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What happens when you use a standing desk for two years (arshadchowdhury.com)
467 points by arshadgc on Aug 27, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 285 comments

I say this to anyone within earshot whenever this topic comes up: Get a motorized adjustable desk that you can stand or sit at. Unless you are a freak of nature, sometimes you will want or need to sit down. These desks are the norm in every office here in Denmark and I am always baffled that it is some kind of esoteric thing worthy of debate in America.

Having gotten used to them at the office, I got one for my home because I could no longer bear having to sit all the time. It cost around $500, a beautiful desk with customized bezel and finish. There are many suppliers, I used this one: http://www.conset.dk

(My desk: http://imgur.com/A1eS2)

Adjustable is useful, motorized is not. I have an Ergotron, and it takes me about two seconds to move it from sitting to standing position or vice versa. It's less time than it takes to switch the gel mat and the chair. When I bought it, there was about a 4x price difference between that and a motorized version that would have consumed yet another power outlet for no good reason.

Perhaps you're both solving the wrong problem... It's not necessary to spend so much money, nor time moving a desk up and down.

Get a tall drafting table, and a nice bar stool. Then you can get up or sit down to your hearts content all day. No waiting.

Well, yeah, except for the "sitting on a bar stool" part. Blech.

It's not really a stool, but a high chair, with a back and armrests ... may not be using the right word..

I usually see them advertised as Drafting Chairs :) I have tried this very solution, and it worked fairly well. Unfortunately my drafting chair broke and I haven't replaced it yet.

A bar stool isn't known for providing good posture to sit and work at a desk. If you find standing at a desk useful, you'll also find good ergonomic posture when sitting very helpful.

Ergo: feet flat on floor or a box, knee and elbow joints at 90 degrees back straight. Less clear-cut if back support helps (given sitting on a medicine ball due to the wriggling can be good, I don't know the best outcome)

It's not really a stool, but a high chair, with a back and armrests ... may not be using the right word.

I picked myself up a drafting chair (best term for online trawling I've found so far) without armrests (since I can't stand armrests), and a small cheap coffee table for me to rest my feet on. Much easier than trying to constantly readjust my quad monitor setup -- I set up the desk at one ideal position for standing, and leave my chair adjusted in another ideal position for sitting.

This is essentially what I did except I didn't get a drafting table, I got the IKEA jerker and jerry-rigged a bar stool on top of a treadmill. Now I can walk , stand or sit while working. My setup : http://imgur.com/xq3KkFa

I also have an Ergotron, and I completely agree.

It's Victorian-level counterweight technology, and it's absolutely brilliant.

Can you provide a link? Thanks

Looks like it costs $699, which is about $100 less than I paid for my motorized desk.

Actually it was about $500 for the version with the extra tray, and the motorized versions I saw when I was shopping were all at least twice that to move more surface than I want anyway. It's fantastic that you found something that suits you better at a good price, just like it's fantastic that some people like to sit on barstools or rig up extra shelves for printers and routers, but I think in most cases a good monitor/keyboard stand is closer to the sweet spot of practicality and price.

For those of you in Austin, TX, there is a local store that sells adjustible height desks[0]. I haven't actually bought one yet, but it was nice to play with them to see what they are like.

[0] http://www.thehumansolution.com/

Interesting this should come up just now. My (human solution) electric base arrives in 2 days. I bought a finished piece of birch marine plywood for the top. Total cost $674 plus a little elbow grease to trim to size and sand. :D

It does seem ridiculously expensive for a motor to drive the desktop up and down. But I'm trying to fix a shoulder injury that seems to have gone chronic. We shall see...

I also purchased an adjustable desk base from The Human Solution back in March. I paired it with a 73" x 26" kitchen countertop from Ikea.

I also put my monitors on an Ergotron dual monitor arm (http://www.ergotron.com/tabid/65/PRDID/355/default.aspx) so I can adjust the height of the monitors for sitting vs standing.

Overall I'm quite happy with the setup.

For those of you in Austin, TX, there is a local manufacturer.


Thanks for the link. The desks look gorgeous, but I'll be honest: the absence of even ballpark pricing and the presence of prominent financing offers make me a bit leery of looking further.

A coworker got one of these. He loves it but, IMHO it's a bit too expensive. I understand it's a good quality desk but I personally can't afford that.

My work has a similar model. They're quite nice, and I've gradually been working on how much I'm standing - up to about 2 hours now.

As far as power goes, my desk has a hidden power strip on the underside. It powers the lift feature for both legs (so there's only 1 wall plug), but you can also plug in your monitors so you don't need to have 10' cords on all your equipment. They also sell a power strip that can mount to the top of the desk, so again you don't need very long cords for all your peripherals (phones, chargers, etc).

For network cables you'll still need a cord long enough to travel to the standing height.

I tend to be a neat freak when it comes to organizing a desk, and will often have a surge strip velcro'd to the underside of a desk. Industrial velcro & straps are pretty cheap, and can be adjusted pretty easily when moving/relocating equipment. I've been thinking of getting monitor arms, since I am fairly tall, I tend to want my desk lower (at elbow height) and my monitors higher than most will rise up from that height, so that I can actually sit up straight and look forward... I'm pretty heavy so don't think going straight to a standing desk would work as well for me.

I'm a bit baffled that you think this is an esoteric thing worthy of debate in America. Seems like a pretty silly and useless generalization. I can make an opposite anecdotal observation and point out that the majority of my colleagues in the last five years have used standing desks of some sort (motorized or not).

The big issue that I've seen is cost. If you buy something pre-built or motorized/adjustable over here, it's going to be a bit more expensive. I opted to take the do-it-yourself route for my home office, which is what a lot of my colleagues did as well.

Here's what mine looked like the day I installed it: http://i.imgur.com/TiYJrZi.jpg

Came in at about $75 bucks, including the stain/varnish/mounting brackets/boards/etc.

Lowes and Home Depot sell wood specifically for stairs that have a rounded edge (so you don't kill your feet/shins). The desktop is just two of these butted up against each others' flat side, screwed down into the bracket below. Each board was about $10. The computer shelf below is made out of a single stair board. A set of super basic $8 wall mounts will hold all of this up without an issue.

The whole thing is rock solid, attractive, durable, and if I took more time to do some cable routing, it'd look really "floaty" and free-standing.

> I'm a bit baffled that you think this is an esoteric thing... the majority of my colleagues in the last five years have used standing desks of some sort

His example is still esoteric as you didn't show us a motorized adjustable sitting/standing desk either.

The "generalizations" would be sitting desks, and an emerging interest in standing desks. A motorized adjustable desk, in America, remains esoteric.

I don't think a motorized/adjustable desk is worth the expense, in my case. A cheap stool is perfectly good and serves a similar purpose without the danger of breaking. This is subjective, of course, and some of my colleagues have gone the motorized route. I'd just rather spend more on other things and forego the motorization. I've got like $75 in my desk and $15 in my stool, with the rest going towards a nice keyboard/mouse and monitors (things I'd rather spend top dollar on).

I'm a bit baffled that you think this is an esoteric thing worthy of debate in America.

That's because it is. In most offices, you have 1, maybe 2 people who use a standing desk. They're easy to spot because they stick out like a sore thumb. Those desks are almost always hand made too, because employers won't spend money on non-standard desks. Depending on how big the company is, you also may piss off the "workplace ergonomics expert" if you don't consult them before building your own desk.

Not to mention, most office space is pre-constructed out of snap-to-fit desk/cubicle walls. The chance of me getting a height adjustable desk is between zero and a very small number. Unless I qualified for an actual office (~10% of the workforce, management naturally), in which case I could probably swing it.

I'm not defending cubespace at all, but this is what we have to work with.

FWIW, I actually had my first standing desk at a large company (International Paper) in one of those pre-fab cubes. One of the "benefits" of the cube farm is that some of them are extremely adjustable. My desk was secured against the walls on these brackets that you could pull out of the rack in the wall and move the pegs up/down. In my case, I "adjusted" my desk surface up a few feet and stopped using my desk chair. Whala, standing desk.

YMMV, but the cubes were sort of an enabler in getting me started (since the investment was $0 and about 20 minutes of work adjusting things).

How do you adjust the height to sitting position? Or do you sit on a drafting chair or similar?

I use a really cheap stool (pictured in the lower left corner). It was about $15 on clearance at some home goods store.

The thing I've struggled with a little is reminding myself not to slouch when using the stool. It may be worth buying one with a back, if you have the budget for it.

Also of note is the fact that this desk is only really comfortable for me since it's fixed and non-adjustable. That's not a big deal in this case since this is my office, though. I'm a shade over 5'4", so my desk wouldn't be much fun for anyone a few inches taller/shorter.

> I use a really cheap stool (picture in the lower left corner).

-5 for my observation skills today :) Thank you!

