How High Should Your Standing Desk Be? – 4 Steps to Find Out

Person standing at a correctly adjusted standing desk

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Are you unsure about the right height for your standing desk? Determining your ideal seat height is the first essential step to using a standing desk correctly. It ensures you maintain good posture and stay comfortable while working. 

This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to determine the correct standing desk height for you, covering both sitting and standing positions.

How to Determine the Right Height of a Standing Desk in 4 Steps

How to sit and stand at a height-adjustable desk

1. Correct Standing/Sitting Position

Stand upright and place your feet flat on the ground, spaced about hip-width apart for a stable and balanced stance. Ensure you’re either in your typical work shoes, barefoot, or wearing socks, depending on what you do while working at your desk.

To find the right desk height for sitting, position yourself comfortably in your chair with your feet resting flat on the floor, and ensure your knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Just like with standing, be in your usual work shoes, barefoot, or in socks, depending on what you normally do.

2. Correctly Aligning Your Body

Ensure you maintain a neutral head and neck position. This means you should keep your head in a balanced and upright position, making sure your ears align with your shoulders. Let your shoulders relax into a comfortable position, neither raised nor slumped. Along with this, ensure your back is in its natural position by avoiding excessive arching or slouching. This prevents strain on your spine and back muscles.

3. Arm Positioning

Gently bend your elbows to form a 90-100-degree angle, ensuring your forearms are parallel to the floor. This angle minimizes strain on your shoulders and wrists. Hold your upper arms naturally at your sides, ensuring they aren’t pushed outwards or squeezed tightly against your body. 

4. Measuring Elbow Height/Adjusting Desk Height

If you don’t have a desk yet, measure the distance from the bottom of your bent elbow down to the floor using a tape measure. This height is the ideal height for the top of your standing desk.

If you already have a standing desk, adjust its height so that your forearms lie comfortably on the desk surface. After that, your desk is set to the right height for your standing position.

For the sitting position, the process is similar but with an added consideration for the chair’s armrests. Adjust the armrests so they are at a height where your forearms rest comfortably on them. Next, set your desk to be at the same height as the armrests. This is the ideal desk height for your sitting position.

What would happen if your standing desk was not the right height?

Person having back pain

If your standing desk was not at the right height, it could lead to several issues. First, you might experience increased discomfort and even pain in your neck, shoulders, and back. This is because an improperly positioned desk forces you into awkward postures, which, over time, can lead to musculoskeletal problems in these areas.

Additionally, there’s a heightened risk of developing repetitive strain injuries. A desk that’s too high or too low could cause your wrists to bend improperly while typing or using a mouse. This unnatural wrist positioning can result in conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, particularly if you’re working for long hours.

All this physical discomfort can significantly impair your overall well-being and lead to less focus during work.


It’s evident that the right height adjustments are a significant part of using a standing desk correctly. The right desk height, whether standing or sitting, plays a crucial role in maintaining good posture, reducing (the risk of) physical strain, and enhancing comfort, focus and efficiency.

However, you should remember that an ergonomic setup is just one part of a healthy work lifestyle. Regular movement, stretching, and taking breaks are equally important.


Can standing desks help with high blood pressure? 

Standing desks can contribute to a more active lifestyle, which may have positive effects on high blood pressure. However, they should be part of a broader approach to health that includes regular exercise and a balanced diet.

How often should I switch between sitting and standing at my height-adjustable desk? 

It’s recommended to switch between sitting and standing every 30 minutes. Using a reminder software on your computer or an app on your phone can help you keep track of time. If you are a beginner, start with standing for around 10 minutes per hour. Then, gradually increase your standing time.

What is the ideal distance between my eyes and the screen? 

The ideal distance is typically between 20-28 inches (50-70 cm) from your eyes to the screen, depending on your comfort and screen size. This helps reduce eye strain.

How do I ensure my monitor is at the correct height when standing at my desk?

According to most recommendations, your monitor should be positioned so that the top of the screen is at or slightly below eye level. This is supposed to help maintain a natural head and neck position, reducing strain. Regardless of these recommendations, you should simply position the part of the screen you look at the most within your normal line of sight. This means you should make sure your eyes are relaxed while still maintaining a natural overall posture. 

Is it better to use a standing desk mat even if standing for short periods? 

Yes, using a standing desk mat can be beneficial even for short standing intervals. It provides cushioning and support, reducing fatigue and discomfort in your feet and legs.

How does an electric standing desk differ from a manual one? 

An electric standing desk allows you to adjust the height with the push of a button, providing ease and convenience. Additionally, many electric desks come with memory settings, which allow you to save your preferred heights for quick and effortless adjustments. Manual desks typically require manual lifting or cranking to adjust the height.