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Stand Up Desks for Low Back Pain

standing desk

Did you know sitting more than doubles the pressure on the discs in your low back?  Low back pain happens to everyone, but is known to be even more of a nuisance in those who work behind a desk.  Not only has it been linked to increases of your risks for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, but also prolonged sitting can even increase your current back pain… Sitting itself isn’t really the problem it is too much sitting that causes the issues.  The body craves movement and variety.  Prolonged sitting deprives the body of that variety and leaves the joints and muscles in one position, which if left in that position too long or too frequently tissues can tighten up and then make you move slightly differently and cause pain or help to prevent you from getting out of pain.  

If the human body needs movement, but we are stuck behind a desk 8 hours a day what are we to do?  We recommend to not sit for more than 20 minutes straight, which I realize is a big ask, but maybe not as big as you think.  All you have to do is stand up and walk around your desk.  That simple 5 second break from sitting is enough to help partially reset the body.  Frequent breaks to walk to the water cooler help as well.  If you talk on the phone consider standing and talking on the phone.   “But Jamie I can’t take that many breaks”. There are several solutions that can help but one we recommend frequently for desk workers with low back pain is to get a standing desk. 

Standing desks can help to get rid of your back pain when used correctly.  The problem comes when people go to sitting 8 hours a day to standing 8 hours a day and then the pain comes from standing 8 hours a day.  The problem wasn’t the desk it was you tried to adjust too quickly.  To avoid this you can have two desks or more likely you can start with a sit stand desk.   These desks are adjustable and can raise or lower depending on whether you want to sit or stand.  You want a lightweight but sturdy and easily adjustable desk (a good cheap example is the AnthroDesk found at  This is the spring loaded easy to use desk we have in our office ) that will allow you to break into standing a couple hours at a time. Start with 1 hour a day the first week and increase your standing time per day 1 hour per week.  That way you can work your way into standing 8 hours a day over 2 months.  Really you want to move frequently as standing still for 8 hours a day may cause you some low back pain as well. 

Posture with standing desks-To have the best posture your keyboard should be slightly below your elbows.  This allows your hands to be above the keyboard and for the elbows to be just a little lower than a 90 degree bend.  The neck needs to be back over the shoulders and the top of the computer screen needs to be even with your eyebrows.  Learn to look down with your eyes and not let your head poke forward and not round your back.  Stand up desks and especially adjustable stand up desks should allow you to be in the best posture and minimize any strain on your low back and neck. 

So in conclusion find a sturdy sit to stand desk to start your transition from having low back pain with sitting to being able to work mostly standing up at work. Adjust the desk to be able to stand (or sit) with proper posture.  Slowly build your tolerance up for standing increasing your daily stand time 1 hour a week. Even when standing up mostly for work movement and breaks from the desk will be your best friend.  

I hope this information helped. 

PS-If you are ever having a hard time getting your boss to pony up for a stand up desk just look up the research on how stand up desks improve productivity and efficiency in the workplace.  That will likely make the cost of the stand up desk an easy objection to conquer. 

PPS-Although they can be a large piece of the puzzle standing desks are not a guarantee to get rid of your low back pain. If you are having low back pain and want the absolute fastest and most certain way to get rid of your back pain then please contact us by clicking the button below. 

KinetikChain Physical Therapy

We Help People In Denver Quickly Recover From Pain Or Injury So They Can Stay Active In Their Favorite Sport/Hobby, Continue Exercising, And Get Back To What They Love To Do.


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