Stand Up Desks A Physio’s Verdict

 In Exercise and Health


The standing desk revolution has well and truly begun!

As a physiotherapist I am regularly asked by my clients and friends and family members whether standing up desks have merit.

My response centres around the fact that every day thousands of people experience neck and lower back pain, as a result of sitting at their workstations. Simply put and in my professional and personal opinion our bodies were not designed to sit for 8 hours a day at a desk.


Sitting for long, extended periods of time at work impacts our health in several negative ways:

  • Increases loads upon low-back and neck structures including joints and discs
  • Encourages poor slouching postures and poor neuro-muscular postural control
  • Leads to the tightening and shortening of hip, low-back, shoulder, mid-back and neck muscles.


There is a greater awareness than ever before for employers and employees to adopt safe and sustainable workplace environments to prevent injury and promote good workplace health. While workers still need to be in front of computers to complete their work, two  fantastic solutions now exist for the contemporary worker:

1) Change the work environment – stand up to back pain at work and explore standing desks!

Standing desks come in many different shapes and sizes and choosing the right one for your work demands and needs is important. Some standing desks are better than others. Features to consider in choosing the right standing desk for you include:

  • space and size of the workbench – dependent upon your needs
  • ease of adjustability – every desk has different adjustments that can be made to it’s height, length, width and parameters. Motorised standing desks can be advantageous when more than one person is using the same desk – especially if the workers are of different heights. 
  • affordability – the most expensive is not always the best – choose a standing desk that will last and be willing to pay for motorised adjustability.
  • weight-bearing capacity – workers requiring heavier or bulkier computer of other mechanical equipment on their standing desk, will need a desk with a greater weight bearing capacity.

James Birt, assistant professor at Bond University on the Gold Coast, reported, “the flexibility of the standing desk has reduced my sitting time throughout the day allowing me to work for longer time periods with less discomfort.” James has recommended all desk workers to “explore sit to stand options allowing more flexible work environments.

2) Increase your postural strength via a course of clinical pilates or exercise conditioning 

Clinical pilates is an excellent way to strengthen your core and postural muscles, which help to prevent neck and back overload while standing and sitting at work. Your physiotherapist will be able to develop an individual clinical pilates program to suit your work environment needs.

Make  a change in your desk duties this year. Break the cycle of niggling back and neck pain by exploring standing desks at work and speak to your physio regarding a home stretching program and clinical pilates program to strengthen your posture.

Your back (and your boss) will thank you for it!

ps. if you insist on staying seated than please check out a previous post of mine where I explored 12 Tips to a Pain Free Computer Workstation Computer Workstation.


Jacob Taylor (APAM)

POGO Master (Senior Physiotherapist)

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  • Carl

    Yes loving this idea i sit on my bottom way too much. I notice i tire quickly at standup desk so need to build up endurance.

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