How Tall Should A Standing Desk Be?

Set the height of your desk so that you can rest your elbow and forearm on it comfortably - when you put your forearms on the desk, your forearm and upper arm should be at 90 to 120 degrees. If you are unsure measure the distance between the floor and your elbow, and raise your desk to the this height.

The steps detailed:

  • Stand up straight, looking a bit upwards.
  • Let your arms down by your side, then bend one elbow to 90 degrees.
  • Bring the desk up until your fingers touch the keyboard. Experiment a bit with raising it one more inch to find the height that's best for you.
  • Next look straight forward, and raise or lower your monitor so that you are looking at the top third of the screen.
  • Your eyes should be 20 - 28 inches from the screen.
  • You'll need a different height with your shoes on than without.
  • Raising and lowering your desk just a bit through the day will make sure you do not get stuck in a single posture.
  • In the end your comfort is the most important. If something does not feel right, move your desk to find a comfortable position.

Calculate your ideal standing desk height with this handy calculator

Just plug your height into this calculator and it will give you the suggested desk height.

How to set the correct monitor height for your standing desk?

To set the correct height keep these in mind:

  • Your computer screen should be at eye height, looking straight forward you should see the center or the upper third part of the screen. Make sure you are not looking downwards.
  • First make sure your keyboard height is all right, then use a monitor mount to raise the screen.
  • If you are using bifocal lenses you'll have to lower your monitor.
  • Adjust your setup so your eyes are 20 - 28 inches from your screen.

How to set up your sit-stand workstation for sitting?

  • Sit on your chair with your feet resting on the floor. Your feet and thighs should be parallel with the floor.
  • Adjust the chair's height so that your knees are between 90 and 120 degrees while your feet are resting on the floor.
  • Next put your forearms on the desk. Your forearm and upper arm should be at 90 to 120 degrees. Raise or lower your to achieve this.
  • Finally set up your monitor: look straight forward and set your monitor so that you are looking through the top third of your screen. Make sure the screen is 20 to 28 inches from your eyes.
  • You can raise or lower the electronically adjustable standing desks really fast. Get one with memory function.

How to keep a good posture?

Having a good posture is very important for staying healthy, still most people just do not pay enough attention to it. A bad posture will decrease the time you can keep standing, and could give you an even worse back pain than you had when you were sitting.

To keep a good posture, stand up with your head back, your hips neither tilted forward or backward. Your spine should have a slight S curve.

Keep good ergonomics: if you are sitting get a good chair with pelvic support, keep your knees at 90 degrees or a bit more.

When standing make sure your elbows are at a comfortable 90 to 120 degrees as your forearm rests on your desk.

When looking straight forward you should be looking at the center to the top third of your screen, with your eyes 20 to 28 inches from it. You'll probably want to tilt your monitor 20 degrees upwards to keep it all comfortable.

The University of North Carolina has a nice article on office ergonomics here.

Neck and back care when standing

Taking care of the proper distance (20 to 28 inches) between your screen and your eyes will also take care of your neck and back.

Setting the proper height of the monitor will reduce the strain on your back and neck too.

Unless you are looking at the top third of your screen when your head is straight, your neck will have to compensate. This will lead to an improper posture.

It's better to look downwards a bit than looking upwards.

To improve your neck and back health, check this article from Mayo Clinic.

Arm supports improve your wrist, neck, and shoulder health.

Arm supports are made of a soft material and attach to your desk. They reduce the pressure on your wrist as you are using your mouse.

If you have wrist, neck or shoulder issues on the side your mouse is, an arm support could reduce your symptoms.

How can I reduce leg fatigue?

Using a standing mat will reduce the strain on your feet, knees and hips.

You can either get a kitchen mat, or a standing mat. Choose a standing mat if you'll be wearing your shoes while standing at your desk. If you are barefoot, or only wearing socks or slippers go for the kitchen mat.

If you are wearing shoes, the thinner standing mat will give adequate support for you. Kitchen mats are thicker and will give the support you need if you do not have your shoes on.

Do you need breaks with your standing desk?

Switching between sitting and standing every 30 to 45 minutes makes sure you will not get too tired from standing all day long.

This also avoids swollen ankles, which can be a side effect of standing too much without moving.

