Standing desk good for lower back pain?

Most cases of lower back pain originate from bad posture, standing fixes most of the bad posture, so using a standing desk almost automatically improves your back pain.

Besides using a sit-stand desk, there are lot of small things you can do for your posture - these all add up to improve your back pain.

Good ergonomics is a must for your standing desk to improve your back pain.

Did you know? The leading cause of lower back pain is poor posture.

Poor posture is a leading cause of lower back pain. An ergonomic sit-stand desk can fix a lot of issues, for example forward head posture is fixed by proper monitor height.
Poor posture is a leading cause of lower back pain. An ergonomic sit-stand desk can fix a lot of issues, for example forward head posture is fixed by proper monitor height.

Having an improper posture is more than enough for back pain to develop. Just by doing your everyday chores with a bad posture - sit, stand, walk or sleep - will put pressure on parts of your body where there should not be so much. This leads to injury and pain.

On the long term back pain can turn into chronic pain as your discs get permanently injured. Thus the earlier you notice this issue, the easier the fix is.

Posture is important when you wouldn't even dream about it - during your sleep.

Avoid these bad sitting postures to stay healthy

There are different kind of bad postures, but all of them are bad for your health. The most common ones you'll meet in the office are:

  • Slumping forward in your office chair.
  • Not using your chair's lumbar support.
  • Sliding forward on the seat of your chair.

And then there are some common ones too you might not think about:

  • Carrying a heavy bag on one side.
  • Lordosis or swayback - when you have a too big inward curve in the lower back.
  • Slouching with the shoulders hunched too forward.
  • Keeping your phone pressed to your ear with your shoulder.
  • Using high-heeled shoes or tight clothes.

Stretching your joints often to the end of the range of motion is bad too.

Having to stretch your joints to the end of the range of the joint's motion can lead to injuries and shortening or lengthening of the ligaments.

That's why having a mis-placed mouse, wrong height for your screen or keyboard can be so damaging on the long term. Two tier sit-stand desks help you get the proper height for both your keyboard and your screen and reduce the chance of an injury.

Fatigue from sitting all day long can promote injury too

Have you noticed how fatigue will make you slip into bad postures?

Sitting all day long will make you feel fatigued - this in turn will lead to bad posture like leaning in too much, or sliding forward in your chair to feel a bit more comfort. This can directly lead to lower back pain.

Poor posture can lead to serious consequences

Besides pain, improper posture can lead to other serious consequences.

The injuries add up through the years and can lead to chronic pain, disc problems, joint wear and tear.

Another serious consequence of poor posture is adaptive shortening

As the pain gets worse, people tend to contort themselves into bad posture to avoid the pain.

This in turn can lead to the loss of the neutral position, which will slowly but surely make things worse.

After some time the soft tissues adapt to this poor posture by shortening and lengthening, and getting back to your old self will be even harder, as you'll have to fight your own body.

The sooner you start fixing your posture, the easier it will be.

Adopt a good posture for standing

Getting your posture fixed is not hard! Just by following a few guidelines you can get 90% there. Using a sit-stand desk helps a lot too, as a standing combined with good ergonomics automatically fixes your posture, and prevents back pain.

Follow these to fix your posture:

  • Stand straight up with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Pull in your stomach and flex your buttocks to improve your posture.
  • Let you arms hang naturally by your side.
  • Do not lock your knees - bend them just slightly and use your thigh muscles to hold your weight.
  • Use your whole feet to bear your weight, not just your heels.
  • Do the wall test: stand with your back to a wall. Your buttocks, shoulder and head should touch the wall. If not, change your posture until they do.
  • Make sure you regularly shift your weight between your feet.

Walk tall

Taking care to walk tall is an easy way to fix your posture.

Keeping your posture right while walking or running is just as important as having a proper posture when standing. The easiest way to keep your posture is to look straight ahead, and have your head balanced on your spine. Taking care of your shoulders - not dropping them - will give you the perfect, healthy posture for walking.

Avoid having to shrug your shoulders to reach the keyboard

If your keyboard is up too high, you'll have to shrug your shoulders to properly reach it, this will overstrain your muscles and cause back pain.

Your muscles will be tired from being contracted all the time, and will not have enough power left to help you keep a good posture.

Your keyboard should be just high enough that your elbow is at 90..120 degrees when reaching for them. For most people the ideal keyboard height is about an inch above the hips.

You can adjust Stand up desk store's desks between really high and low, which makes it easy to get the height right.

Move your weight between your legs, using a footstool helps with fatigue and posture

Move your weight between your legs, or raising one leg onto a footstool while standing on your other leg effectively combats fatigue.

Moving your legs around will prevent strain from being stuck in a static position, and helps with the circulation too.

One of the best kept secrets of a good posture is to keep moving while standing. This will keep your body vitalized, and will prevent you from slipping into a bad posture.

