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How Tall Should a Standing Desk Be?

Sheryl Cannes
Updated on: November 18, 2022

Standing desks have become a more common option in the office as their benefits have come to light. Better cardiovascular health, blood sugar regulation, and increased energy levels come when you have a chance to get out of a chair. But the advantages are moot if the desk isn’t adjusted correctly. Your standing desk has to be at the correct height for you to maintain good posture. The right setting for your desk depends on your height and how your body is proportioned.

The Right Standing Desk Height for You

Desk height affects your ability to maintain proper posture. Without it, you can experience back pain, tight shoulders, or neck stiffness. You can find desk height calculators online, but everybody is different. It’s usually more accurate to use your own body as the measurement for the ideal height of your standing desk.

The desk’s platform should sit at elbow height. That allows the arms to stay relaxed at your sides. When the arms are relaxed, the shoulders and neck stay relaxed, so you can maintain better posture.

Most standing desks have some adjustability. Even static models typically have one or two height options. If you’re outside of average height, under 5’4” for women and over 5’11” for a man, you may need to keep an eye out for a standing desk with extra adjustability options.

Other Standing Desk Adjustments

Height isn’t the only adjustment you need to make to maintain an ergonomic stance at a standing desk. A monitor or laptop screen at the wrong height puts extra strain on the neck and shoulders. The top of the screen should be at about eye level with an upward tilt of 10 to 20 degrees. Try to place the monitor 20 to 40 inches from your face to reduce eye strain. You may need a laptop stand to raise a laptop’s monitor to the right height. That would also mean you need a separate wired or wireless keyboard so that the arms stay at a comfortable 90-degree angle.

Some standing desks have a keyboard tray, helping you get the monitor at the right height but still maintain a comfortable 90-degree angle when typing. Other models have a monitor arm to provide more control over the monitor as you adjust it to the proper height.

Types of Standing Desks

Some types of standing desks are easier to adjust and maintain for single users, while others easily accommodate multiple users of different heights. Others, like a desk converter, are relatively inexpensive, while electronic and treadmill standing desks fall at the high-end of the price range. If you’ll be standing for long periods of time, it’s worth making sure you get a model that can reach the right angles for your body.

Sit-Stand Desk

A sit-stand desk looks like a standard sitting desk, except that it has a portion of the desktop that can raise for use while standing. The human body wasn’t meant to stay in a static position, whether sitting or standing, for hours on end. With this type of desk, you can alternate between sitting and standing anytime you want. Because both prolonged sitting and standing can cause lower back pain, this type of desk lets you take advantage of the best physical positions for you all from the same workspace.

Standing Desk with Hand Crank

A standing desk with an adjustable hand crank is an affordable option for offices with multiple users. The hand crank raises or lowers the entire desktop. The only downside with this type of desk is the noise. In some workspaces, that’s not a problem, but in others, it’s a dealbreaker.

Some standing desks with a hand crank function as a sit-stand desk. With these models, the desktop lowers far enough that you can use it with an ergonomic chair as a standard sitting desk.

Standing Desk Converter

A converter is a platform that rests on top of a sitting desk, converting it to a standing desk. Some are a fixed platform, while others raise or lower to a few different height options. A converter offers the most affordable choice because you can use them with an existing desk.

However, they tend to be small. Usually, they’re only large enough for a laptop. That’s great for your legs and lower back, but they’re not always ideal for your arms, wrists, shoulders, and neck. If you’re using a laptop, you cannot use a separate keyboard. That can potentially put extra stress on the neck if you have to look down at the screen. At the same time, if you raise the desk to the correct eye line, your shoulders could get hunched when using the keyboard.

Fixed Standing Desk

A fixed standing desk offers no height adjustability. They may not be the perfect height, but they’re less expensive than many of the other standing desk options except for standing desk converters.

Electric Standing Desks

Electric standing desks are pricey. However, these adjustable desks give you many ways to make sure you’re at the correct desk height. Rather than using a crank, the push of a button raises or lowers the desktop. They’re much quieter than a mechanical model.

Some electric standing desks include a memory feature that remembers two or more users. You press your assigned user number, and the desk automatically goes to the right height for you.

Like some of the mechanical standing desks, some electric standing desks lower far enough to be used as a sitting desk. That extra height adjustment allows you to optimize blood flow, from sitting to standing and back again.

Treadmill Desks

Treadmill desks take standing desks to the next level. They have a workspace attached to a treadmill with a top speed of around 2.5 mph. You don’t have any sitting options with these desks, but you can definitely keep your heart moving all day long. However, be ready for a significant financial investment.

Make Your Standing Desk Comfortable

The last adjustment you may want to make has nothing to do with the desk at all. It has everything to do with the floor. Anti-fatigue mats offer a cushion between the feet and the hard floor. There is evidence that standing on concrete or hard floors for extended periods of time can cause foot, leg, and back pain. These mats show positive effects for comfort and make standing desks an option for more users.

Conclusion

Standing desks offer a wide range of health benefits. However, you can lose some of the benefits if the desk isn’t adjusted correctly. Start with height. Remember to include the height of your shoes when adjusting the desk. From there, it’s making sure you have the screen and keyboard at comfortable levels based on the build of your body. Make sure to transition between standing and sitting throughout the day to keep your muscles strong and balanced.

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