Yes! When I first started using a standing desk I found I actually got quite sick of standing for long stretches and would just end up taking my laptop over to the couch to work. I finally got a http://www.geekdesk.com and I'm happy as a clam.

Why are these things so damn expensive? Looks like they are fleecing money ( or it appears so for my cheapskate sensibilities ). Someone should start a kick-starter project to make good ones for a reasonable price.

How much do you think a sturdy steel frame with reasonably precise synchronized lifting motors with a combined capacity of over 300lbs designed to put up with years of use and abuse should cost?

I'm gonna go with US $120-305 per piece.


Probably best to leave out the garish tabletop and find your own, though.

Then surely you'll be importing them en masse and selling for $400 a pop to undercut GeekDesk et al., yes?

Alibaba gives unexpected insights into the products all around us!

Has anyone ordered anything like this from alibaba? Just wondering if it was legit.

Well, it's all good, but buy one for this price first. Even when Ikea was selling motorized desks, they weren't this cheap.

What is a reasonable guess here..hmmm. I have no idea about how much these motors would cost but I am assuming given the number of office chairs (which move up and down with a lever) we produce, they shouldn't be costing a lot. We get good office chairs which support up to 300 lbs for under $100. I am assuming the technology for moving tables should be similarly priced. A sturdy steel frame + planks (wood/composite) + up/down motor/hydraulic lift shouldn't cost more than $300 in my subjective opinion. I am not willing to pay more than that. Wonder how much would IKEA charge for these, if they made one (edited for typos).

The >300lbs on a GeekDesk Max isn't how much it can support, it's how much it can lift. Your office chair can't lift 300lbs. It can't lift much at all. I also don't believe in the ability of a pair of $300 hydraulic lifts to consistently reproduce my presets.

As someone who weighs close to 300lbs, I can also tell you you won't find a good office chair rated for 300lbs for under $100. Go look at the specs on office chairs closely. Most of them will be rated for less than 250lbs with no more than a few hours/day of use.

If you want your own crappy top (planks? really?), the actual cost of a GeekDesk Max is $725-745. The non-max (275lbs lifting capacity) is $525-549. You want a vastly inferior product to save $225?

Why does a desk need to lift 300 lbs? Seems like a ridiculous requirement.

Perhaps because you weigh 160 lbs and your spouse / sexetary weighs 140 lbs?

I got a geek desk, the original. Put my own top of plywood on it finished. I've got 3 24" flatscreens and abunch of other crap. I'm still not even near the lifting capacity. But I think of the higher end desk as a good idea for a quieter motor, not so much the need for more weight. With that said, I think a hand crank desk should be fine for most of us. If only I could find one that's reasonably cheaper. The hand crank desks I've seen basically cost the same as the geekdesk though, which I don't understand at all.

50lbs desk surface, 3x ~15lbs LCDs, 5.6lbs laptop, ~15lbs desktop, other electronics, lamps, some books, papers, stands, containers with misc parts and things, whatever else I might be working on.

It's a 6.5' x 2.6' foot surface, it holds a lot more than a laptop.

One problem I see with the chair-piston approach is that if you don't get each leg moving up or down at the same rate then you might get a jam. This could probably be overcome if it is indeed an issue at all, but probably worth considering.

I have a simple(minded) idea here. Connect a damn horizontal rod between the two pistons/moving-legs on each side

Which will cause the desk to jam at a (potentially disastrous) angle when the motors get out of sync.

Are you a programmer? Do you like it when a non-programmer tells you "just do X", because it must obviously be so simple?

Why, then, are you so sure that you can come up with a better design than mechanical engineers without even studying the problem?

Apologies for shooting from the hip. Never meant to say I can come up with a better design than mechanical engineers. You seem to suggest that building this table requires some serious engineering chops. May be there is some truth to it. As a layman ( in mechanical engineering ) I find it extremely hard to believe that technology for synchronized hydraulic lifts is not commoditized yet.

It just feels like these ergonomic goods producing companies are selling chairs/tables with super high markups ($900-$1500) for ergo chairs - really?). Seems like you have a better handle on the production costs of a hight-adjustable table. How much does it really cost?

FWIW, we certainly can make synchronized tandem lifts, but as always it comes down to costs. Basically if you want both actuators to move in unison, you either need to directly link them mechanically, which is expensive to build/repair, and not very feasible over large distances, or you need to connect them electrically via their control signals.

In the latter case, you would usually synchronize their controller clocks, and specify the motors/cylinders/whatever to both have a very tight positioning tolerance. Then you mount the surface being moved on a system of bearings that have enough freedom s.t. it will self center automatically, absorbing the tiny bit of misalignment that can (and WILL) occur.

However, in my experience it's almost always better to use two passive, i.e. non-lifting, supports along with one actuator in the middle that is twice as powerful. In heavy lift applications it often comes down to getting a single cylinder that is powerful enough without blowing the cost through the roof. Nevertheless, if you look at marine architecture, airport gangways, earth moving machinery etc. you will often see just a single lifting point.

And in three paragraphs we've gone from office chair pistons to front-end loaders! Yay HN! As I said... for what it's worth ;-)

They probably make about 20-30% profit on each one dependent on the company.

Making shit is expensive unless you're doing it at scale, the majority of people don't care about adjustable desks so the marketshare is by nature a niche. You then have staffing costs, design costs, distribution costs.

Why not use a crank then?

I think if you want to do it cheap, then a handcrank, 4 rubber belt drives, and 4 screw legs would be the way to go. The problem would be making it look acceptable (either hide the mechanism, or display it prominently and make it look nice.

package that with a corded drill and you are good to go.

Hydraulic lifts on chairs work because you can stand up to raise the chair! It doesn't have to lift hardly any weight.

A bit pedantic, but I think you mean "pneumatic lifts". Unless you have something very exotic, there's no fluid in your chair!

They do make one. They charge 600 €.

Dunno, but fixed height desks of similar style and excellent build quality run around $150.


That table has 40% the surface area of my desk, and a static weight limit of 176lbs. I'd have to buy two for $300, still wouldn't have the same surface area, then I'd have to put it on something else because its maximum height is 32 inches (mine's over 43 when I'm standing). And, of course, the non-adjustability is a complete deal-breaker.

Over 5 years, a $1000 desk is about $0.55/day. It's strange to me how many people think it's outrageous for such a critical tool to cost that much.

Over 5 years, a $1000 desk is about $0.55/day. It's strange to me how many people think it's outrageous for such a critical tool to cost that much.

I suspect they're thinking about how a $100 desk is 1/10 that price, whether it's amortized over 5 years or not.


Perhaps, but a cheap and sturdy plain old IKEA desk with a wooden desktop costs about that much.

Why should it be made of wood? Any composite material will do. We just need to build one which is affordable. It looks like a niche product right now, and a whole lot of average americans cannot afford to purchase one. It looks like one of those things we have to pay a premium to own. You get sturdy and durable hydraulic barber chairs between $100-$150. A table with the same kind of lift mechanism should cost you ~$750 to own?

You get sturdy and durable hydraulic barber chairs between $100-$150.

This is difficult to believe, given that new cheap office/task chairs start at that price. Do you have a link?

These are the sort that I see in most barber shops, and are in that price-range: http://www.bestmassagesalon.com/product_p/pro3.htm

They probably wouldn't make a good drop-in replacement for office chairs since they aren't on wheels. On the other hand, footrests are nice...

"Why should it be made of wood? Any composite material will do."

To be clear, the IKEA table is probably made of a composite wood, not a proper slab of wood, but I agree with your point. Material cost should not dominate the price of a desk.

To be honest though, I think the value of a motorized desk is being overblown. I have just put my desk up on 4 stacks of office paper in the past; worked great. Everyone needs new expensive toys though...

That's the price of a shitty little desk from Staples. You pay shit, you get shit.

>You pay shit, you get shit.

That's what you say to suckers with your arm around their shoulders. I hope you don't mention that philosophy before you get the quote, because people are willing to sell you shit at any price.

Steel is >$0.60 per kilogram when purchased by the tonne. I believe the GeekDesk frames weigh over 100kg. So that's $60 just for the raw steel before it's been turned into anything useful or adding the motors and electronics.

I invite you to try to just break even selling adjustable 100kg steel desks to end-users at $150 each.

The shitty desk I use was $20. If $150 is still shitty, this shits too expensive.

The nichier the market, the more price has to go up to compensate. I also doubt there's much competition in the field, other than DIY or not using a convertible desk at all.

There are actually more options for height adjustable desks than you might imagine. I wrote up a post a while back that listed 7, but commenters have since added quite a few more.


It's not quite that simple because the high prices force the market to remain niche. It may be that the market could become surprisingly large if an affordable commodity version of this were available.

Welcome to the world of furniture; the world of huge items taking lots of warehouse space, all with low turnover. Furniture is expensive, full stop.

They need to be more Lean!

There are other options. Why a huge desk in the first place? The Jesper Workpad [1] is just $299 on Amazon [2] -- a minimalistic laptop desk with a minimal footprint and clean aesthetic. It's not motorized, but it doesn't need to be.

[1] http://www.jesperoffice.com/jesper-office-ergonomics/526-hei...

[2] http://www.amazon.com/Jesper-Height-Adjustable-Computer-Tabl...

I don't know about you, but I commonly have a lot more stuff on my desk than would fit on that thing. I don't work with keyboard+mouse+monitor, but even with just that it would be cramped. Maybe if you just use a laptop.

I got a ModTable (multitable.com), which is a bit more cost effective. Bought it through Amazon. You can buy just the hardware, and supply your own top if you want too (ikea sells some).

It isn't automatic (has a hand crank), but it works great! I don't run it up and down all day, and taking a minute to crank the handle (which is removable) when I want to change positions, is not onerous.

Do you think it would be feasible to use a drill to raise/lower it?

I think so!

Here is a picture of the handle: http://cl.ly/image/1e2k0a1Q2u38

I don't see why you couldn't leave the handle off (you insert the large allen wrench thing into the handle as part of assembly) and use a large-capacity bit grip, and a drill.

Might be a bit unwieldy though.

I've been quite happy with one of these: http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=modtable

Somewhat expensive, but costs less than a geekdesk/etc.

Since I have a laptop, I think it would be easier (and cheaper) to just have a standing setup and a sit-down desk nearby to switch between.

I bought mine at a garage sale for $100! (I do recognize that I am SUPER lucky) -- but keep hunting CL.

They're not so bad if you supply your own table-top.

This geekdesk looks like the desk I have. My situation is much like the op.

I started really getting back/shoulder/arm pains a few years back, so I started standing up all day. In the beginning it was really hard, but after about one month you sorta get used to it and develop the necessary muscles.

Another thing I can recommend is getting one of the good standing mats. Best one I've found is this one: http://www.kybun.com/products-and-stores/kybun-products/kybo...

They are comfortable standing on, and they make you change positition even more and excersize more different muscles in legs and knees.

What's wrong with a fixed standing desk with a drafting stool?

I like my Aeron for when I do have to sit.

It surprises me that guys will easily drop a thousand dollars every six to eight months on the latest phone, yet cheap out on their workspace. In fact I would be hard pressed to think of anything more worthy of my money than my desk and chair that I spend most of my day using.

Another thing is that most standing desks, including the one in the OP, seem to have a very small work area, which would be unacceptable to me (I like to draw stuff on paper).

I've got a very nice "bar stool."

Nothing at all. It is much cheaper and frees up money to spend on other things. I went this route and invested a little more in my keyboard/mouse/monitors with the savings.

I don't think people realize there are stool versions of many high end chairs so you can get the nice comfy chair + the ability to stand on the cheap!

This is my solution. It's cheaper and no less functional.

I didn't "get" standing desks at all till the last few months. Combined extended hours on long distance commuter buses, multi-hundred mile daily drives old home office chairs and crappy work office chairs have turned my lower back into a wreck.

I don't know if I could manage standing for long hours, but I imagine a nice stool, combined with adjusting into sitting for a few hours a day would do wonders.

However, the desks I use at both work and home run around $100-$130, it's hard to imagine spending $500+ on a desk with a bit more material and a simple up-down motor or manually adjusted height latches (or whatever).

In the meanwhile I'm working at a mix from home from my kitchen, my couch and a local coffee shop (with a nice easy walk to and fro) that seems to be helping.

Alternatively, you can put the standing desk in place, but have an rolling stool under it. Costs less, but us just as effective.

I've got an adjustable desk and I'm quite happy with it. I tend to alternate an hour standing with an hour sitting. I concur that when I'm standing, I'm a lot more likely to move around, e.g. to get a drink of water or use the toilet.

I stand my working time (for 3+ years now) behind a home made standing desk; when I feel the need to sit down, that's a break or end of the work day. Works really well.

Edit (reading through comments); I don't stand still; I walk in place.

Seems like you've struck the right balance!

Workfit is a great option that's easy to use when standing and sitting. It attaches to an existing table. It allows for two monitors and a keyboard at a nice height when standing and sitting.


Or sit on a couch for a lot less money.

I have this fantasy where my desk is able to attach rack mount chassis (u1/U2 x 2). It seems to me this would need to be a mod... Do you think the motor on these desks would be strong enough for such a feat?

A barstool is much cheaper than a motorized desk.

You should get a motorized chair like Dr. Evil.

> These desks are the norm in every office here in Denmark and I am always baffled that it is some kind of esoteric thing worthy of debate in America.

No company I've worked in within the U.S. has had a standing desk or even an adjustable-height desk that I can remember. It's a rare sighting for most.

In the U.S. cubicles are the norm, and their desk height isn't usually adjustable.

As for ergonomics, in the past few years I was working for a large institution owned by an even larger company that was all well-funded, and even their ergonomic team (yes, they had one) was completely inadequate. When I asked if they would assist me with recommendations for simple monitor and macbook stands, they stuttered and then suggested outlandishly expensive equipment ($3000 USD) just for a monitor stand! That would never be paid for as part of our team budget. So, when I told them this, they just said, "Then try Amazon." They never came by to measure me or ask me any relevant questions to help. It was a total farce. I ended up using books to lift my monitor and laptop to the correct position.

So basically, yes it seems esoteric here and products are pushed that are too damn expensive. I'm glad that you and your crew have nice desks. Thanks for the link and pic.

Be careful with an abrupt switch to a standing desk. Essentially, you need to build up core and leg strength over time to prevent strain.

I've been using a standing desk for a little over a year now and have many of the same observations as the OP. I also like to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day to mix it up. I'm never going back. But, when you first switch, you are probably putting a lot of stress on muscles that have atrophied from sitting so much. If you switch patterns too abruptly, you're likely to end up with a muscle strain or back problems, or will start leaning on your desk, which can cause problems with wrist injuries/carpel tunnel.


This is a guide that's been very popular over at r/fitness to correct "computer guy" posture: http://www.reddit.com/r/Fitness/comments/ewrr0/writeup_on_th...

I'm at an advanced level strength wise for overhead press, squats and bench press, and need a lot of core strength to handle my lifts, yet standing for a long time is still brutal because of my posture and lacking strength in various smaller muscles, as well as lack of flexibility in certain muscles.

It's getting better quickly (I don't use a standing desk, but I do specific work to improve my posture), but even for people who think they've got a steel core after exercise might get nasty surprises if they try to stand all day.

I can't upvote this enough.

I started standing a lot for reasons outside of work a few months ago. After two weeks of standing more than sitting I developed something called meralgia paresthetica, which at best is neverending thigh numbness (fun for my cat who can claw my bare thighs without me feeling any of it) and at worst insane, awful pain that wakes me up in the middle of the night even with painkillers. It has multiple causes (standing, in my case) but I've had to try to lose more weight (I'm overweight) and buy a new wardrobe (avoiding tight clothing) to make sure those also-known-causes don't make the pain worse. The best case for me is if this eventually clears up on its own soon, the worst case is surgery with no guarantee of going back to what things used to be. None of the conservative measures really work right now, with the exception of the MMJ I started to use because it's the only reliable thing that will dull the pain at small amounts and just not make me think about any of the pain when I'm high as a kite.

On the bright side I can stand for hours on end without having a problem. But I would trade that to never have this problem again in a heartbeat.

If you start noticing _any_ problems, you really need to go to a doctor immediately and stop what you're doing. Take it easy in the beginning. Hopefully you'll have more luck than me. :)

You deserve many upvotes. Couldn't agree more with both of your points.

Buy a stool so you can prop up while you're switching! Alternate frequently even after that like aliston says. I switched without a chair and it was a very uncomfortable/unproductive first week. In hindsight, that was a pretty stupid thing to do, just don't make the same mistake.

> I also like to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day to mix it up.

I want to get a motorized desk and switch between sitting and standing once an hour or so - something like that seems like the optimal solution.

This is a great point. I just dove in, but was in good shape to begin with, but I imagine for more sedentary people this could actually be a dangerous transition!

It's worth noting, for those who aren't aware, that current evidence (while scant) does not support the hypothesis that using a standing desk is healthier than using an ordinary sit-down desk. In fact, the evidence for ordinary desks being harmful is not nearly as strong as standing desk proponents would have you believe.

It certainly can't be taken as a given, though, that if long sedentary periods are harmful, long periods of standing still are significantly better.

The biggest draw for me had nothing to do with the supposed health benefits. For me, I found that I didn't get my 2:00 crash.

Before I started standing, I'd go out for lunch and come back around 1:00 or so. About 30 minutes to an hour later, I'd be fighting off hibernation. My post-eating-sleep-reflex thing was just absolutely overpowering. Even now, having to sit down for a meeting around that time of day has me close to nodding off.

