Stand Up While You Work


By Aimee Sterk, MATP Staff Member

Aimee's Standing Desk w/gel padI first heard about standing desks 5 years ago and wondered if they would help with my chronic upper back pain. Two years ago, I took the plunge and bought a used standing desk from the Herman Miller factory store. It has taken some getting used to, but I have seen the benefits, my back pain has decreased, my posture has improved, and I just plain like it.

My standing desk has a hydraulic pump that allows me to adjust the height with the click of a switch without using electricity. Electric varieties are also available. My desk is 3 ft deep. The 12 inches furthest from where I stand can raise and lower at angles for holding documents or supporting other things at an angle. I don’t use that feature, but I do find the extra-deep desk useful as I can put my lightbox and monitor and less-used papers further away from me and save working space closer to me.

I have read that standing desks help you burn more calories and keep your more active. I was pretty fidgety in chairs, but I do think my legs are stronger from standing for longer periods of time. I’ve also read studies about sedentary lifestyles leading to heart disease, blood clots and other conditions. Hopefully, my standing desk is helping with these odds.

Some have suggested that people perform mentally taxing tasks better while sitting down. When I do have longer grants to write, I bring in a chair and lower the desk.

I have also found that proper cushioning under my feet is a necessity. The floor in my office is laminate wood. I tried a cheap gel pad that I found at my local Costco but that didn’t cut it, so I had to go ahead and order a real gel mat. Standing for hours is no longer a problem with the right cushion.

I’ve seen people online with homemade standing desks that leave their shoulders and hands at angles that could lead to problems, so if you are thinking of making your own standing desk, get it to a height so that you are not leaning forward or backward while you work. Also, make sure your wrist can stay in a neutral position and you can bring your keyboard close in to your body.

How have you adapted your workspace to accommodate your disability or your preferred way of working?

Additional Resources:

Information from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) about ergonomics in the workplace at A to Z: Ergonomics

In November, JAN will  be releasing a “Just-in-Time” training module on Ergonomics in the Workplace to its library on the Multimedia Training Microsite. This module will explore various medical conditions that could benefit from an ergonomic assessment or job analysis, ergonomic products that could constitute a workplace accommodation under the ADA, an overview of ergonomic assessments, and how ergonomics can be applied in a variety of settings, including manufacturing, healthcare, and office jobs.

This entry was posted in AT, Employment, Employment and tagged back pain, employment, ergonomics, gel mat, job accommodation, lightbox, standing desk, workstation on by .

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