Ergonomic desks: Can a Good Standing Desk Save You From Back Pain?

More and more jobs require sitting at a desk for hours on end. This is not only exhausting but also unhealthy for your body. Back pain and neck tension are often the results. But since we can hardly avoid doing our work at the desk, we should do something good for our body in particular and take as much care of it as possible.

How does it work? Ergonomics is the magic word. With an ergonomic desk, you can noticeably relieve your back, shoulders, and neck despite long shifts – this will be particularly noticeable in the future.

According to gostanding.org, the standing desk market is going to reach $2.5 billion dollars by year 2024.

Here we present our ergonomic desks and show you what is important for back-friendly working in the office.

What is an ergonomic desk?

An ergonomic workplace promotes performance

In order to clarify this question, we first look at the meaning of the term ergonomics. It is derived from the Greek and is composed of the words “ergon” (work) and “nomos” (law), in other words, we are dealing here with the laws of work.

In plain language, this means that ergonomics deals with the working conditions for people, with the aim of optimally adapting the working environment and work equipment to human needs in such a way that the strain is reduced and the ability to perform and concentrate is strengthened.

Requirements for an ergonomic desk

An ergonomic desk should optimally support the work processes of its user. Thus, the central feature of an ergonomic desk is that it is height-adjustable and can, therefore, be individually aligned according to body size.

In addition, an ergonomic desk should be flexible enough to adapt to the needs of its user in terms of work surface, legroom, etc., so that the user can work well and healthily.

The right desk height

The height of the desk is decisive for the correct posture

An ergonomic desk is already the first important step to relieve your body despite long working hours. After the purchase, however, it is important to adjust the desk correctly. If the desk is too high or too low, this can have negative health consequences (more on this later).

So what is the right height for your desk? Generally speaking, a desk with a height of 65 to 85 cm is ideal, depending on your height.

Examples: For a body height of 1.65 m, the optimal height of the desk is 68 cm, for a body height of 1.80, a desk with a height of 78 cm is recommended.

However, before you adjust the height of your desk, first take a look at your desk chair. If it is correctly adjusted to your height, you can adjust the desk perfectly to it.

With stand-sit desks, you can always decide anew at what height you want to work

Excursus: ergonomic desk chairs

Since desk and office chair should be coordinated, here is a small digression to the ergonomic desk chair. Of course, this chair is also distinguished by the fact that it is height-adjustable according to body size. Other components such as arm and backrests should also be optimally aligned with the user.

This way you can adopt the correct sitting position when your upper and lower legs are at a 90-degree angle to each other and you have firm ground contact with both feet. Try to use the entire seat surface and not to sit on the edge of the chair – only then will your back be supported by the backrest and your spine be in a straight, healthy position.

Determining the height of the desk

After you have adjusted your desk chair, you can now adjust the height of your desk to it.

This is how you determine the ideal working height in relation to the office chair: If your desk chair has armrests, these should ideally form a continuous line with the work surface of the table.

If there are no armrests, our forearms set the tone: They should be able to rest horizontally on the desk, possibly dropping slightly towards the wrist. Like the legs, the upper and lower arms should also form a right angle. In this way, you ensure that your shoulder and neck muscles are relieved.

The optimal work surface

Corner desks offer plenty of space for structured work – and for creative ideas

Above all, an ergonomic desk should also offer sufficient work surfaces so that you can organize yourself well. After all, enough space for your work utensils promotes structure and order, which in turn saves valuable working time.

Of course, the dimensions of the desk in particular play a decisive role in this. An ergonomic desk should ideally measure 80 cm in depth and 160 cm in width. With regard to the minimum dimensions of a desk, experts speak of 120 cm width and 60 cm depth. In the best case, leave 80 cm space on both sides of your desk to give you plenty of room.

Ergonomic structuring of the work surface

For ergonomically correct work, there are a few tips and tricks on how to arrange your work surface. The best way to do this is to place frequently used work equipment on the table up to a depth of 30 cm. For example, the mouse and keyboard should be about 10 to 15 cm from the front edge of the table. In this way, you can ensure that the balls of your hands are relaxed. Between the keyboard and the screen, there is a space of about 30 cm between the keyboard and the screen for documents and papers.

To avoid cable tangle on your desk, a desk should have cable ducts, so you can put all cables under the table in one place, so that they don’t take up your workspace unnecessarily and can even become a nasty tripping hazard.

The correct viewing distance from the screen

A proper distance to the screen relieves your eyes

Since working nowadays usually consists of hours of looking at the screen, we should relieve our eyes as much as possible. For this, a correct viewing distance to the screen is essential. Depending on your eyesight, this is about 50 to 80 cm, so that your eyes do not tire. The screen should also be tilted backward by approx. 35° to counteract heavy strain and unhealthy posture.

Excursus: the right lighting at the workplace

For optimal visual conditions, of course, it is not only necessary to ensure the optimum viewing distance to the screen. The right lighting also plays a decisive role in protecting the eyes as much as possible. When choosing your desk lamp, it is, therefore, best to choose a lamp with a swivel arm and rotating head to ensure that the light cone is precisely aligned.

Under no circumstances should a desk lamp dazzle you during work. The position of your lamp is also crucial for this. In the best case, the lamp illuminates your desk from the side to avoid so-called reflected glare. For generally glare-free work, an ergonomic desk should have a matt table surface that prevents reflections.

Legroom

Important for your health: legroom at the workplace! At best, your ergonomic desk is free of various substructures and offers enough space under the tabletop so that you can sit comfortably and change your sitting position without hindrance. Because: dynamic sitting keeps your intervertebral discs in healthy motion and also promotes concentration.

Also important for working: a good indoor climate. Office furniture made of wood promotes this.

Incorrect sitting posture: health effects

An unhealthy sitting posture, especially static sitting, can lead to muscle tension (in the long term even to muscle shortening or weakening). The correct setting of the desk is crucial, because:

– A desk that is too low can result in a bent posture, which can lead to a painful hunchback. In addition, this posture puts too much strain on the arms and wrists – this is not only unhealthy, but also makes the work process more difficult and thus leads to rapid fatigue.

– A desk set too high, on the other hand, can cause neck and shoulder tension, as the high position of the desk pushes them upwards and tenses them.

General tips for ergonomic working

Getting up from time to time, running and simply keeping your body on the move promotes your health

With the following tips you can do something good for your health during working hours:

✔ regular change of the sitting position

✔ regular stretching exercises, e.g. shoulder circles to the back, stretching the neck in all directions, etc.

✔ Rule 60:30:10: 60 % in sitting position, 30 % in standing position, 10 % in walking position. Of course, this is not always easy to achieve, but just try to exchange ideas about the next project with your colleague while standing or walking – for example, while having a delicious cup of tea.

Elevator vs. stairs: If you have the chance, use it and give your body as much exercise as possible and do without the comfortable elevator at least once a day (gladly more!). There is no need to set a speed record – only the movement counts!

✔ Try to look into the distance, e.g. out of the window, in between, so that your eyes fixate on something in the distance. This is very good for them as a change “staring” at the screen!

Advantages of an ergonomic desk

Your back will thank you: ergonomic desks strengthen your muscles

Here we summarize all the advantages of ergonomic working at the desk in a brief overview:

✔ Height-adjustable desks: optimal adjustment for the right posture

✔ optimal dimensions for the correct visual distance to relieve the eyes

✔ Strengthening concentration and performance

✔ Changing the sitting position for healthy intervertebral discs

✔ keep the circulation going

…and now we wish you good luck!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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