Switching to a Standing Desk

Last week I decided to try a standing desk.  I had been sitting behind my computer for the last 6 days, about 10 to 11 hours per day.  My back hurt, my posture was horrific, and I was just feeling horrible.

A friend of mine had switched his work desk to a standing one quite a while back, so I started doing some research.  After a few days I decided it was time to give it a shot.

I decided to go cheap to start.  I mean, who knew, I may have hated it.  Searching the web brought me to a number of pages showing a cheap Ikea standing desk make of a Lack side table, a couple of Ekby shelf brackets, and a wooden shelf.  I have a two monitor setup on my desk, each monitor is 27″.  As luck would have it, we had 2 Lack side tables in the living room.  I stole them (with permission from the wife) and made room on my desk.  The Lack tables are the perfect height for monitors.  The top 1/3 of the monitor is at my eye level (I’m 5’10”).  I didn’t want to spend any money yet, so I stacked books in front of the side tables and place a board across them for my keyboard.  It was wobbly, and collapsed a couple of times during my week test, but it worked.  I had some interlocking foam mats lying around as well, and I put those on the floor so I could have something soft to stand on.

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My first full day at the standing desk was Monday.  I started at 5:45 AM and ended my day at 16:45.  Pretty much a regular amount of time at the keyboard.

It was heinous.

Even though I spent 50 to 60% of the day sitting, I was in pain.  My calves hurt.  My feet hurt.  My back hurt.  My neck hurt.  My shoulders hurt. My…  You’re getting the picture, right?

Later that evening, most of the pain was gone, except for my lower back.  I almost gave up.  But I had told myself I’d go a week and see how things were.  So I soldiered on.

Tuesday started out about the same.  Looking at my notes, I see this line:

6:48 AM - This may not be a good idea.

I had all the pains of the previous day, with a new one.  My heels hurt.  That’s right, my heels.  Really really badly.  I struggled through, still reverting to sitting for 50 to 60% of my workday.

By the end of Tuesday, I was feeling better.  Except for my damn heels.  My neck and shoulder pain had gone.  My calves felt okay.  My lower back was still bad.  And did I mention my heels?

Wednesday rolled around, and I found myself looking forward to walking into my office and starting work.  No need to pull up the chair and settle in.  Just walk in, stand at the keyboard, and go.  The feeling didn’t last.  I went to make a mid-morning coffee, and as I was walking back to the office I started thinking about settling in and getting to work.  Of course, there was no place to settle in to.  Standing desk.  Oh yeah.

By noon I was hopping from foot to foot.  My heels didn’t just hurt anymore, they were on fire.  I looked down at my feet, nice and cozy in a pair of socks, and thought maybe I should try shoes.  I put them on, stood at the desk, and smiled.  The heel pain was substantially less.  My best guess is the arch support the shoes provided helped.

I made it to the end of Wednesday.  My heels still hurt, as well as my lower back.  But it was tolerable.

Thursday was better.  The shoes truly help.  By the end of the day, I still had heel and lower back pain, but again, it was tolerable.  I was finding that I looked for any excuse to leave the desk though… Get a coffee, just wander.  Whatever.  My productivity was down.  In hindsight, that may have been because I was doing taxes.

So now it’s Friday.  I still hurt, but it gets better everyday.  I find I sit when someone comes into my office, on a bar stool so I don’t sink right down.  My heels still hurt, and my lower back.  But it ain’t bad.  I stand about 80% of my workday, and sit or walk around the rest.  I’m almost never standing still, unless I’m really neck deep in typing.  I’m usually bouncing from foot to foot, taking a step backward and then forward again.  They say having a small foot rest helps.  I’ll try that next week.

Did I just say that?  Next week?  I must be mad as a hatter (to be cliché).

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