OK, I am in an air-conditioned studio, but it takes a bit for the A/C to kick in when it’s 119 degrees outside. Yeah, you heard me right. I’m standing at my desk watching the grass turn brown and all the plants in my yard burst into little flames that puff out quickly because of the lack of oxygen in the air because somehow the state of Arizona has moved closer to the sun without anyone noticing.
But seriously, I have been standing at my desk for the past two weeks (during work hours, smart aleck) and it seems to be working out pretty well. I do take breaks to read longer documents while sitting, or after a long bout of standing I’ll move the tray down and sit for a bit. But surprisingly, I find myself anxious when I sit now and I want to stand back up. Scary, huh? Who knew?
So, the experiment is a success. The best part about all this is that while standing, I don’t scrunch up my shoulders while I’m at my computer. (You know what I’m talking about, you’re doing it right now. Relax those shoulders.) I no longer reach my shoulders to my ears without thinking about it. As a result, my neck feels a lot less stressed at the end of a long editing gig. And that is a wonderful bonus for someone with a history of neck pain. So, without even asking…here are my recommendations if you’re thinking of giving this a try.
1. Make sure your forearms are at approximately a 90-degree angle from your upper arms. For instance, stand up and bend your arms at the elbow and hold your hands straight out in front of you, palms down, parallel with the floor. The desk should be under those hands. I got lucky and the tray with my laptop hit just the right mark.
2. Get a gel mat. I found one at Costco for just $14.99 rather than the $50-$100 versions I saw online. It really does make a difference.
3. Try a few different pairs of shoes to find just the right ones that you can stand in for long periods. You’d be surprised what works. I have a pair of sandals that work much better than any sneakers. And, you may want to go barefoot like a friend of mine recommended.
4. Shift around. If you get stiff or sore the first few days, shift your weight around. It helps to move a bit.
5. If possible, step one foot in front of the other and lean forward and rest the front of your thigh on the desk. That gives you a bit of a break on your back. Thanks to Sean Preuss for this recommendation. If that doesn’t work, try putting a box or book on the floor and put one foot on it to ease your back a bit.
6. Dance. No kidding, it really helps. While I’m working, I’ve got music on and I sway to it. During a break to read emails or check FB, I put on some AC/DC or even some ’70s disco (shush, no judging). It feels good to move around and you won’t realize that you’re actually exercising a bit.
7. Sit down. This is not a contest. If you are sore or tired, sit down. Most advice I got was to move from standing to sitting frequently to give your body a break. The longer you do this, the easier it becomes and the longer your standing shifts will be.
8. Don’t buy an expensive desk or chair right now. Make sure you can do this before dropping big bucks on something that may wind up on Craigslist. Just a computer tray, a strong box or two, just make sure it’s sturdy.
Go for it, and let me know how you like it. I’m loving it and keeping cool with a fan and A/C here in AZ.