How to rest when using a standing desk?

  • If you have a stand-only desk, you can get a standing desk chair or a drafting chair.
  • If you have a sit-stand desk you can lower your desk and use a conventional chair.
  • Besides sitting down, marching in place and doing exercises can help too.

Tips to get the most out of your standing desk

If you feel like you need to sit down, get a chair

If you feel tired at your standing desk it could be simply due to standing too much.

If you have a sit-stand desk you can use a simple office chair (with pelvic support) and lower your desk.

If you can't lower your desk (like the stand up workstations) or it lowers too slow (due to using a crank), get a drafting chair or a chair designed specially for standing desks.

Take care of the ergonomics: make sure your elbows rest comfortably on the desk's surface, and you can comfortably reach the keyboard.

The ideal chair's height and backrest is adjustable, and it can tilt both forward and backward.

Adjust your keyboard and mouse position if you sit down or stand up

You can easily strain your wrists through the long hours you use your keyboard. Finding the most comfortable position will reduce this strain and the wrist pain.

You should tilt your keyboard upwards when standing, and lower it again when sitting down. Play with it around a bit and find out what's comfortable for you when standing and what's comfortable when sitting down, these two will not be the same.

Adjustable keyboard stand and gel mouse pad can improve your comfort even further. Make sure your keyboard and mouse is at the same height to avoid discomfort.

Try to spend less money on your stand-up workstation

It's easy to spend a lot of money to get everything you need for your workstation - the sit-stand desk, drafting chair, mat, monitor can cost an arm and leg.

If you are on a tight budget, getting creative can help a lot, and you can save your precious dollars!

If you have a small coffee table, putting it on your office table can give you a nice little working area. A sturdy shoe-box can function as a monitor stand - you name it!

You may have to experiment a bit and it will no look as good as a boxed solution, but you can be damn sure it will be a lot cheaper!

Compromises can be good too - get a small, good-looking stand-up desk and use nicely wrapped shoe box as your monitor stand.

Have your feet firmly on the floor

Footrest and mats help you keep your feet firmly on the floor, which reduces the strain on your back. Just try it out you will feel it!

While crossing your legs feels comfortable initially, this can cut off the circulation to your legs, strain your hip and back as you are leaning to the side.

Strive to make your workspace even more ergonomic

An ergonomic chair can help a lot by better fitting your body and keeping you comfortable throughout your working hours. Seat height adjustment, lumbar support, will help you find the comfortable posture no matter what you do.

Getting a keyboard tray will increase your level of comfort, as it brings the keyboard to you without you having to adjust your posture to reach it. This will keep you relaxed, helps the concentration and keeps fatigue at bay. There are stand-up workstations on the market with integrated keyboard trays.

Monitor arms help through the same mechanism a keyboard tray can help: they bring the monitor to you. You can adjust it to find your ideal posture. The monitor mount connects to you desk with a simple clamp, and you can adjust the monitor's height and tilt as you wish. This is great for your eyes and neck.

Don't stand too long

It's easy to fall into the trap of standing all day long once you get your standing desk.

When you start using your desk you should not stand for more than two hours during the day, it's the best to stand for half an hour, sit for at least half an hour, then start again.

Once you are accustomed to standing you can work yourself up to standing four hours a day with breaks.

Forcing standing for longer than you are comfortable with is bad as you may get fed up with it and revert to sitting all day long.

WebMD has a quick article on why it's not good to stand for too long.

Find the right position for your wrists

For good ergonomics you should use your mouse and keyboard with your wrists and forearms straight. This will help prevent repetitive strain injuries.

Your elbows should be at 90 to 120 degrees, resting at the side of your body.

Set the height for your use-case

Depending on what you use your stand-up desk for, you may will want to set it to different height.

  • If you are using your standing desk for reading you'll want to set it high.
  • If you are using your standing desk with a laptop or computer you'll want to set it lower by an inch or so, to reach your keyboard comfortably.

Double check your posture

Use this image to double-check your posture:

For best results alternate between these postures when working.

Learn more

To learn more about setting your standing desk height, correct posture and ergonomics check these articles:

These articles nicely round up all you need to know on setting the proper height for your standing desk.