Dispatches From A Standing Desk, Week 1

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It was somewhat shocking to learn how long it would take to fully recover from a dislocated toe — 6 to 8 weeks and, in my case, even a bit more. But, finally, I felt comfortable enough on my feet again to give the standing desk another shot. Last weekend, I set everything up again and was determined to start afresh on Monday morning.

I have to say that my first instinct when I walked into my office was to sigh. The last thing I wanted to do was to stand up all day. But I got over it soon enough, and reluctantly assumed the position.

My Setup

As a reminder, I’ve got the Ready Desk holding my external monitor, wireless keyboard and wireless mouse, while alongside it, I’ve got my laptop arranged as a second, sitting, workstation.

Photo via TheReadyDesk.com

The idea is that I can switch between the positions as needed, because, even though there’s plenty of evidence that sitting all day is killing us, it turns out that standing all day isn’t so great either. Ask waiters and nurses.

So, before I started this whole initiative, I conducted lots of research about the proper gear and approach, determined to make standing as comfortable as humanly possible. My thought was that if I approached it incorrectly, I’d be less likely to be successful and I’d risk becoming another of those standing desk casualties. To that end, I invested in an anti-fatigue mat to stand on; I set up my desktop so I could stand comfortably and see my monitor and type easily. (I’m doing it RIGHT NOW.)

Life Lessons

But some things are only learned through experience. The second morning, after standing a good portion of the prior day, I got out of bed only to experience a deep painful cramp in my right leg. I also often experience knee soreness when standing up for long periods of time — and doing so at the desk was no exception.

I could be an anomaly and have more of a comfort challenge than your typical desk jockey, since I’m quite overweight which, needless to say, means I’m demanding more from my feet and joints. But that observation makes me all that more determined, as I know standing burns a heck of a lot more calories than sitting — I figured this out when I loaned my husband my Fitbit for a day, and he racked up an amazing number of steps at work, just because he’s moving from place to place more regularly than I do.

Anyway, I came to the conclusion that my shoe choice, or lack of choice, really, could have been the culprit, so it seemed a good thing to tweak. I started the week all nonchalant, wearing the flip flops or other sandals I’m accustomed to wearing every day. Sure, I’d seen people recommend comfortable, supportive shoes, but I thought maybe I could get away with it. Nope. That didn’t last for more than a day or two.

Then, I tried wearing socks and New Balance walking shoes, which were marginally better. But then the soles of my feet started hurting, even though I was wearing fairly decent sports socks. I also tried going entirely barefoot, and doubling up on the anti-fatigue mats — I’d originally purchased one for the office and another for the kitchen, so I hauled the kitchen one into the office and put it atop the other. It helped somewhat.

By late Wednesday, however, I was on Google and Amazon searching for “comfortable shoes” and “shoes for standing desk” and such things. I settled on a pair of Dansko clogs that got very positive reviews, purchasing them used (an Amazon return, most likely) at a good discount.


With all of these tweaks and attempts to try different things, by the end of the week I was as comfortable standing as sitting, if not more so. It helps that it’s much easier to use the keyboard, mouse and external monitor than the laptop keys — that’s an incentive to stand, for sure. As far as what the secret formula is, floor-equipment-wise, I have to say there is no single secret formula.

The Secret Formula

What’s worked for me is to change things up very regularly. I shift onto the sides of my feet; I go up on my tiptoes; I lean back on my heels; I stand on one foot, then stand on the other (“like a Flamingo” I saw it referred to somewhere). While I’m doing that, I twist my raised foot around to stretch the ankle. And I bend my knees occasionally, just to shake things up. I wear shoes; I go barefoot. Making regular changes is what keeps the fatigue from taking over.

Here I’ll briefly mention one of the really cool and interesting tools I’ve employed to keep things interesting — it’s called the Level by Fluidstance, and it looks kind of like a wooden skateboard that allows you to wiggle sideways, and forwards and backwards, while you work. Here’s someone’s recent tweet about theirs:

The @fluidstance Level that I bought myself as an early b-day gift arrived! Working from home has never been so fun! pic.twitter.com/lsNrAGWI5F

— Michelle Tam (@nomnompaleo) September 16, 2015

And this is the part where I tell you that received the Level free of charge so that I could review it, but I didn’t promise to say only positive things — I just agreed to give my honest opinion and disclose the relationship. In my next post, I’ll review it extensively, as I have a lot of observations about it — especially as someone with ADD.

So, those are my week 1 learnings and tweaks — more to come as my standing desk experience grows more extensive. Maybe I’ll even straighten up my office enough to take pictures. Or maybe not.

The post Dispatches From A Standing Desk, Week 1 appeared first on The River.


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