When I stood, this was completely eliminated. I'm not a doctor, so I couldn't tell you why, but I am a lot more consistently alert/energetic while standing. This has been the big win for me over everything else.

The post-lunch dip can also be prevented by having a healthier lunch with less carbs (especially sugar and highly processed carbs). Go for a salad with meat or egg, and whole grain bread if you really need bread. And not more than one piece of bread. This has helped me a lot.

Also try the 'wheat belly' flax seed wraps - I just made one for the first time last night - AWESOME! Microwaved it for 3 minutes, and it tasted like a cross between a sandwich thin and french toast.


Even if standing all day and sitting all day come out to be equivalent, standing encourages you to move more. From pacing during a bout of thinking to taking a step back while you're idly reading some content to incorporating some spontaneous pushups into your day.

For me, that's actually the critical difference.

We've got standing desks at work and the advice we got from the ergonomist was that the advantage came from varying your position and to use then in the standing position for about an hour in the middle of the day.

What's your citation for that? If it's the Cornell study that circulated two years ago, most of the coverage was misleading.

Details: http://www.reddit.com/r/raldi/comments/kfjet/cornells_standi...

Well, there is the classic 1949 study about bus drivers in England having a higher incidence of heart attacks because of all the sitting.


Right, but that doesn't compare sitting and standing. It compares sitting and moving. Standing is not an aerobic activity, so it's way less likely that that will have cardiac benefits.

That's only studying one dimension. Isn't it entirely possible that one group has a lower heart attack risk, but the other has a higher rate of crippling joint degeneration?

Sure. Which one would you rather have? Pain or death?

Depends on how bad the pain was.

Care to provide some of that "current evidence"? Genuine question because the only papers I've come across show sitting to be pretty terrible

While there may not be evidence for it the amount of positve anecdotal stories seem to consistently say its better than sitting at a desk all day long.

This is unfortunately a perfect situation where anecdotes are not very valuable, as can be seen by the fact that the same pattern can be observed with obvious nonsense like hologram patches and magnetic bracelets. We see a typically less gullible set of subjects for these anecdotes, but that can unfortunately be explained entirely by the more plausible sounding hypothesis.

I'll dispense with the full Bayesian treatment here, but what we have here is a case of the base rate fallacy (although not the form that is usually discussed): failing to account for the prior probability of the evidence. That is, we have some evidence, which is that the anecdotes we see are largely in favor of standing desks being helpful, and we need to account for how likely that evidence is regardless of whether standing desks are helpful.

Unfortunately, as our friends with the magnetic bracelets demonstrate, that probability turns out to be very high. If something works, we see overwhelmingly positive anecdotes. If it doesn't work, we see overwhelmingly positive anecdotes.

Why might this be? Well, for one thing, there is sensitivity to placebo effects, because have purely qualitative phenomena that are being reported only subjectively.

But even stronger is a selection bias that has to do with people's behavior in reporting and reading. Someone is unlikely to write about their experiences publicly who tries a standing desk for a while, finds no significant benefit, and goes back to a sitting desk. She won't find it interesting to talk about, and she may also be self-conscious that she didn't do it right, and would be inviting criticism. After all "I tried X and it didn't work" is, on some level, an admission of personal failure, and people aren't particularly prone to those. And if she does write it up, her write-up isn't likely to get all that much attention because "X didn't work for me" isn't a particularly interesting story.

But one who finds the standing desk to be a miracle cure for all of her problems is relatively likely to write about it, and people will take notice, because "making a simple lifestyle change improved my quality of life" is an attention getter.

You're right, but that's still not an argument against trying a standing desk. If some people find them useful, and some don't, and assuming the cost of trying it is low, the rational thing to do is not to wait around until enough meta-studies are written for you to make a completely informed decision, but simply to try it out for yourself and see how you like it.

Sure, and I didn't mean to imply otherwise, but correctly evaluating the situation is still important. The cost/benefit does require evaluating the benefits, and the benefits actually play into the costs as well. If being sedentary is harmful and standing all day isn't a good solution, then it would be harmful to adopt a standing desk instead of exercising.

For my part, my week with a standing desk just led to upper back pain (which is not unusual for me, but I am generally able to avoid).

One of the points was about how he noticed his leg muscles growing, wouldent this be a way to quantify at least one positive aspect.

Yes there would, and that would be one of the more likely effects. But I have not seen an anecdote where someone actually did measure their muscles.

Having tried standing, I can tell you that I found it to be rather uncomfortable and unsettling. Standing upright is, in my opinion, a transition state. That is, you normally only stand upright in between walking and/or sitting. So, when I'm standing at a desk, I desperately want to be moving to the next state.

Physically, this works out okay for mousing tasks, since those are one handed and offer a large degree of freedom. However, it just doesn't work for two handed tasks, like programming or writing, which anchor both of your arms, because your arms are critical for balance and, thus, movement.

I also found that this desperation to move around while standing affected me mentally. That is, when standing, I was fine doing short, low-attention tasks like responding to email or IM, since I coud move a little between each task. However, for longer tasks (again, like programming or writing) I found this to be maddening. I felt as if I was constantly being tugged and distracted by this urge to move.

I've an architect's chair I got second hand. Sitting our standing takes no effort at all.

A thought-provoking comment from the article:

"""In time, you will suffer from various types of pain and injuries at blood vessels. Speak with a middle-aged barber with 30 years of "standing" experience, and ask him about his legs."""

I'm actually going to ask a few barbers. I'll tell you how it went once this kind of article pops up again (and it will).

So standing is a rick factor for the development of varicose veins. However. If you are standing at a desk you are most likely going to be making micro changes to your stance throughout which will act as a muscular pump, returning blood to your heart and reducing the venous pressure in your legs.

Surgeons for example are not at significantly higher risk than the average person for development of varicose veins because they are generally making small movements fairly consistently. A guard in a pillbox outside Windsor castle, on the other hand, would be at a higher risk because he is not supposed to be making the micromovements that will return the blood and reduce venous pressure, potentially causing valvular incompetence and dilated superficial leg veins specially if predisposed genetically.

Source: med student, asked lecturers about this specifically and have talked to numerous surgeons.

And as someone in the article mentioned, using compression stockings would obviate any concerns that a person may have

I know it's a sample of 1, but the female barber I visited the last time does in fact have visible varicose veins. The male barber wasn't wearing stockings.

That's why I have a bar 15 inches high that runs beneath my desk. I can put a foot up on in it and change position every 5-10 minutes.

Of course a person can get support socks.

I've had a herniated disk (L4-L5) for several years, and tried a lot of different things - pilates, physical therapy, epidural steroid injections, special chairs, etc. Using a standing desk has been a godsend for me. I no longer fear inducing any back spasms after prolonged sitting.

That said, my feet hurt at the end of the day, and I still need to sit from time to time to take the weight off my feet. Am looking into padded shoes, but it's interesting to see that Arshad didn't need any special padding after a couple years.

Padded shoes may actually be counterproductive.

The problem with padding is that humans actually already have an extremely sophisticated active shock and balance system in our ankles and knees, and when you add a passive system like padding on the feet, you force that system to work harder and adjust in unnatural ways. Essentially, you're setting yourself up to always be walking on unsteady ground.

So you might want to first try going barefoot for a while, and see if that helps. If you aren't accustomed to standing barefoot for long periods, it will take some time for your body to adjust, but I suspect that you will adjust faster to that than to padding.

When I was working in NYC's Dogpatch Labs, some of the other entrepreneurs were doing the standing desk thing. Many liked to stand without wearing shoes. I think you're onto something.

Thanks for the suggestion! I've been wearing orthotics for a while actually, and I'm going to talk to my podiatrist to see if I still need them.

Also, I'm curious if compression stockings mitigate soreness when standing for prolonged periods. I talked to a surgeon who says they've helped him his feet feel better while operating hours at a time.

I actually wear compression calf sleeves (same as I do for basketball) sometimes when working at my standing desk, and I do notice a positive difference.

I do often wear a pair of padded sandals instead of just standing on the carpet, though. I have an anti-fatigue mat too, but the sandals work better.

Buy an anti-fatigue floor mat. It's what letter carriers who stand sorting mail and factory workers use http://www.officedepot.com/a/browse/antifatigue-floor-mats/N...

I experienced this, too, and found that self-massaging the bottoms of my feet with a bouncing ball (under the arch and the heel), while excrutiatingly painful at first, has completely gotten rid of my foot pain. Give it a try.

Try going completely bare-foot. (not always possible in office environments).

This. Your feet have been designed by millions of years of evolution to support the weight of your body. The technology in your flesh and blood is at least several decades and probably several centuries ahead of anything human technology can achieve. Exploit this difference. Be barefoot as often as possible. http://edge.org/conversation/brains-plus-brawn

I find that my heels hurt, which seems to happen because standing with my feet closer to the desk and heels pressed firmly to the ground requires less calf-muscle effort. If I concentrate on it a bit, I'll move my feet back a couple of inches and rest on the balls of my feet, which stops any pain and feels altogether better.

