It’s my perspective that a standing desk is better than a good chair for people who do not have pain with standing.
While a good chair is comfortable, if you are having pain with sitting, then even a good chair isn’t going to get you out of that position. This would be the job for a standing desk.
I want to make this very clear though; sitting is not bad for your back.
When we stay in one posture for too long (which is different for everyone) there is a chance that we will develop some sort of pain. That can be in the hip, the knee, the low back, upper back. It really depends.
But ultimately, for most people, I think a standing desk combined with a decent enough chair would be an optimal setup.
If you’re curious as to what might be causing low back pain just above your buttocks, this might be the article for you.
Is Standing better for your back than sitting?
No, standing is not better for your back than sitting. I’ve been a physical therapist for 5 years now at the time of writing this article and I can confidently say there is a 0% difference between how many people come in with pain with sitting or standing.
The posture police have long told us that if you sit too long you’ll develop rounded shoulders and low and upper back pain.
And while this is true for some people, the opposite is also true.
I’ve had plenty of patients over the years who ONLY feel better with sitting. Fancy that.
So, sitting can’t be the evil thing it’s made out to be if people also feel better doing that, than standing.
Ultimately it’s going to come down to personal choice and which one feels best for you. Also… alternate throughout the day, that should do the trick.
How long should you stand at a standing desk?
You can stand at your desk as long as it’s comfortable. When you notice your body getting tired, you start losing focus because something is hurting, or something else, you should sit.
This will be different for every person. If you are just starting out with a standing desk, you might only make it 30-45 minutes before you need to sit.
Interestingly enough, standing in one place for an extended period of time is not that comfortable to start with.
This is particularly true if you don’t routinely stand for long periods of time or go for long walks or runs.
Is it healthier to have a standing desk?
People who buy standing desks are likely more health conscious however I don’t think that simply by having a standing desk will magically make you healthier.
That’s like saying it’s healthier to own a pair of running shoes. Sure, you probably exercise more if own a pair or two, however it doesn’t magically make you healthier. You have to actually use them.
How many hours of standing is too much?
If you start to develop significant pain from standing then this would be considered too long. I can’t give a specific time duration as this is going to be different for each person.
Do your legs get stronger from standing?
No. While you are using some of your muscles to keep you upright, the stimulus is not nearly large enough to help strengthen your muscles.
The only people where standing is a beneficial strengthening exercise is if you’ve been hospitalized and need to build your standing tolerance again.
There are likely other examples but that’s the one that comes to mind, first.
Another note about this; when you are standing, your knees are more or less straight, and your torso is upright over your hips.
This creates a situation where you are mainly relying on bones stacked on one another and slight muscular contractions to keep you upright. There really isn’t much muscle activity going on for most people during standing.
How often should you stand up from your desk?
As often as you feel like it.
If you are starting to feel uncomfortable sitting you should stand up.
Sometimes it can be helpful to set regular intervals so you don’t forget.
You could try every 30 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour, or even 2 hours, depending on how long you can tolerate sitting in one spot.
I can sit for about 2-3 hours before I feel the need to get up. That’s partly due to feeling some discomfort but also because it’s very difficult to focus for > 2-3 hours at a time.