What are Standing Desks?

Shannon Kietzman

Standing desks have been around for hundreds of years, though modern designs are created for a different purpose than their antique counterparts. In the 18th and 19th centuries, standing desks were considered to be a sign of prestige. Today, they are an ergonomic alternative for those who wish to reduce pain and discomfort.

Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

As the name implies, standing desks are desks at which the user stands rather than sits. Standing desks are designed to be at a level where the user can easily stand and perform tasks without having to crouch down or reach upward. In fact, standing desks of the past were commonly measured to precisely match the height and needs of the user. Because of the custom-made nature of standing desks, only the rich could afford them.

While modern day standing desks aren’t necessarily measured to precisely fit one user, they have certain characteristics that allow users of various heights to use the same desk. The most common method is to place the desk surface at a slant. In this way, each user can slide work into the position that best suits his or her height.

Standing desks may also have adjustable legs. In this way, the surface can remain flat, while its height can be adjusted. This design is less popular with many users, because adjusting it each time is more difficult and time consuming than using the slanted model. Another option with standing desks is to place a pedestal near them, on which various users can stand in order to achieve the proper height. Often, this solution is impractical, however, as most users prefer to be able to move freely back and forth while using standing desks.

A popular solution for standing desks is to have a surface that is adjustable to various users. This design is usually the easiest to manipulate and meets the needs of the greatest number of users, while still allowing the desk to have a level area where items can be placed without fear of them falling off. Often, the desktop can also be lifted in order to reveal a storage area underneath.

Supporters of using standing desks believe they reduce back pain and injuries when compared to sitting desks. Some advocates also believe the standing desk could be the answer to the growing problem with obese children in the United States, as it encourages more activity and movement.

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Discussion Comments


Thomas Jefferson, Ernest Hemmingway and Donald Rumsfeld are all known to have used stand-up desks. They are so much better for your back than sitting all day, I cannot believe that they are not more popular.

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