Does Your Desk Stand the Test?

Does your desk stand the test?

The problem

In the clinic we see a lot of neck and shoulder pain and this can cause chronic headaches relating to sitting at a desk for extended periods.  Every day we get asked whether a stand up desk might help. The answer is yes, but there are a few other things to consider first.


Make sure you get up every 45 minutes for a stretch, to grab a drink, or take a tea break.

Poor equipment

The problem is often caused by a poor desk set up. That might be a dodgy chair or using a Laptops as a desktop computer without a separate keyboard and mouse or elevating the screen to eye height. Try to fix your current set up before going to the stand up desk.


If your chair is a concern, look at getting a swivel one with a Lumbar support adjustable back and seat rest which should be at a slight decline with your feet touching the ground.


Your screen should be at eye level with no more than 20° of tilt and no more than 100cm from your eyes. Your keyboard and mouse should be separate to the computer and sit square with your main screen allowing your elbows to be at 90°.


A basic desk should fit your chair and knees under comfortably and be big enough to have two screens but not so big that you have to stretch to reach your printer or phone.


If you still need a stand up desk, this is what else you need to think about:

  • If you have ongoing foot and lower back issues that are aggravated by standing, the desk may be under utilised.
  • The desk needs to quickly and easily go from sitting to standing, as it will make you more likely to use it and won’t cause more injuries.
  • Price $$$ – preferably a press button desk rather than clumsy winding system is recommended, but this does push the price up.
  • The shoes you wear! If you’re not going to wear sensible shoes, don’t bother standing. (Hint: keep a second pair stashed under the desk for those important meetings.)
  • Consider the height of the desk and whether it goes high enough.


Here are two reasonably cheap desks from Officeworks: