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Stand-up Computer Desks

Updated on April 25, 2013

Sounds weird eh...standing up at the computer? Yet more people are doing it and there are desks available through retail outlets that have been purpose designed for standing.

The problem is, it's not uncommon for people who spend hours at a computer desk to suffer from significant upper back and neck problems. Too many of us don't keep a straight back and tend to slump forward, with our necks protruding toward the screen. It's all too easy to lose track of time when we become absorbed by what's going on at the screen and before you know it, you've been sitting down in the same position for hours. Over time this can cause real health issues. For example, you may end up causing harmful strain on the discs and joints in your back, which will likely lead to more permanent and painful problems long term. Scary.

image from
image from

Health Risks of Sitting

However, even we do sit correctly, there's convincing evidence that long periods of sitting can pose serious health risks and shorten life expectancy, even if you exercise regularly. Sitting for hours has been associated with an increased risk of death from cardio-vascular disease, regardless of how healthy you are otherwise. Doubly scary. Read more about it at Scientifc American:

What is fascinating is that the relationship between sitting time and mortality was independent of physical activity levels. In fact, individuals who sat the most were roughly 50% more likely to die during the follow-up period than individuals who sat the least, even after controlling for age, smoking, and physical activity levels.

To keep a good posture,whether standing or sitting, it's important to keep your wrists at the correct level for the keyboard - elbows should be at a 90 degree angle to the keyboard, otherwise you'll be twisting and bending in some way. If you are going to sit, ensure your chair is pushed in close enough to the desk, or you wont be able to help slouching forwards. Another important thing to remember is to take frequent breaks! Even if it's only for a couple of minutes -stretch, bend, twist sideways -anything that will promote a bit of movement and flexibility. As it's all too easy to lose track of time while you're absorbed in some online task it's not a bad idea to invest in a timer that will *buzz* you out of your computer stupor at regular intervals.

For ultimate comfort, the ideal workstation would be one where you can switch between standing and sitting position, such as the one below.

A simple yet efective solution  - a custom-made standing box.
A simple yet efective solution - a custom-made standing box.
Anti-fatigue gel mat
Anti-fatigue gel mat

Add a Gel Mat

For ergonomic benefit, extra comfort and to reduce strain on your feet, add a gel mat for standing on. Primarily designed for kitchens, they work just as well for standing at the computer.

The mats are made with a soft, shock-absorbing gel and are especially good if you have hard wooden, ceramic tiled or concrete floors.

Have you suffered any neck or back problems from sitting at a computer?

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    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      YogaKat..yes, I started to get some neck problems earlier in the year and it was quite even affected my arm. Since then I've changed my wicked ways on the computer and am always conscious of the posture thing.


    • YogaKat profile image

      YogaKat 6 years ago from Oahu Hawaii

      Nice hub . . . this is what I need - to stand up. I have a lot more neck tension from scrunching over my laptop hubbing.

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      dahoglund, that sounds good actually..sort of in-between. Years ago I had an ergonomic chair that you sat on but rested your knees on a kind of ledge which took the strain off your back. Unfortunatley I lost it in one of my many house moves. I could do with it now.

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Me too drbj! I've been having some upper back pain myself, probably due to long hours slumped on the computer writing hubs.Occupational hazard.

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Pierre, good points. It's amazing how much difference the 'light'exerise of standing can make.It doesn't sound very appealing though does it..standing up to read? At least on the computer your not completely passive, though that to doesn't sound great. I think I'd have to switch between the two...sitting and standing.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Years ago I worked for awhile at the Post Office sorting mail. At that time they had sort of a stool that you didn't quite sit on but leaned against it.It was neither standing or sitting or maybe both.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Thanks for the timely info, Jane, about sitting/standing at the computer and the gel mat. Loved the bad posture illustrations; I can relate to all of them!

    • Pierre Savoie profile image

      Pierre Savoie 6 years ago from Canada

      In speed-reading class we were taught that the most beneficial level of activity during reading was the use of 25% of your muscles -- and that was approximated by standing. Some people who do a lot of reading get stand-up lecterns. Maybe they can be more efficient at computer terminals if standing too for the same reasons. If you want to fall asleep faster, though, read in bed, I guarantee you'll make slow progress.