Why a Standing Desk is Bad

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Updated August 30, 2022

Many consider standing desks as a method to break up their day by standing instead of sitting in the office, but they may not realize why a standing desk is bad in some ways. The best standing desk offers a wide range of benefits, but you may not be comfortable standing at the home or office all day.


  • Standing desks can increase pain in the back and shoulders if you do not use the correct posture.
  • Standing throughout the day can help burn calories and strengthen muscles.
  • You may have trouble with varicose veins if you stand all day without enough time sitting.

Many of the bad effects of standing desks can be counteracted by using better posture, gradually standing more, and sitting occasionally. So, you may wonder, what is a standing desk and when are standing desks better? Read on to find out more. Additionally, if you are looking to purchase one of these desks, you can check out our comparison of the Vivo standing desk vs Veridesk.

Cons of Standing Desks

Sit-stand desks, standing desks, or sit-to-stand desks refer to desks that ensure more activity throughout the day by standing. For many people, the biggest draw remains the increased calorie burn unrelated to physical activity that results from standing. Additionally, standing engages muscles that would remain inactive while sitting, causing these muscles to strengthen over time.

Insider Tip

Make sure you gradually work into standing more frequently.

Each of these positives helps explain why are standing desks expensive. However, several of these benefits come with their negatives as well. These negatives include pain and swelling in the legs and feet and enlarging veins over time. Because of these negatives, you may want to look into a footrest for your standing desk.

Gradually Increase Standing

Standing for too long can lead to pain and swelling in the feet and legs. Because of this factor, you should sit for a while before standing. Then, after standing for a while, sit once more. Additionally, you should gradually work up to longer standing time to reduce foot pain.

Experts recommend starting with the goal of two hours of standing time in total. First, however, you should begin to stand for about five minutes at a time. After you have reached your goal of two hours in a standing position, you can work up to extended periods like four hours. A good rule of thumb for this solution is a sitting to standing ratio of 2:1 period of time.

Maintain Your Posture

If you have a standing desk, you may end up with pain related to your posture. Whether you sit or stand at your desk, proper posture affects how adults feel at the end of the day regardless of desk height. For example, many people tend to slouch when using the computer, bending over to see the screen better. To improve your posture, make sure you keep your back straight and your shoulders down.

In an effort to reduce this pain, make sure that your desk is set up ergonomically. Your monitor should be positioned, so the top of the monitor sits at about the same height as your eye level. For the adjustable-height surface, set it so that your elbows bend at a 90-degree angle for long periods of time.


One of the concerns when using a standing desk relates to the effect of standing on your veins. As gravity pulls on your body, the blood in your body pools toward the bottom of your body. This feature causes swelling in your feet and can cause large varicose veins or spider veins.

If you have trouble with circulation already, you may struggle more with solutions related to sit-stand desks. You should check with your doctor before starting use if you have cardiovascular risk already. Additionally, you may not want to use a standing desk if you have orthostatic conditions, those that are agitated by position changes. For others, standing more frequently may help reduce the overall risk of heart disease.


Standing desks can help reduce pain related to bad posture while sitting, but they can cause blood pooling in the legs and feet.


Can a standing desk help my back pain?

If you adjust your posture or have a better posture while standing, a standing desk and an anti-fatigue mat may help to reduce back, neck, and shoulder pain.

Do I need good posture to use a standing desk?

You do not need good posture to use sit-stand desks, but this solution could help improve your life overall. Additionally, poor posture may cause aches and pains relieved by standing correctly and reducing your sedentary lifestyle.

How long should you stand at your standing desk?

You should gradually work into standing for longer. Ideally, once you have adjusted to standing more, you want to stand for about four hours.

STAT: People who stand for more than 6 hours a day are two or three times more likely to need surgery for varicose veins than people who stand or walk for less than 4 hours a day. (source)

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