Moving to A Sit/Stand Workstation

I switched my workstation from a seated configuration to a sit/stand design this winter. I had found my muscles becoming increasingly “frozen” from hours of sitting. I would get up at lunch or for a meeting and feel noticeably stiff, especially in my legs. Then I had the great fun of finding out at my 50-year physical that I was well on the way to the family malady of osteoporosis (thinning bones). Something had to change.

I’m a graphic designer, so I have been using an LCD/notebook combination for some time. The dual screens speed things up and I can grab the notebook each night to check email or finish up work projects at home. Dual monitors mean less clicking/toggling between screens/applications. Designers put in a lot of “mouse time” that can aggravate wrists and forearms. I also have a very cool wrist/elbow support that clips onto my desktop. This helps alleviate pain from an old repetitive stress injury to my right arm.

To create the sit/stand workspace, we measured my elbow height when I was standing, in my shoes, and raised the desktop to that level. An industrial floor mat was added for comfort, plus an adjustable drafting stool that includes a footrest. To be ergonomically correct, I should be using a small footstool when I am standing (to rest each leg, alternately), but I haven’t added that yet.

It did not take long to notice the difference standing made, especially since I didn’t order the drafting stool until a couple months later (standing all day is not recommended for people with hypertension or varicose veins). I found that I was using all of my muscles more, not just my legs. Joints feel more flexible, strength is added to the legs and feet. I even use my arms more because they are no longer propped up on armrests. It’s easier to meet with people when they come to my desk; we are both already standing and conversing at eye-level. Co-workers can walk right up to my monitor and we can discuss the design that is previewing on the screen.

Once the chair arrived, I noticed more benefits. The stiffness that develops from standing is eased when sitting, and the stiffness that develops from sitting is eased in standing. So it’s a great symbiosis. It will be interesting to see if there is an appreciable difference in the bone scan I have next year.