The Smart Patient's Guide to
Managing Pain in the Workplace

Pain & Joint Relief: The Benefits of Standing While Working

If you’re like most office workers, you tend to sit at a desk for most of the day. Experts say that if you ditch the chair and stand at your desk instead—at least for part of the day—you may reap a variety of health benefits, from better posture to improved circulation. And, for those already suffering from chronic pain conditions, the shift in weight and joint movement may prevent the pain from worsening. In a 2018 study, sit-stand desks were linked to increases in "health-adjusted life years."

“The health benefits when you stand up rather than sit down are definitely outstanding,” says Elmer “El” G. Pinzon, MD, MPH, DABIPP. Dr. Pinzon serves as the medical director at University Spine & Sports Specialists and at the Volunteer Comprehensive Health & Regenerative Medicine in Knox County, Tennessee.

“Sitting all day is a slow death any way you look at it,” adds Tiziano Marovino, DPT, MPH, DAIPM at Health Strategy and Innovation Biogenesis Group, in Ypsilanti, Michigan. “Sitting is sedentary, and we know that this leads to obesity, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.”

Joints require movement to stay lubricated, he explains, and the absence of movement leads to stiffness, early degenerative changes, and eventual disability. Specifically, “the shortened position of sitting leads to soft tissue tightness and joint stiffness, both more painful and debilitating as one ages.” (A recent study even found that prolonged sitting in middle age can lead to brain atrophy.)


The new ProDesk 60 Electric from VARIDESK may be an ideal choice for those considering a sit-stand desk, as it provides an easy way to turn any office into an active workspace. The desk, the newest in a line of several standing desk and sit-stand conversion models, is made with contract-grade materials and designed to do something no other electric standing desk can do: assemble in under five minutes while being incredibly stable at any height. Developed with input from business owners around the world, the model offers high-quality stability for commercial offices (see a few tips on how you can convince your boss to purchase one for your office ).

Among the ProDesk 60 features are its sturdy base with foot levelers, easy-to-attach legs, a steel stability crossbar, three programmable presets (so you can adjust for preferred height), a heavy-duty laminate finish, and chamfered edges. Ergonomically built, the desk can accommodate individuals who are up to 6 feet, 7 inches tall, and can be lifted or lowered with the touch of a button, eliminating the need for the user to lift the desk manually, a task that can be hard for those who are in pain. It comes in five finishes—black, white, butcher block, darkwood, or reclaimed wood.


There are multiple size options to choose from, including cubicle-sized models, an electric desktop model, and the most recent ProDesk 60 Electric, which is a full-size desk. Unlike other standing electric desks, which often must be ordered directly from a furniture dealer and installed by a specialist, the ProDesk 60 can be ordered directly from the VARIDESK website. Plus, the company offers a 30-day trial—if you don’t like it, you can get a full refund – and the company will even come and pick it up!

Improve Your Circulation, Relieve Your Joints, and Shed Pounds

The overall benefits of standing versus sitting throughout the work day are impressive, with better circulation being one, says Dr. Pinzon. “When you are in a sitting position, you are not allowing circulation to the optimal level, which it is at when you stand,” he explains. “Standing allows for improved circulation through the spine and the musculoskeletal system—the key components of core strength, posture, and balance.”

Constant sitting can also lead to increased neck problems, he says. “Text neck,” the name for the discomfort that can occur after repeatedly looking down at your keyboard or your phone, can be alleviated with a standing desk, he explains. “If you move the keyboard upward at a standing desk, you may be able to prevent this condition,” he says.

You also may find that you are more alert and better able to concentrate when you get up out of your chair and stand to work, Dr. Pinzon says. “You are recruiting more muscles and your brain is having to respond much more than it did when you are sitting,” he explains.

Another benefit—shedding calories. According to Dr. Marovino “The health benefits of standing are that the metabolic ‘cost’ of standing is approximately 20 percent greater than that of sitting, regardless of your fitness levels In other words, you’ll burn about 20 percent more calories when you stand rather than sit.

How Long Should You Stand?

Is it necessary to stand all day? There are no hard and fast recommendations on how much sitting and how much standing is the ideal combination. Instead, figure out what is comfortable for you. Some sit-stand desk users like to change it up every 30 to 40 minutes, but it is completely a matter of personal preference.

“Build your tolerance gradually,” advises Dr. Marovino. “People will quickly realize that standing all day is taxing and they may not be able to do it. But you can unlock the value of prolonged standing when you achieve a balance between sitting and standing.”


Choosing & Using a Sit-Stand Desk

Here are some additional points to consider when choosing and setting up a standing desk:

  • Whether to get a full sized sit-stand desk or a unit that can be placed on top of your existing desk largely depends on the amount of space you have available. If you have more space at your disposal—or if you like to spread things out over a larger desk area—it may make more sense to invest in a stand-alone sit-stand desk. If your current desk footprint is perfect for you, you’ll want to choose a sit-stand unit placed over your current desktop.
  • The height of your sit-stand desk should be adjustable, because you may want different heights for different work tasks - one height for writing and another height when working on your computer, for instance. And if you share your desk with a co-worker or family member, it’s essential that the desk height be adjustable to meet the needs of people with different heights and work preferences. The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) recommends that the height range be 22.6 inches to 48.7 inches, but ultimately the range should depend on those who are using the desk.
  • Once your desk arrives and you start to use it in a standing position, alternate positions to alleviate pressure on the feet and legs and promote blood flow.
  • Use a cushioned mat and footrest to avoid pain and fatigue in your feet, legs, and back.
  • For proper alignment, the top of your screen should be at eye level or slightly below the line of sight. The monitor should be at arm’s length or slightly further – between 15.7 inches and 29.5 inches away.
  • Need a visual: view this infographic for more ergonomic recommendations.
Updated on: 04/29/19
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Posture 101