If you try this, be sure you don't half-ass it. I tried a standing desk, but couldn't raise the desk I had high enough. I tried putting my mouse and keyboard on top of other objects to give extra height, but eventually gave up because it was too difficult. I stayed standing, though, and the angle I bent my wrist at for so long has seriously messed up my right wrist. Even after returning to my usual sitting desk for months, the pain hasn't gone away (it's actually gotten worse) and I'm looking for a good rheumatologist.

Do not half-ass a standing desk.

I can't share 2 years worth of experience with a standing desk, but at least 3 weeks after I built mine at home. I only use it in the evenings since at work I don't really have a choice in the first place. I was suffering from back pain, and after 3 weeks using my standing desk for a few hours every day at home, most of the back pain is gone. On top of that, I used to fall asleep while sitting in front of my computer if I stayed up too long, but now this never happens - when standing I do feel more motivation and energy to do things, and I can see I have done more things on my TO-DO list in the past 3 weeks than I expected.

The only drawback is that when I feel too tired in the first place, I have no desire and energy to even stand up in the first place. But maybe that's not a bad sign. It shows I should be resting instead of using my computer.

I'm surprised no one has recommended MultiTable yet. They sell a sturdy, adjustable, standing desk for under $500. The only problem (feature?) is that it doesn't come with a table top. I solved for that by buying one from IKEA for ~$50 and screwing it in. The whole setup process took about an hour and now I've got a standing desk at home! It only takes a few seconds of using the hand-crank to lower or raise it to whatever height I want, and the crank isn't even obtrusive. I recommend the desk to anyone who's looking for an adjustable standing desk but doesn't want to pay an arm and a leg for the motorized feature/power drain.

edit: amazon link http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005NJUQVG

I've been looking into this but haven't taken the leap yet because I decided I wanted an external monitor and keyboard. A standing setup with a laptop seems less than optimal from an ergonomic point of view. Isn't it better to decouple the keyboard and monitor so that you can place the monitor and keyboard each at the optimal height? I've done some informal testing with stacked books and couldn't find a height that was comfortable for both viewing and typing on my Macbook. Comfortable typing height makes me hunch over to look at the screen.

I'm always a bit baffled when people build something to prop up their laptop. I guess mostly because I'm an a country where you're not allow (legally) to use a laptop as a permanent workstation, unless you have an external monitor, keyboard and mouse.

To have a comfortable standing position, you really need to be able to move your monitor separately from the keyboard. Most monitors doesn't really allow you to adjust their height, even iMacs just allow you to tilt the screen, which isn't what you want. If you want to switch position during the day, you either need a really good desk where you can rise the monitor separately or a monitor where the "neck" extends.

Wait, what? Your government actually regulates what can and cannot be used as a permanent workstation? What country do you live in? How does that even work?

Germany here. It's a kind of a safety regulation. Think of it as a right that the employee has. The employee has to provide the equipment and supplies that you need to do your work, and equipment that prevents "injuries" (wrong term for the long term effect of bad ergonomics) is amongst the equipment you need. So if you work at a desk with a computer, you are entitled to a separate monitor and keyboard and mouse.

If you don't want to use the keyboard, you can set it aside, of course. But it's there for you to use it if you like.

Here in the US we have OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, who make rules designed to prevent employers from setting up working conditions that promote injuries/illnesses. I don't know if they have rules specifically about laptops, but that would definitely be the kind of rule they make.

OSHA is basically a big joke. My father owns a factory and has had an OSHA inspection only once in almost 30 years. Doubt they even get around to visiting offices.

But couldn't a worker file a lawsuit? I think the big enforcer of policy is employee lawsuits, not government inspections.

I'm in Denmark, and yes it does work. Companies get their work conditions checked every two or three years, an office worker is no different from a construction-, warehouse- or factory-worker. Two years ago we got a remark for being on the floor, rather than tied up under the desks, we got two weeks to change it. In the end you'll get fined if you do not comply.

Most companies don't really think about it, providing adjustable desks, external monitors, dockingstations, etc. is just the norm.

I've been using a standing desk since Jan 2011 [1], and ended up using an external keyboard and mouse to solve the problem of having things at the optimal height. Since I have two machines, I just run synergy to go back and forth between my desktop and laptop, but hooking up directly to the laptop would work just the same.

[1] http://elasticdog.com/2011/01/shelf-made-standing-desk/

That's right, you do not want your hands and screen to be so close together. Think about it: how often do you keep your hands in your line of site for extended periods of time?

You do it momentarily to look at what your manipulating, but its not very comfortable for extended periods, since it requires that you're either craning your neck to look at your lap or keeping your arms extended out in front of your body.

I'm using an external mouse and keyboard with my laptop at the same level as my 2nd monitor. It works pretty well.

You're doing it wrong.

Working on a laptop only all day long is insane. You need to separate screen an keyboard, otherwise one of them will be at the wrong height! If you use a laptop, it means you need to add an external keyboard.

Everything else makes absolutely no ergonomic sense!

Example: http://www.ergotron.com/ProductsDetails/tabid/65/PRDID/320/l... You can sit and then stand up by just pulling the table up easily with one hand.

I always find this weird, that when people start talking about office ergonomics, they so frequently ignore the laptop elephant in the room. Laptops are convenient, but they are not ergonomic.

In my own office, I have to badger people to accept a monitor and separate keyboard. Usually they resist because "laptops are cool!", but after they actually try a bigger, separate screen and moveable keyboard, they would never be without them.

As for the best keyboard I've ever used:

http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/freestyle2.htm (Freestyle2 VIP3; forget the "Ascent")

I'm severely flat footed (wet footprint has no arch) and standing more than a few minutes starts to hurt my feet. Anyone else flat footed who tried a standing desk?

I am flat footed. I bought a standing mat (one that is made for a kitchen/workshop) and then got some great shoes (ones intended for nurses and doctors). I did this about 1 week into switching to a standing desk cold turkey. I switched almost 2 years ago now (22 months ago), and sometimes I may go a day sitting at home with my laptop... and I really am happy when I get back to my standing desk at my office the next day.

Proper shoes. Yes! I used to wear lead gowns in operating theaters, adding 20kgs to my existing 100kgs (I'm a smidge and 2m). My feet were absolute agony after each shift. Changing to good shoes and a theatre upgrade that made installed squishy Lino helped a lot (with a big downside - pushing 500kg x-ray gear was not that much easier than pushing it through sand would have been. I effectively plowed the floor every time I more it). Get good shoes!

Any favorite brands?

My wife is a nurse and swears by Dansko shoes and clogs. In fact, go spend a couple minutes at your nearest hospital during shift change and count how many people are wearing them, you'll probably be surprised. They don't have the widest selection however...


Not sure if you can get them everywhere (and the brand name is terrible) Hush Puppies. I am very hard on shoes. I bought a new pair every three months until I found Hush Puppies and I'm now on my second pair that have each lasted over a year. Good brands or bad cheap ones, all lasted weeks or a a few months. I have never had shoes last as long as Hush Puppies before. I've always related it to my weight. I weigh quite a lot and manufacturers seem to make shoes bigger, but not stronger. I go for the shoes they describe as being made for airports, which somehow means they are good for standing (wasn't aware the DHS, border control etc let you keep your shoes on!) www.hushpuppies.com

You could try strengthening your arches by doing appropriate exercise. Running barefoot does this (I run barefoot because it feels nice, but I noticed an increase in foot strength too). Start very slowly if you go that route; no more than a few minutes of running per day at first.

I'm sure the internet has more ideas in case you're not into running.

As with any of these types of issues it'll take dedication to fix, but if you truly can't stand for more than a few minutes the benefits should more than make up for that.

In addition to this, standing barefoot while coding.

I am also completely flat footed (wet footprint has no arch) and I was using a standing desk for 6 months with no issues.

I wore running shoes, stood on a thin pad (the floor is hard tile), and took sitting breaks in a bar stool about 3 times a day for 20 minutes. I also had a bar about 15 inches off the ground for me to put a foot up on (this is a must as far I'm concerned).

Basically if you are wearing shoes you can walk/run in, they should be good enough for standing.

A colleague who is flat footed uses standing desks with us. She decided recently to get surgery done to fix that flat footed issue and so far so good.

I have flat feet and love my drafting desk/stool I use for my desktop setup. I can sit and stand as I need, the only trick is that a high draftsman's stool is a little trickier to scoot into than a chair. That said, this is my home geekery setup and not my work setup so I don't do it 8 hours straight everyday.

Have you considered getting a orthopedic insert? I'm also flat footed and had enormous problems with both my legs / knees and my back before getting them.

I'm in the same boat. Buying a cushioned mat made the difference between having to sit after a few hours and being able to comfortably stand all day long.

