing desk for your office. We recommend our adjustable standing desk, which was voted Best Standing Desk by The Strategist, Apartment Therapy, TechRadar, and Good Housekeeping, and listed as one of Business Insider's Best Products of 2020. Our desk boasts smooth, quiet motors to quickly move the desk up and down and allows you to find and save the perfect sitting and standing heights.
And if you're giving your whole home office a makeover, try our Design My Office feature to receive customized desk, chair, and accessory recommendations suited to your workspace.

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