Do Physical Therapists Recommend Standing Desks?

December 07, 2023
Do Physical Therapists Recommend Standing Desks?
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The Popularity of Standing Desks

Standing desks have gained significant popularity in recent years as an alternative to traditional seated workstations. This shift in workplace culture is driven by a growing awareness of the potential health benefits associated with standing while working.

The Rise of Standing Desks in the Workplace

The use of standing desks in the workplace has seen a steady increase as more individuals seek to improve their overall well-being and combat the negative effects of prolonged sitting. Many companies have recognized the importance of providing ergonomic workstations and have started implementing standing desks as part of their office setups.

The adoption of standing desks is not limited to a specific industry or profession. Office workers, digital creators, content writers, and individuals in various other fields have embraced the idea of incorporating standing into their work routine. This trend is fueled by the belief that standing while working can promote better posture, increased energy levels, and enhanced productivity.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Standing Desks

Standing desks offer several potential benefits, as acknowledged by physical therapists. These benefits include:

Benefit Description
Improved Posture Standing encourages proper alignment of the spine, reducing the risk of developing poor posture habits.
Increased Movement Standing promotes more frequent posture changes and natural movement throughout the workday.
Enhanced Calorie Expenditure Standing burns more calories compared to sitting, contributing to weight management.
Reduced Risk of Certain Health Issues Standing has been associated with a lower risk of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and musculoskeletal disorders.
Potential for Rehabilitation Standing desks can be beneficial for individuals undergoing physical therapy or rehabilitation.

However, it's important to note that standing for prolonged periods may also pose certain drawbacks and risks. Physical therapists have highlighted the following considerations:

  • Increased Lower Body Discomfort: Standing for extended periods can lead to discomfort or fatigue in the lower body, particularly the feet, legs, and lower back.
  • Potential for Musculoskeletal Issues: Improper standing posture or excessive stress on joints may contribute to musculoskeletal issues, such as back or knee pain.
  • Varied Tolerance Levels: Each individual has a different tolerance for standing, and it may take time for the body to adjust to prolonged standing periods.

To make an informed decision about whether standing desks are suitable for your specific needs, it's recommended to consult with a physical therapist. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your health, work requirements, and goals.

Considering the benefits and drawbacks, it's important to find the right balance between sitting and standing throughout the workday. This can be achieved by incorporating regular movement breaks, alternating between sitting and standing, and ensuring proper ergonomics when using a standing desk.

Insights from Physical Therapists

Physical therapists offer valuable perspectives on the use of standing desks and their impact on health and well-being. Let's explore their viewpoint regarding the benefits and risks associated with standing desks.

The Perspective of Physical Therapists

Physical therapists recognize the potential benefits that standing desks can offer to individuals who spend prolonged periods sitting at a desk. They view standing desks as a way to promote better posture, reduce sedentary behavior, and encourage movement throughout the workday.

According to physical therapists, standing desks can help alleviate issues such as poor posture, neck and back pain, and musculoskeletal discomfort. By allowing individuals to alternate between sitting and standing, these desks can provide relief from the prolonged stress placed on the body while sitting for extended periods.

Opinions on the Benefits of Standing Desks

Physical therapists generally agree that standing desks can offer several benefits to users. These include:

  • Improved Posture: Standing desks can help promote better posture by engaging the core muscles and encouraging an upright position. This can reduce the strain on the neck, shoulders, and back.

  • Increased Movement: Standing desks provide the opportunity to incorporate more movement into the workday. Physical therapists believe that alternating between sitting and standing can help improve blood circulation, prevent muscle stiffness, and boost energy levels.

  • Reduced Risk of Certain Health Conditions: Research suggests that standing desks may help lower the risk of certain health conditions associated with sedentary behavior, such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Opinions on the Risks and Limitations of Standing Desks

While physical therapists acknowledge the potential benefits of standing desks, they also highlight some risks and limitations that individuals should be aware of:

  • Muscle Fatigue: Prolonged standing without adequate rest can lead to muscle fatigue and discomfort. It's important to listen to your body and take breaks when needed.

  • Increased Pressure on Lower Limbs: Standing for long periods can put increased pressure on the feet, ankles, and knees. Individuals with pre-existing conditions or injuries in these areas should exercise caution and consult with a physical therapist.

  • Improper Ergonomics: Standing desks should be properly adjusted to ensure optimal ergonomics. Incorrect positioning of the desk and computer monitor can lead to issues such as neck strain and eye fatigue.