I had a standing desk once, but after a few months, I found I had to sit to get any serious thinking done. Anyone else experienced this phenomenon?

I had the same experience, though I've been trying them on-and-off for years now. Walter Murch (demi-god of film editing) has an interesting take on it.

"Unlike most film editors today, Murch works standing up, comparing the process of film editing to "conducting, brain surgery and short-order cooking", since all conductors, cooks and surgeons stand when they work. In contrast, when writing, he does so lying down. His reason for this is that where editing film is an editorial process, the creation process of writing is opposite that, and so he lies down rather than sit or stand up, to separate his editing mind from his creating mind."

Maybe we should refactor standing up and write code sitting down?


He said lying down, now sitting. I usually code lying down, myself. But I certainly don't stand to refactor; it'd be easy to try, though it seems a little out there.

True, thanks for catching that. I prefer to write code lying on the couch, too, though I never noticed this before. Does anyone else code lying down?

How does the ergonomics of this work? The intellectual part of writing code may be improved, but physically typing the code while on the couch can't be a good thing.

(Typed while laying in bed, in a way that would certainly screw up my wrists if I did this long term.)

I use Vim, both for writing code and as a chrome plugin, so I'm usually just hitting a few keys in normal mode, or whatever autocomplete tells me, with the occasional swipe at the trackpad. I've never had any wrist pain on the couch. My macbook air is pretty ancient but it's still super light so I can just prop it wherever.

Separate keyboard (a Kinesis) on legs slightly bent. I'll prop up the laptop keyboard (like right now) for brief typing, but I agree that'd suck for serious work.

I am not an ergonomics authority.

I have a treadmill desk at home and find I sometimes have to stand still to get serious thinking done. A slow walk (around 1mph) is easier on the feet, though.

This was how it was for me for the first month or two, but now I go nuts unless I can stand and pace while thinking. It's a more alert position for me.

Initially it seemed like my brain was so concerned with the change in routine that I was constantly reminding myself that something was amiss. Fortunately, what is new and novel eventually becomes the norm with enough time.

I don't know whether your standing desk experience is generally applicable, but I do know good marketing when I see it. Well-played, sir! I expect Power 20 will sell a few more units.

>I raised my computer 5 inches higher than when I first started because I was bending my head too far forward. My keyboard is now at chest level and my eyes are looking slightly downward at about 105º.

been to chiropractor recently and he shown me X-ray of my neck. This bending forward is actually an unnatural straightening of the neck where it normally would be curved. Cause for a host of issues now and in future.

I would be weary of putting too much credence into that particular diagnosis. Very few people have the "recommended" neck curve. For unscrupulous chiropractors, it's something they can easily point at as something that needs fixing and they'll present you with a "treatment plan" that requires regular visits over the next X months.

There's almost nothing in the way of unbiased research which has shown the neck angle to be the problem they say it is.

Agreed. The key word that should be red flagging this post is 'chiropractor'

you guys have typical case of Dunning-Kruger.

Do you have immediate friends or family treated by chiropractor (i have), have you seen chiropractor yourself (i have). Can you point any specific respectable publication which dismiss chiropractors as a whole or shows significant presence of "unscrupoluousness"? Until that your groundless dismissal of the whole class of professional people and their practice is just it, groundless childish dismissal.

And I diagnose you with a severe case of confirmation bias.

Start here: http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/3801081.htm

Shift over here for some overview: http://crookedtimber.org/2009/06/04/if-this-is-evidence-base...

Then jump into the hard science at SBM: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/chiropractic-a-brief-ove...


It's not acusing someone from a position of superiority if a profession has continually shown itself incapable of eliminating the pseudoscience in its practice, which is most of it. A claim could be made that Chiropractory is largely fraud based on their incredibly weak evidence base and the fact they are charging money for treatment that is no better than placebo.

Have a nice day!



that was, almost word for word, among the things that was explained to me by the chiropractor [when he shown me the disk deformation on my X-ray - abnormally straight neck and thus abnormally compressing the front side of the disks] :

"As the discs collapse and grow thinner, the head tilts forward and the neck begins to curve forward. This begins a process that may continue to progress for years. The weight of the head causes an imbalance of forces pushing the neck increasingly forward. This slowly leads to an increasing curve and may end with a kyphosis. "

And I notice, nowhere in there does it say anything about chiropractic manipulation as treatment. I would still caution against putting too much into it until you get a second opinion from a neurologist.

>And I notice, nowhere in there does it say anything about chiropractic manipulation as treatment.

we were arguing diagnosis, hence the link that quick search brought.

I'm really surprised by the prejudice [especially baseless prejudice which is just plain offensive] against chiropractors that i met in this thread. I understand that you(+your family) had mixed experience and that provides basis for your opinion. My experience is completely different.

Even without going into personal experiences and opinions which as we see may vary (like in the case of regular medicine as well), the objectively most important fact here is that insurance covers chiropractors - this is ultimate and most important endorsement in the US :) - speaking from my personal experience of fighting an insurance several years ago when they refused to pay for a procedure an MD performed on me.

Wrt. my experience with chiropractors. My father was successfully treated for back pain by a chiropractor 30 years ago back in Soviet Union, and my wife got successfully treated for a joint issue here recently, and in my case everything has so far been consistent with my knowledge/understanding as well as with medical info i could find.

So, i don't see any reasons to worry or be suspicious with chiropractors beyond what would be typical and prudent in any other encounter with any other medical professional.

Do a more thorough search. I've done a bit more and have found no one but chiropractors suggesting chiropractics to fix this problem. Also note, while your link mentions degeneration, it is much less common of a cause than a congenital defect or the result of a medical treatment.

The prejudice is based on their ignorance of science. In fact, traditionally, chiropractics totally eschews science in exchange for philosophy. This leads to chiropractors using techniques that have been shown to be harmful, such as doing spinal manipulation to fix nerve impingement, which is contraindicated by numerous studies. Additionally, there are still many chiropractors that are anti-immunization, another scientifically baseless position, but one that is dangerous for both the individual and society.

Insurance coverage is not an endorsement whatsoever. It is the effect of heavy lobbying on the part of chiropractors. Remember, insurance is not incentivized to do what is best for the patient.

man, i'm sorry, but your stretch your personal unfortunate experience too far. Such broad statements require good links. I already posted this in the other place : http://nccam.nih.gov/health/chiropractic/introduction.htm

What is the point of this link? NIH is policy, not science. You have failed to provide a single piece of scientific research that chiropractors can properly diagnose and treat kyphosis.

On the other hand, problems with the practice are widely documented: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/may/14/dangers-...

>What is the point of this link? NIH is policy, not science.

that is outright fantasy.


"NIH is made up of 27 Institutes and Centers, each with a specific research agenda, often focusing on particular diseases or body systems."

My experience with a specific NIH's center - NCBI - and their work clearly correlates with it, they [ ie. their own researchers] are doing fundamental science.

The rest of your statements goes the same way.

I'm a medical student, I know what a kyphosis is. Your link doesn't for a moment tell me why chiropractic is an above board profession or if there is any evidence base for their profession. All you have pointed me to is some content that is the same as what I have sitting in dozens of textbooks in my bookshelf

> I know what a kyphosis is.

may be now you do. Couple comments up - you obviously didn't as you so eagerly agreed with tghw's doubting what abnormal cervical curvature can be a problem :)

No, I was doubting a diagnosis by a chiropractor, and what ensued was a brief debate regarding the merits of chiropractic as a profession. Chiropractors are notorious for taking X-rays and making diagnoses based off abnormalities they detect, wich they find with alarming regularity (ie bringing into question whether there is an actual abnormality or if they are simply 'anomaly hunting'). Additionally, the symptoms they ascribe to these problems are awfully general and could generally apply to most people, most of the time

>I was doubting a diagnosis by a chiropractor

yep, it was a sole basis of you doubt. Even though tghw was outright trashing neck angle problem, you still supported the trashing because diagnosis comes from chiropractor. Evidence based reasoning coming from a future medical doctor i guess ...

> Chiropractors are notorious

... and more of it.

> Evidence based reasoning coming from a future medical doctor i guess ...

Precisely. What is your problem with this? Chiropractic is a pseudo-profession. It is well established in scientific fields as a pseudo-profession and it has done very little to try and shed this image, besides making ad-homenim (if you can call it that) attacks against the rest of science screaming of prejudice.

You wouldn't hire a pseudo-coder to build a program for you and you shouldn't pay a pseudo-doctor to treat you.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say you didn't even look at my references (that you asked for) regarding chiropractic. That's okay. I understand you are a 'true believer', are not going to look at resources I have provided, and are not even really debating whether or not chiropractic is a worthwhile field of human endeavour; instead we are debating your belief. And I just want to say I am not challenging your belief, you are free to believe whatever you want. But I am not, in fact, suffering from Dunning-Kruger in this instance; I am not unskilled, in fact my entire tertiary study (10 years worth now) has been in science and healthcare. and the balance of evidence is against your position; which is what I supported tghw on; and was communicating to the greater audience on HN, including yourself.

