Are Standing Desks Good for Your Back?

Person having back pain because of bad posture

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For many of us, back pain after long hours at the desk has become a significant problem. Did you know that sitting for prolonged periods can lead to not just back and neck discomfort, but also cardiovascular diseases (like heart diseases) and other health issues? This is why many people start to use sit-stand desks so they can alternate between sitting and standing. But does standing at your sit-stand desk actually reduce back pain? Let’s find out. 

Key Takeaways

  • Standing desks can help decrease back and neck pain if used correctly.
  • Good posture is important when using a standing desk. You should keep your monitor in your normal line of sight and maintain a natural body position.
  • Introducing stretches and movement into your workday can support better spine health.
  • Always consult with a healthcare professional before making big changes to your workspace, especially if you have existing back issues.

The Relationship Between Standing Desks and Back Pain

Person having back pain

Standing desks have become popular as a potential solution to back pain caused by sitting for long periods. Some studies suggest that a standing desk can help alleviate back and neck pain, but it’s important to note that using the desk incorrectly could exacerbate issues.

The key is maintaining good posture while standing at the desk and balancing time spent sitting with periods of physical activity. When used correctly, a sit-stand desk setup may offer relief from back and neck discomfort often associated with a traditional sitting desk job.

However, not everyone will experience less back pain after switching to a standing workstation; individual factors such as existing conditions like scoliosis or disc bulge can influence outcomes.

Can they help alleviate back pain? (What studies show)

Standing desks offer relief from the discomfort often associated with prolonged sitting and bad posture. They encourage good posture and have been linked to significant reductions in back pain.

The “Take-a-Stand Project” study, published on PubMed, revealed that using a sit-stand desk at work reduced sitting time by 66 minutes per day, leading to a 54% decrease in upper back and neck pain among workers. However, it was noted that once the sit-stand device was removed, the observed improvements regressed within a span of two weeks, emphasizing the importance of continued use of sit-stand desks for sustained benefits.

Another study published on PubMed also shows the positive effect of using a sit-stand desk, specifically on low back pain. The findings support the idea that low back pain can be improved by introducing a sit-stand workstation in an office setting.

Therefore, incorporating this ergonomic solution into your workspace could potentially help alleviate some of the persistent strains felt after long hours at traditional desk setups.

Tips for Utilizing a Standing Desk for a Healthier Back

How to properly stand at a standing desk

Maintaining an upright posture is crucial when using a standing desk. Remember to keep your computer monitor in your normal/natural line of sight to avoid straining your neck and eyes. Alternate between sitting and standing and incorporate movement and stretches into your workday for better spine health.

Always consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your desk setup, especially if you suffer from back pain or related conditions. Consider purchasing an anti-fatigue mat or supportive shoes as they help reduce the pressure of standing upright for long periods of time on the muscles in your back and feet.

Importance of proper posture

Maintaining proper posture is a pivotal aspect of using a standing desk effectively. The essence lies in keeping your head, neck, shoulders and spine in their natural and neutral positions while you work. Incorrect posture can exacerbate back and neck pain instead of relieving it.

Support for the lower back becomes crucial when sitting. Ultimately, good posture reduces pressure on the muscles and supports the natural curve of your spine, thereby promoting overall comfort during prolonged periods at the desk.

Importance of alternating between sitting and standing

Switching between sitting and standing at your desk can really help your back. Sitting at a desk all day can cause back pain, but standing all the time isn’t good either. The key is to find a good balance between the two.

You might have heard people say “sitting is the new smoking.” That’s why many are giving standing desks a try. But, standing desks aren’t magic solutions if you’re standing all day. Just like sitting too much, standing for long periods of time can cause its own problems.

The smart way to use a standing desk is to switch between sitting and standing. This way, you’re not stuck in one position for too long, which is what can also lead to back pain. So, by moving between sitting and standing, you can improve your posture and take breaks from both positions, keeping your back in good shape.

Incorporating movement and stretches

Maintaining a healthy back involves more than just standing at your desk. Incorporating movement and stretches into your workday offers additional benefits.

  1. Vary your standing: Constantly shifting weight between legs alleviates pressure on the lower spine. This simple move can prevent stiffening and strain in your back muscles.
  2. Utilize anti-fatigue mats: These specially designed mats encourage small movements, relieving the stress on the muscles in your back and reducing foot pain associated with standing for long periods of time.
  3. Stretch regularly: Simple stretch exercises at your desk can reduce tension in your neck and lower back muscles. 
  4. Take walking breaks and stretch: It is recommended to take a break for 5-10 minutes for every hour spent at your desk. During this time, you should simply walk around and stretch. Not only does this break up long periods of sitting or standing, but it also promotes better posture, reduces eye strain from staring at a computer screen, and keeps you physically active throughout the day. Simple stretch exercises can reduce tension in your muscles, including your neck and lower back muscles.
  5. Adjust the desk height: Make sure that your monitor is in your normal line of sight to prevent slouching, hunching over, and looking down too much, which would lead to neck and upper back problems as well as eye strain.
  6. Use supportive shoes: Standing all day without proper footwear can lead to discomfort and potential vascular problems over time.

Consultation with a healthcare professional

Consulting a healthcare professional is crucial before making drastic changes in your workday routine, such as switching to a standing desk. They can offer personalized advice considering your overall health condition and specific needs.

Healthcare professionals provide guidance on correct posture when using the desk, timing for standing or sitting, and the type of supportive shoes that help relieve foot pain from standing all day.

For those already suffering from back problems like scoliosis or a bulging disc, consultation with healthcare providers becomes even more important. Since the use of a standing desk isn’t a cure-all solution, they might suggest other remedies along with potential benefits of standing desks tailored to individual cases.

Moreover, they can help reduce the risks associated with spending too much time on your feet, such as developing deep vein thrombosis or experiencing leg swelling.


In the end, standing desks offer a dynamic way to work and may contribute to alleviation of back pain. However, they are not a solution for all posture-related issues nor can replace the importance of regular movement and exercise throughout the day.

Optimal usage requires proper adjustment and varying periods of sitting, standing, and walking. Always remember to consult with healthcare professionals before making significant changes to your workstation setup.


1. How can a standing desk help my posture?

Standing desks are designed to improve your posture by allowing you to maintain the natural curve of your spine, hence reducing the risk of poor posture often associated with sitting at a traditional desk for long hours. This is just one of the many benefits of a standing desk.

2. Does using a standing desk lead to back pain relief?

The above mentioned studies have shown that alternating between sitting and standing can indeed relieve back and neck pain.

3. Are there any risks involved in using a standing desk?

If the standing desk isn’t adjusted properly (too low or too high), it might cause discomfort over time. Also, maintaining one posture for too long even if you’re standing can still lead to muscle pain and other health issues.

4. Should I try out other solutions along with purchasing a Standing Desk?

Yes, definitely! You could also consider adding an anti-fatigue mat under your feet for reduced fatigue. It would also be very beneficial to have an ergonomic chair for the periods in which you sit. If necessary, you can also search for a monitor arm so you can maintain a natural and relaxed posture while using your monitor.