Standing Desk: Joint Pain, Fatigue and Other Factors
In my explorations so far, I’ve looked at the calories I’ve burned, standing versus sitting, and the differences in productivity. The case for standing desks nearly seems made, but I have yet to address one simple fact: Standing for long periods of time puts more strain on your feet, knees and back than sitting does.
I find this is one of the most common issues I received questions about. In truth, I find that there is a certain amount of soreness that comes from my standing for prolonged periods of time. What I face is a trade-off when it comes to defining my aches and pains. When I sit at a computer, even at an ergonomic workstation, I tend to hunch my back and shoulders over time. This leads to back pain, headaches, and general discomfort. So, my choice is whether or not I want sore feet and knees or a sore back and headaches. Sure, I will have less aches and pains if I maintain proper posture in either position- but let’s be realistic, some things are easier said than done.
Personally, if given the choice, I prefer sore feet and knees. It’s a sensation that I’m used to from any time I walk for a prolonged period, and I can deal with tender feet without it consuming too much of my concentration. That being said, my ideal situation would be one in which I experienced little-to-no pain whatsoever.
So what if my thinking in terms of absolutes is too narrow of a focus? The important thing to note in this experiment is that the discomfort I feel in either the case of sitting or standing-comes with time. This is what led me to investigate adjustable height tables. Perhaps there is a solution that permits me to achieve my health and productivity goals while minimizing fatigue and other unfavourable factors. While it seems like a table that is 100% sitting or 100% standing has advantages and disadvantages, an adjustable height table permits me reap the benefits of more time standing, while still letting myself sit down on occasion.
An adjustable height desk allows you a standing desk to work at, but doesn’t require the desk to be at standing height all the time. This arrangement also makes my wife happier, which gives it a few bonus marks.
So, at the end of this phase of my experiment, I’m still definitely finding benefits to using a standing desk, but I believe an adjustable height table could be far more useful in the long-term as it allows me to work at both seated and standing heights as needed. Perhaps I will eventually acclimatize to a solely standing position, but until that time, I can work in a way that suits me best.