To continue to claim that I am attacking chiropractic because I 'dont know' or 'don't believe' is an empty statement, because I understand the available evidence, and my statements in these posts have been consistent with the published scientific concensus.

i did look at your links. Your "hard science" - SBM - is a personal, and shall we say "alternative", endeavor of a group of people having different opinion, and posting it is equivalent to like if i posted links to chiropractic sites. I was surprised by the low quality of your links, so i didn't even mention them.

Instead, one can look at NIH site:


After that we can look at your statements:

>Chiropractic is a pseudo-profession. It is well established in scientific fields as a pseudo-profession and it has done very little to try and shed this image, besides making ad-homenim (if you can call it that) attacks against the rest of science screaming of prejudice.

yep, man, calling it a pseudo-profession in the face of NIH is a definition of ad-homenim. As well as calling 'true believer' people whose opinion is supported by NIH, yet contradict your own. Speaking about 'true believers' :)

SBM is a collection of trained physicians writing about the problems with non-scientific based medicine. Calling it "personal" and "alternative" is just an ad hominem attack. You totally failed to address the content of the article.

On your link: It is a summary of chiropractics, along with a summary of studies discussing what treatments may or may not help. It is lacking substance and has no new information that was missing from the SBM links.

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it." -Neil deGrasse Tyson

>SBM is a collection of trained physicians writing about the problems with non-scientific based medicine.

The guys clearly have an agenda, and their opinion of what is "non-scientific based medicine" clearly goes against NIH, a top medical research organization. One is free to pick a side, a top medical research organization or the alternative :)

> You totally failed to address the content of the article.

i didn't even planned on doing it. My word against SBM, even when NIH's word is supposedly not enough? Are you kidding?

>On your link: It is a summary of chiropractics, along with a summary of studies discussing what treatments may or may not help. It is lacking substance and has no new information that was missing from the SBM links.

exactly - summary by NIH is just some fluff that is "lacking substance". Man, i rest my case.

I've dealt with a number of chiropractors. I go to one several times a year and have for the past decade.

There are those I respect and there are those that are scam artists. The ones I respect are the ones that know the limits of their practice. The ones that are scam artists often use x-rays and neck angle to dupe people into "treatment" they don't need, using words like "natural healing power" and "life force".

The over-arching problem is twofold.

First, like many alternative treatments, there is very little real scientific research backing up their methods. Within chiropractics, they do studies, but they typically fail to meet scientific rigor in a number of areas, including controlling for bias and methodology.

Second, and much more worrisome, is that chiropractors are not medical doctors and are rarely trained to properly refer people when a problem is outside their area of expertise. I've seen this with both of my parents. My mother had knee pain, which the chiropractor (which was one of the ones I respected) insisted was an alignment issue. In reality, she needed a whole knee replacement, and suffered unnecessarily for a number of months before seeing an orthopod, because the chiropractor insisted he could fix it.

My father had severe shoulder pain, extending all the way down to his fingers, and eventually started losing functionality in that hand. Again, the chiropractor thought he could fix it. My father had a severely herniated disk which was impinging a nerve. Again, he suffered unnecessarily because chiropractors do not refer people when they're out of their element. Finally, a neurologist determined that surgery was the only way to fix the problem, which it did. He has regained 95% of the function of his hand.

I think chiropractors have their place and can help with some skeletal alignment issues, but there are significant problems with the industry as well, and people should be aware of them before going in.

As with all doctors, second opinions should be sought. There are plenty of quack MDs out there too. I've seen a few of them. They tend to gravitate toward treating more nebulous diseases, but not always.

All respectable publications dismiss chiropractors as a whole.

Possibly, but straightening of the cervical spine is a real condition and it can be treated. I know because I have it, and I was diagnosed by an orthopedic surgeon.

And if an orthopod diagnoses it, then it's probably legitimate. What I was saying is that, in my experience trying to find good chiropractors, the ones that jump straight to x-rays and neck angle are highly correlated with scams.

From my experience, keep your elbows at a 90 degree angle and make sure you're looking straight ahead, or very slightly down.

Also, don't listen to people who say buy some expensive adjustable desk. I wrote about building my treadmill desk and other standing desks here: http://reustle.io/blog/cant-stand-sitting

I'm about to put together a cheap treadmill desk. Any tips, or resources you can recommend? I'm a bit of noob at hardware hacking.

Do you already have a treadmill? If not, grab whatever quality you can afford from craigslist. I didn't do any electronics hacking on mine. I took a few trips to Home Depot to buy misc hardware for the monitor mount and keyboard base. It was mostly a result of trial and error taken one piece at a time (monitor mount, then keyboard mount). Feel free to contact me directly if you want me to look over any mockups or have any other questions.

My big regret with my treadmill desk was the noise level. Definitely test anything before purchase to see if you can comfortably talk over it and think without distraction.

I think most decent quality treadmills tend to be noisy. I use noise canceling headphones to listen to music (or nothing) when I'm on the desk.

I've been standing since 2007 and I love it. An external monitor and keyboard setup is important for me, since the laptop keyboard and monitor are too close together to be able to both type comfortably and see the screen with my neck in a good position, but that might just be because I am very tall and have a long torso.

I have arrived at a very interesting angle for my keyboard which I haven't seen elsewhere. I use the Kinesis Advantage and built a little wedge out of wood to stand it on so that the keyboard is pitched in the opposite direction than most. It is arranged to be much higher at the front than the back, almost vertical, so I can type without bending my wrists or elbows at all. Can't see the key caps in this arrangement but I can touch type with my eyes closed.

I also have a huge external touchscreen monitor designed for windows 8 that I managed to get working on the mac. It's much nicer to use than a mouse or a trackpad although making extremely precise mouse movements is hard and I keep a regular mouse around to use when needed.

>I use the Kinesis Advantage and built a little wedge out of wood to stand it on so that the keyboard is pitched in the opposite direction than most.

MS Natural started doing "reverse tilt" since the first version and still going strong with it.

I use Kinesis Advantage too and had to build stand from cardboard and scotch tape to add reverse tilt - otherwise I get wrist pain. It boggles my mind that $300+ keyboard doesn't have this basic feature built-in (and don't even start me on split, why, why they removed splitted version with optional touchpad?).

I have the same keyboard (with a Kinesis keyboard tray) and while it's not as sloped as yours, I'm maxed out on negative angle (while sitting).

The most important thing is that the keyboard height and slope match so your wrists are straight. In general, I prefer having my elbows more open because I find that minimizes arm fatigue, but having the elbows open would definitely not be a plus if it forced your wrists into extension.

I would be very careful with that keyboard set up. It sounds very likely to cause RSI problems.

Can you explain?

I was searching for evidence, and it appears I may be wrong. Cornell (http://ergo.human.cornell.edu/ahtutorials/typingposture.html) is one example that seems to think your set up is better than normal.

Cool, thanks. That is a useful page.

The reason I arrived at the setup I have is because I got RSI and first switched to a standing desk where my elbows were bent, which caused even more pain. I was forced to try different positions until I arrived at the one that I use now, in which I tried to keep my joints in as neutral a position as possible.

"Hang on, I will see if we have a model in stock" and the sales representative walks over to a near standing desk in the store with a computer connected to the inventory system only to return 5 minutes later with the information which answers my question.

Funny how I have this feeling that when using a standing desk one will have the continous urge to walk away. I just fail to imagine how someone will stand the entire day behind a desk; I have actually never heard of standing desks before being used for full time operations. What if you want to take a minute of? As in just lounging back in a traditional chair and look at the screen for a while? You walk a circle? For the life of me! What do you do if you have a break? Eat whilst standing?

I have a GeekDesk Pro and I would highly recommend it. GeekDesk's customer service is fantastic. Incidentally, I customized mine with a custom alder wood desktop, stained a kind of cedar color.

I change up standing and sitting a few times a day. You burn about 100 calories an hour just from standing, so standing for about 6 hours a day you burn an extra 600 calories. Makes a difference. Plus, much better for your posture and lower back.

However, you shouldn't be looking down at your monitor. It should be at eye level. A monitor arm can help with that.

I find it best to move between sitting/standing. I sit in the morning and stand in the afternoon. Standing in the afternoon gets/keeps circulation going and prevents that drowsy feeling that can sap productivity after work.

Something else that's great to add: a bicycle. I sold my car and commute by bike to/from work about 7 miles each way. The added leg strength is amazing, not to mention it tightens your core, which helps with back pain, and there are cardio benefits, too.

It's also a lot of fun. I look for excuses to ride my bike.