To address these limitations, physical therapists recommend incorporating movement breaks, wearing supportive footwear, and setting up the standing desk with proper ergonomics.

Understanding the insights provided by physical therapists can help individuals make informed decisions about incorporating standing desks into their work routine. It's always advisable to consult with a physical therapist and consider personal factors when determining the suitability of standing desks for individual needs. By finding the right balance between sitting and standing and adopting proper ergonomic practices, individuals can make the most of their standing desk experience.

Ergonomics and Standing Desks

When using a standing desk, proper ergonomics play a vital role in maximizing comfort and minimizing the risk of musculoskeletal issues. Here are some important considerations and tips for setting up a standing desk correctly.

Importance of Proper Ergonomics

Maintaining proper ergonomics is crucial when using a standing desk to promote a healthy and productive work environment. Here are a few key reasons why proper ergonomics matter:

  1. Posture Support: Correct ergonomics help maintain good posture, reducing strain on the neck, shoulders, and back.
  2. Muscle Engagement: Proper alignment encourages the engagement of core and leg muscles, which can help prevent muscle fatigue.
  3. Circulation: A well-adjusted standing desk setup promotes proper blood circulation throughout the body, reducing the risk of swelling and discomfort.

Tips for Setting Up a Standing Desk Correctly

To make the most of your standing desk, follow these tips to ensure correct setup and positioning:

  1. Monitor Height: Position your monitor at eye level to avoid straining your neck. Adjust the height so that the top of the screen is at or slightly below eye level.
  2. Keyboard and Mouse Placement: Place your keyboard and mouse at a height that allows your arms to be relaxed and your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your wrists straight and avoid excessive reaching.
  3. Monitor Distance: Position your monitor at an arm's length away from your body to minimize eye strain. Adjust the distance as needed for optimal comfort.
  4. Foot Support: Use an anti-fatigue mat or a footrest to provide support and alleviate pressure on your feet and legs.
  5. Arm Position: Keep your arms relaxed and close to your body. Avoid excessive reaching or stretching while typing or using the mouse.
  6. Regular Movement: Remember to take regular breaks and incorporate movement throughout the day. Standing in one position for long periods can also lead to discomfort. Consider incorporating short walks or stretching exercises into your routine.

Combining Sitting and Standing for Optimal Health

While standing desks offer numerous benefits, it's essential to strike a balance between sitting and standing to optimize your health. Prolonged standing can lead to fatigue and discomfort. Here's how you can incorporate sitting into your routine:

  1. Sit-Stand Schedule: Alternate between sitting and standing at regular intervals. Begin with shorter standing periods and gradually increase the duration as your body adjusts.
  2. Sit-stand Stool: Consider using a sit-stand stool that allows you to lean or perch during the standing periods. This provides support and relieves pressure on your lower body.
  3. Active Sitting: Use an ergonomic chair that promotes active sitting by encouraging movement and good posture. This helps engage your muscles even while sitting.

By following these ergonomic guidelines and finding the right balance between sitting and standing, you can make the most of your standing desk setup. Remember, consulting with a physical therapist can provide personalized recommendations based on your specific needs and help ensure a healthy and comfortable work environment.

Alternatives to Standing Desks

While standing desks have gained popularity in recent years, they may not be suitable for everyone or every situation. Fortunately, there are alternative options to consider that still promote a healthy and ergonomic work environment. Let's explore some of these alternatives below.

Adjustable Desks and Workstations

Adjustable desks and workstations offer the flexibility to switch between sitting and standing positions throughout the day. These desks typically have a height-adjustable mechanism that allows users to customize the desk's height to their preference. This way, you can alternate between sitting and standing, finding the most comfortable position for your body.

By investing in an adjustable desk, you can enjoy the benefits of both sitting and standing without being limited to a single position. It's important to note that proper ergonomics should still be considered, regardless of whether you're sitting or standing.

Active Seating Options

Active seating options provide an alternative to traditional chairs and stools, encouraging movement and engagement of your core muscles while sitting. These seating options are designed to promote better posture and help prevent the negative effects associated with prolonged sitting.

One popular active seating option is an exercise ball chair. Sitting on an exercise ball engages your core muscles and promotes small movements, which can help improve posture and alleviate discomfort. Other options include kneeling chairs and wobble stools, which provide similar benefits by encouraging active sitting.

Incorporating active seating options into your workspace can help break up long periods of sitting and keep your body engaged. Remember to find a balance and switch between different seating options throughout the day to avoid overstraining specific muscles.