Do not lean for the screen

If your screen is not high enough you'll let your head forward, which in turn leads to tension in your back and neck.

You can use a simple shoe box to raise your display to the proper level. Make sure your gaze passes through the upper third of your screen when looking straight ahead.

Screen-eye distance counts too! If your screen is too far away you'll compensate by moving your head forward. Solve this by moving your screen closer, just as close as it's comfortable for you.

Two tier standing desks and stand-only workstations with integrated monitor holder are great to get the screen-height issue sorted.

For a professional solution get a monitor arm.

Use your laptop with external screen or keyboard

One of the reasons while laptops are not ergonomic at all is that either the keyboard is in a good position, but the screen is badly placed, or the screen is at the right height but the keyboard is too high up. Both can lead to back pain.

If you have a laptop your best bets are to use an external keyboard so both the laptop's screen and the keyboard is at the right height. Another solution for this problem is to use the laptop's keyboard and get an external display and a monitor arm.

Adopt a good posture for sitting

Besides having a good posture while standing, it's also important to keep a good posture while sitting in your chair.

For best results get an adjustable office chair with proper support.

  • The chair should have a high back, and it should be firm.
  • Armrests are a must.
  • If your chair can roll and pivot use it! Do not twist your body.

Do not lean forward or slouch forward - these both would compromise your posture. Follow these guidelines:

  • Keep your elbows at about 90 degrees - adjust your chair's and desktop's height.
  • Your knees should be at the level of your hips.
  • Keep your feet planted on the floor. If your chair's too high use a footrest.
  • Keep your shoulders straight and relaxed.
  • Keep your upper back and neck comfortably straight.
  • Sitting too long is bad for your back. Make sure you get enough standing time.
  • Do not cross your legs. While this feels good in the short run, it cuts of your circulation.
  • The chair's back should follow your lower back's curve. If it does not use a small pillow, or roll up a towel to support your lower back.

Ideally your office chair should have these 5 adjustment possibilities:

  • Backrest height.
  • Backrest angle.
  • Seat height (pneumatic).
  • Arm height adjustment.
  • Tilt controls: tilt tension adjustment and tilt lock. These help you tilt forward and back in your chair.
  • Make sure the chair's controls are convenient, easy to reach and operate.

Getting a sit stand desk without stabilizing bars between the legs helps because you won't hit your knee/shin everytime you sit down.

Double check that your back is comfortable

  • Make sure your lower back and shoulder blades are well-supported.
  • Height-adjustable lumbar support is a must - not all people's back have the same height.
  • The chair should be wide enough to fit your back.
  • The chair should fit your back both if you sit upright and if you lean back.

Will you need adjustable armrests?

Armrests help you get in and out of your chair and protect your joints from strain.

Double check that the armrests can support your weight and the chair stays stable when you push down on the armrests.

For best results go for broad, cushioned adjustable armrest - these will make sitting even more comfortable.

Some chair's armrest can move so they are not in the way when you do not need them. This feature is nice to have but not crucial.

Will you need a headrest?

While not crucial, headrests reduce the load on your neck and shoulders when you recline - so these can help with your back pain too.

Check your chair's stability

Your chair should have 5 legs with casters so it's both stable and easy to move around.

Your sleeping posture counts too!

When lying on your back put a pillow under your knees for support, and another under your neck for support.

Having a firm mattress is a plus, but not necessary. In general sleeping on your side is better for your back than sleeping on your stomach. Use a pillow to support your head when on your side, and a pillow between your knees will make your sleep more comfortable.

Use pillows to keep your spine straight when sleeping on your side.

Sleeping on your stomach will let your back muscles contract which could result in back pain. Never use a pillow when sleeping on your stomach as this would contort your neck.

The best sleeping positions are on your back and on your side. Use only small pillows to avoid pain.

Your bed could be too worn out to properly support you - dump it

An old bad can cause years of suffering if you are not careful enough. People spend a lot of time sleeping - a bed which is not ergonomic will hurt your spine for 8 hours every day.

If your back pain is worse after sleeping this could be caused by a worn out bed or mattress. Get a setup which keeps your spine straight - your back will thank your for this.

Your back will take time to heal, but the sooner you dump your old bed/mattress the sooner it will happen. If you have found a combination you like go for it, even if it costs a bit more than you are comfortable with - in the end you only have one spine, and your new bed or mattress will keep you pain free for years to come.

Once you fix your bed you'll spend less on massages and chiropractors.

Use your breaks effectively

Walking and stretching during your breaks will reduce the chance of back pain.

To leave your back pain behind build out a mini-routine for your breaks:

  • Walk a few minutes, keep your head up, stay tall.
  • Stretch your hand towards the ceiling, gently try to reach higher and higher.
  • Hold the topmost position for a few seconds then slowly let your arms down again to their resting position.
  • Next squeeze your shoulder blades gently together and keep this position for a few seconds.
  • Walk a few minutes after stretching and you are good to go.