I did the standing desk for a few months and then added a treadmill and that went for another few months and then jerry-rigged by own seating on top. When I want to use the treadmill , I just move my saddle stool forward under the desk and when I am tired or need to focus switch to my saddle seating. It cost me about 200$ all told for the desk, treadmill and the saddle bar stool (craigslist + amazon). Image: http://imgur.com/xq3KkFa

Standing desk user for like 5 years or so, I also use a stool.

My computers are at standing eye level, I use a high stool for myself, and a lower stool for my legs.

Very important: I use plain sole slippers so my posture and muscles adapt to naked feet. Your muscles will adapt to whatever you use for hundreds of hours. If you always use shoes with heels you won't be able to use other things, and your back muscles will develop a strange posture for balancing your body, which will make your knees suffer. It is also much better for transpiration, no fungus, no odor.

At first I was the only one to use slippers at work, now everybody at my place does.

Over half of my time I stay on my stool, with my legs on the other stool, over half I stand up.

I love it, why? My back is always straight in both cases. You became stronger, your body is activated when standing up, as there is a reflex to relax when sitting down, when you stand up your heart needs more pressure, it is the natural thing to do for humans, we are designed for that.

BEWARE: If you try it, and you have trained your body to sit down for years it will take you at least 3 to 4 months for your new musculature to develop, so you need to plan a transition strategy. Buy a stool and go step by step.

PS: Also learn good posture from a good yoga or martial arts instructor.

Read books like this: http://www.amazon.com/Steps-Pain-Free-Back-Solutions-Shoulde...

This [1] is my desk, and I love it (I actually have 2 in a half circle, one PC one Mac). I've added a second deck, and the Mac side as 2 cinema displays on arms so they can be raised to eye level when standing.

Now this is a little expensive setup, but I LOVE it, and feel it was absolutely worth the investment. I've been using it for a few years now. It is not motorized, since you only lift the keyboard mouse section, and it is couter blanaced by spring to make that easy. This actually makes it very fast and easy to switch and cheaper at the same time. I strongly prefer that over motorized or full surface movable desks.

Regardless of how you do it, almost everyone who can stand should have a standing/sitting desk that adjusts easily. It makes a big difference in your health and mood even if you rarely switch modes. Often when you need to switch you really need to switch.

[0] http://www.anthro.com/products/fit-console

Off-by-one error on your URI list there ;0)>

Haha, er trying to keep people on their toes. You win.

I've been using an Ikea standing desk [1] off and on for a year and a half but most recently all day for the past two months. I definitely feel better overall (energy, alertness, etc) vs sitting. I have a trackball mouse and Kinesis Freestyle 2 keyboard in addition to a raised external monitor and laptop stand for ergonomics. The first two weeks my legs were very tired at the end of the day but now I'm used to it. I have a padded mat and use a chair to kneel on to switch up my posture and shift weight throughout the day. Now that I'm adjusted I don't think I'll ever go back to sitting.

1 - http://iamnotaprogrammer.com/Ikea-Standing-desk-for-22-dolla...

I've been standing for a year, no negative side effects to report. Initially my concentration did go down, I think it's now probably back to normal levels.

One positive, if you work things other than typing it's much easier now to sketch or assemble hardware. Typing etc is about the same. I do use a foot pad and it provides a noticeable difference.

One thing that was not obvious at first was that the biggest difference to foot fatigue/knots has been the type of shoe. I find that Converse 'Chucks' cause the least fatigue. Funnily enough I have the same shoes from Zara that OP has, and they were brutal on my feet in comparison to others.

Also to note, I thought that standing would reduce my levels of hip, calf, and ankle tightness after workouts... that hasn't been the case.

Glad to hear author has had mostly positive experiences. A couple ways to improve his ergonomics even more:

1. Eyes should face straight ahead, not down. This keeps neck in vertically aligned position

2. Elbows should be at 90 degree angle. This will reduce tension on biceps caused from elbows at an acute angle.

The end of last year, I had a microdiscectomy for a severely ruptured disc. L5/S1.

Soon thereafter, I made the switch to the standing desk via the $22 IKEA standing desk.

It's been great. Don't get me wrong, the first couple weeks sucked. Feet hurt, legs ached but eventually I adjusted. A fatigue mat helps, sometimes a wear shoes or padded sandles, sometimes barefoot.

I can't go back.

In fact, I tried to switch back, couldn't do it. Did it for a week, switched back to the standing desk.

I keep a fairly tall stool nearby, sometimes you just gotta take a load off, but its great.

Fortunately I work from home, however I might be in trouble if I have to find a new job.

I recommend giving it a shot if you've considered it. $22 is a pretty low price to pay. And if those anti-sedentary guys are right, maybe you'll live longer!

I am a little under a year in, biggest piece of advice is to watch your wrists.

Make sure you keys are high enough to keep the discourage any pressure from leaning forward. Even more important if you use a mouse.

I originally had mine about 2-3 inches too low. After two weeks - major pain.

I have two colleagues who now have walking desks: Desks with a treadmill underneath it.

It's certainly odd watching them in video conferences as their heads bob up and down while we're all chatting. But it seems like a great way to stay fit.

I don't have one, but I'm planning to build one in the near future. I've come to realize that the real problem with sitting is that it puts the body in stasis and standing doesn't really solve this.

Nice. My office just got these for everyone about 2 weeks ago. At first my feet were sore, but now I'm fine after about a week. Note that I already jog for 20-30mins every morning so maybe I adapted a bit quicker than some. I think the big change for me is that standing seems to reduce hunger and my tendency to snack on stuff. Also, my stomach has stopped making those gurgle-sounds that eating lunch then immediately sitting down for a hour seems to cause. I also feel more energetic. Since I'm standing, coding and listening polskastacja online radio(Google it!) I'm usually kinda dancing in place most of the day. ^_^

Perhaps sitting for long periods was a trigger for unhealthy snacking habits for you. That alone could actually account for a major difference in energy levels.

You don't really have to choose between a standing or sitting desk nor spend a ton of money on a motorized desk. Just get or build a standing height table and buy a drafting stool:


You can sit and you can stand. And, you get lots of permanent room under the table that you would not have if the table was adjustable. I did one of our labs this way and it was fantastic.

I have been doing this for about a month now. I am kicking myself for not having made the switch anytime sooner. Come to think of it, I feel humans are just not designed to sit for long hours in chairs. Standing position is natural. You feel free and are less constrained compared to a sitting position. Posture changes happen a lot more; And breaks you take are more active or sometimes continuous. They also become less of a chore.

If there is an iota of doubt in your mind, that sitting for long hours is somehow screwing up your back then please switch to a standing desk.

From personal experience, standing desks are great for back problems or preventing them. However even after about four years of doing it I find that you either need a lot of padding for your heels or you need to learn to stand using the front portion of your feet.

Looking at the post about the only I don't like is that Arshad's setup doesn't look ergonomic. I tend to have the keyboard about the same height as my waist with my monitor closer in height to my head. For me when I didn't have that setup, I began to have neck and wrist issues.

I use a standing desk with a bar chair (?) to sit down from time to time. Been using it for a year; initially I'd get tired of standing, but with time it became easy to stand for prolonged periods of time. Here's my setup: http://i.imgur.com/PjpwQXc.jpg (it's a little DIY :)

FWIW, I've had lower back issues for a long time, and this one change seems to have improved my condition more than the multitude of exercises and treatments I've tried over the years.

I have an almost identical laptop table[1]. Is it a popular design? One Chinese factory, 20 distributors all over the world kind of thing?

Anyway, when I use it in a standing desk configuration, I keep it much lower, so my arms just drop onto the computer. It's rather nice but I prefer to regularly (every hour or two) switch positions -- standing desk, lie down, sit on the floor...

[1] http://www.silentiumpc.com/en/atlas-nt-l10-notebook-table/?l...

Is there a possibility of getting Varicose veins in your legs by doing this?


I'm a few days in, and my feet are pretty sore. I've been trying to get into it slowly, with sitting breaks. What has surprised me the most is that I don't feel more drained at the end of the day - if anything, I have more energy than before.

edit: one negative I have noticed - which I hope goes away - is with concentration. I'm having a hard time switching between tasks. Once i'm on one, I'm fine, but for some reason my brain is resisting starting new tasks more than when I was sitting.

Look into getting a fatigue mat. I had the exact same issue when I started, and standing on the mat helps reduce the soreness.

edit: I used http://iamnotaprogrammer.com/Ikea-Standing-desk-for-22-dolla... to get a standing desk for cheap

Yeah, I picked one up from Bed Bath and Beyond and it's helped a lot. First day (without it) was brutal.

edit: funny, I also hacked mine together with Ikea parts. Looks pretty good too.

A pneumatic drafting stool will go up to standing height. Draftsmen have been using standing-height desks and stools for ages. This is my personal approach - I can switch back and forth between standing and sitting as needed.

I went through that too for the first couple of weeks, but it did eventually go away.

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