Incorporating Movement Breaks

Regardless of your choice of desk or seating option, it's essential to incorporate regular movement breaks into your work routine. Prolonged sitting or standing can lead to muscle stiffness, fatigue, and increased risk of musculoskeletal issues. Taking short breaks to move and stretch can help alleviate these issues and boost your overall well-being.

Consider implementing simple exercises or stretches that target different muscle groups. This can include neck rolls, shoulder shrugs, leg stretches, or even a brisk walk around the office. Set reminders or use smartphone apps to prompt you to take breaks and move regularly throughout the day.

By incorporating movement breaks, you can reduce the negative effects of prolonged sitting or standing, improve circulation, and prevent muscle imbalances. Remember, even small bursts of movement can make a significant difference in your overall comfort and productivity.

While standing desks may be a popular choice, it's important to explore alternative options to find what works best for your unique needs and preferences. Whether it's an adjustable desk, active seating options, or incorporating movement breaks, the goal is to create a work environment that promotes a healthy balance between sitting and standing. Consult with a physical therapist for personalized recommendations and guidance on finding the right balance for your workstation.

Making an Informed Decision

When it comes to choosing the right desk setup for your work environment, it's important to make an informed decision. Physical therapists can provide valuable insights and guidance to help you select the most suitable option. Here are three key aspects to consider when making your decision.

Consulting with a Physical Therapist

Before making any major changes to your workspace, consulting with a physical therapist is highly recommended. They can assess your individual needs, evaluate any existing conditions or concerns, and provide personalized recommendations. A physical therapist can offer expert advice on posture, ergonomics, and the potential benefits or drawbacks of standing desks based on your specific circumstances. Their expertise will ensure that you make the best choice for your overall health and well-being.

For individuals with specific rehabilitation needs, physical therapists can also provide insights on specialized standing desks designed for rehabilitation purposes.

Personal Considerations for Choosing a Desk

Beyond the guidance of a physical therapist, personal considerations play a vital role in choosing the right desk for your needs. Factors such as your work requirements, preferences, and budget should all be taken into account. Consider the amount of desk space you require, whether you need additional storage options, and if you prefer a desk that can be easily adjusted to different heights. Understanding your individual needs and preferences will help you narrow down the options and find the desk that best suits you.

Finding the Right Balance for Your Workstation

While standing desks offer numerous benefits, it's important to find the right balance between sitting and standing throughout your workday. Prolonged periods of standing can pose its own set of challenges and potential risks. Incorporating regular movement breaks and alternating between sitting and standing can help reduce the strain on your body. Physical therapists often recommend transitioning gradually to standing desks and gradually increasing standing time to allow your body to adapt.

By considering both the insights from physical therapists and your own personal needs, you can make an informed decision when choosing a desk setup. Remember to consult with a physical therapist, factor in personal considerations, and find the right balance between sitting and standing for your workstation. With the right desk and proper ergonomics, you can create a healthier and more comfortable work environment.


Can standing desks reduce the risk of obesity?

Yes, standing desks can help reduce the risk of obesity. When you stand, your body is burning more calories than when you are sitting. This increased calorie burn can help prevent weight gain and even lead to weight loss over time.

Are standing desks suitable for everyone?

No, standing desks are not suitable for everyone. People with certain health conditions such as varicose veins or arthritis may find it uncomfortable to stand for prolonged periods. It's best to consult a physical therapist before switching to a standing desk.

Can using a standing desk improve my productivity?

Yes, using a standing desk can improve productivity for some people. When you stand, you tend to be more alert and focused than when you're sitting. Additionally, the increased blood flow and energy levels associated with standing can lead to improved concentration and productivity.

How long should I stand at my desk?

It's recommended that you aim to stand for at least 30 minutes per hour while working at a standing desk. However, it's important to listen to your body and take breaks as needed. Alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day, and take short walks or stretch breaks regularly.

Do I need any special shoes or equipment for using a standing desk?

While there are special shoes designed for people who spend a lot of time on their feet, they are not necessary for using a standing desk. However, it's important to wear comfortable shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning for your feet.

Can using a treadmill or elliptical at my desk replace regular exercise?

No, using a treadmill or elliptical at your desk is not a replacement for regular exercise. While it can provide some additional movement throughout the day, it's important to engage in regular exercise outside of work hours to maintain overall health and fitness.


In conclusion, physical therapists do recommend standing desks as a way to improve posture and reduce the risk of various health problems associated with prolonged sitting. However, it's important to remember that standing for too long can also be detrimental to your health. To get the most benefit from a standing desk, it's important to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day and to take breaks and stretch regularly.


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