To this stretching exercise every time you take a break and watch how you sit - the more small steps you can take towards a healthier spine, the better. A sit stand desk with memory buttons helps because you'll need less time to adjust your desk, and have more time to stretch and rest.

Take care of your posture out of your office too

Keep yourself to the principles of ergonomics even after you finish your work in the office.

For best results talk to a specialist who can give you recommendations tailored to your specific needs. In general try to keep a neutral spine whatever you do - for example if you need to lift something lift it using your thigh muscles, and do not bend at the waist.

Do not carry bags in one hand

Do not carry heavy bags in one hand or on one shoulder. This will lead to a habit where you overuse one side, which in turn will lead to your body taking on a permanent bad posture.

To survive with a heavy bag:

  • Keep switching the sides you carry it on.
  • Split the contents up into two smaller bags you can carry on both sides if possible.
  • Use bags with shoulder straps to even out the load.
  • Use a suitcase with wheels and switch sides regularly.

Using both sides symmetrically is especially important with children as they carry a lot of weight in their school bags. Make sure they use both shoulder straps.

Keeping your abs and buttocks tight will help you improve your posture and lessen back pain

Your abdominal muscles help supporting your spine. Letting your belly out will put too much weight on the front side of your spine, which will give your spine an unhealthy curvature. Concentrate on your abs to fight it.

Check your breathing

Double check your breathing - sitting too much could push your body towards shallow breathing, which weakens the respiratory muscles and alters the posture too.

If you notice that your breathing is shallow, first check your posture, and make sure you are upright enough to properly breath. Once you get your posture right force yourself to breath deeper. Just don't overdo it, give yourself time.

Strengthen the muscles on the back side of your body

Strengthening your hamstrings, glutes (back thigh muscles) and back muscles can work wonders for your posture. Once you get these muscles into shape they'll be able to support your body better, and your lower back pain will be gone too.

Get professional help to improve your lower back pain

After getting a standing desk and fixing your bed, getting professional help for your back problem is the third best thing you can do. The two main options to go for are visiting a chiropractor and visiting a masseur.

Visit a chiropractor

If you visit a chiropractor you'll get a complete assessment of your body, and he/she will suggest the treatments which could improve your situation.

Find a chiropractor who gives you practical advice on maintaining a good posture. Having someone who just analyzes your posture and points out the problems is not enough.

Get a massage

Massages are very effective at reducing back pain. In the long term regular massages could improve your health and well-being more than painkillers or anti-inflammatory agents could.

Often it's not your back that needs a massage.

If your masseur finds that your glutes need more work to improve your back pain it's totally normal. As all the muscles on the back side of your body work together to maintain a correct posture, you may find that problem causing your back pain is in your glutes, hamstrings or even buttocks.

A good masseur will work these problematic spots, and make sure you leave healthier than you arrived.

Get the devices needed for a correct posture

There are a lot of devices on the market which can help you improve your posture, and eliminate your lower back pain.

  • Posture correctors help by forcing your body into the correct posture. This is something you may not like.
  • Office add-ons such as monitor arms, keyboard trays and sit-stand desks help by making your workspace more ergonomic, and improve your posture indirectly.

Get a posture corrector

Posture correctors work by forcing your body into the correct posture, using a combination of straps.

These devices are discreet, you can wear them under or over your clothes and will quickly help fixing your posture.

In the long run you are probably better of using another method to improve your posture, as your muscles may actually weaken when using these correctors - often these take over the roles your muscles should be doing.

Get a monitor arm

Monitor arms are one of the best accessories to improve your posture.

Adjustable monitor arms help by moving the monitor to you nomatter how you sit or stand. This way you will not have to adapt a bad posture to clearly see your display, but you can keep your posture and move the monitor to the appropriate position.

For best results position your monitor such that you are looking through the top third of it when looking straight ahead.

While monitor arms are the best solution for this problem, two tier standing desks and stand-only workstations with integrated monitor holder help too.

Get a keyboard tray

The same way monitor arms help you move your display to the best position, keyboard trays help you move your keyboard where you can reach it best.

If you have a keyboard tray you will not have to contort your arms and wrist to reach you keyboard, which improves the ergonomics.

Keyboard trays open right bellow the desk surface. This means that you will not have to raise your monitor so much to reach the appropriate keyboard-display height difference.

Last but not least - get an adjustable sit-stand desk

As standing is one of the best fixes for back pain and bad posture, getting an adjustable sit-stand desks is one of the easiest ways to improve your back's health.

You can set the desk to the right height, so you will not have to lean in or slouch - this means you'll spine will have a chance to take up it's natural, neutral shape.

Standing desks come in all shapes and sizes - from small to extremely large ones , electric , pneumatic or spring-loaded ones so you'll surely find one you like and helps you improve your back pain.

Learn more

There are a lot of helpful resources on how good posture and standing desks help lower back pain: