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Will A Standing Desk Fix My Back Pain?

standing desk for back pain

Can A Standing Desk Can Cure Your Back Pain?

Within six months of getting my first desk job, I was a member of the pain squad.

Like everyone else in sedentary jobs, sitting all day was giving me agonizing back pain that persisted even after I stopped sitting.  The worst part was that, after years of sitting all day, my chronic back pain became so bad that it persisted in my sleep and led to insomnia for several years.

I ended up fixing my lower back pain permanently – by using this guide, and then this one.

But any time I went back to sitting for prolonged periods of time, I had to be incredibly careful because it would start aching again.

And that’s when I decided to test something weird out.

Sitting is Killing You (And Your Back)

Those who sit more than four hours a day, have a 50% increase risk of dying from any cause, and a 125% increased risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular events.

Sitting also increases blood pressure and negatively affects the heart.

And one of the biggest studies of over 100,000 people found that people who sat over six hours a day had a 40% increased risk of dying in the next 15 years than those who sat less than four hours per day.

As much as dying really sucks, what I want to focus on here is sitting and fixing your back pain.

So after sitting in pain for ten hours a day, I became curious: is sitting really the cause and origin of back pain for so many of us? In other words, are there people who sit all day without back pain? And if so, how?

Will a Standing Desk Fix My Back Pain?

Is sitting really what’s causing your back pain?


Let me give you an example.

On average, I sit close to 10 hours a day at work.

I also know someone else who has been sitting just as much – every day – except for 40 years – who has no back pain whatsoever.  That person is my mom.

After I noticed this, I began informally spying on people (friends and family) while they sat, and then asking them if they had any neck or back pain.

And an interesting, and not-so-surprising connection emerged:

People who had back and neck pain had the worst sitting position and posture, and even if they sat shorter hours, they were in more pain.

And it makes sense, right?

Check out my article on how to fix your neck and shoulder pain.

In the images of the kid below, which one do you think led to more back and neck pain? Obvious, right?

standing desk for back pain

My point is that sitting is not what’s giving you back pain. Sitting improperly is what’s giving you back pain.

But, I’ve found that by using a standing desk, if can sometimes fix back pain by naturally improving your alignment.

So here’s my own experience with using a standing desk for my back pain.

My Experiment With a Standing Desk

standing desk for back pain

Since I wasn’t sure whether or not a standing desk was going to help me, I did an inexpensive experiment.

The picture above is my expert standing desk at work ;).

Right now – half of my days at work are spent sitting, and the other half are spent in sheer awesomeness standing. So has it helped my back?

Here’s what I found:

What I liked:

  • Much higher levels of alertness
  • More productive
  • Easier to keep proper posture

What I didn’t like:

  • Tired knees
  • Achey lower back (upper back didn’t hurt though – which is my main issue)
  • If you get too tired (e.g. after 6 hours straight) it can drain your mental energy because you’re getting fatigued

The biggest thing for me was the energy boost I got from standing.

Meditators have known for thousands of years that posture = alertness. If you lay down on a couch, it’s easy to get tired and sleepy.

If you stand, it’s not.

My big problem is upper back and neck issues. did it help for that? Yes.

But it actually made my lower back pain worse.

…Which is probably because I have really tight hips (lower crossed syndrome) My butt would arch and pelvis would lean forward.

Bad news for lower back pain, like this:

standing desk for back pain

Image via NASM Essentials of Personal Training

Here’s the thing: if you already have an overly-arched lower back (a large portion of 21st century people do), then standing sometimes over-emphasizes that arch.

So when you stand, you’re sometimes putting more pressure on your lower back. When you sit, sometimes you’re hunching so it’s going the other way. Both can lead to pain, depending on your posture and individual situation.

Will it Cure Your Lower Back Pain?

No, not necessarily – but it’s one of those things you have to test out. You won’t know unless you try it out. For me, it fixed my UPPER back pain.

It’s hard to have hunched, slouched shoulders if your computer is eye-level and you’re standing up. Slouching is much more common when you’re sitting down because your spine begins to collapse into that “C” shape.

Try it out. Don’t spend a lot of time assembling something. Just throw your chair on top of your desk for a day and see how you feel.

Try it out for a 30-day challenge to see how it might improve other aspects of your life (sleep, energy, etc.)

Where Can I Get One For My Home/Work?

If you want to invest in one at home (where awkwardly putting a chair on a desk is strange or dangerous with pets/kids) here are some available on Amazon:

Furinno:  The Furinno standing desk is more of a desk stand, so if you have a desk already, and you just want to add extra height, this is what you might want.


Safco. The safco is a full-on standing desk. If you don’t already have a desk where you can put something on top of, you might want to check this one out.


Techni Mobili. The Techni Mobili is a more multi-purpose standing desk.

Or, If You’re Really Awesome Get a Treadmill Desk

standing desk for back painIf you really love what I do, and want to get me a Christmas present, you can pick up one of these for me ;)

In all seriousness, some companies are now utilizing treadmill desks both for the health benefits, as well as the increases in productivity.

Check out the Exerpeutic 2000 or the Lifespan TR1200.

Let Me Know What You Think Below

Have you tried a standing desk?

Do you want to try one?

Has your back been bothering you?

Today, just throw your chair up on top of your desk, stand all day and tell me how it feels at the end of the day.

You might be surprised… or you might not want to ever do it again!


- Alex

Back pain guy via freedigitalphotos.net

Have You Read My New Book Yet?

  Read more about this in my book Master The Day. You’ll learn the nine daily success habits I learned interviewing people that lost 100+ pounds and kept it off in a healthy way – by changing their habits. Plus, you’ll get a free $100 bonus video course if you show me your receipt. You can get the audiobook here too.

14 comments… add one

  1. I have lower back pain from a car accident and do find that standing at work makes a big difference. I use a “Stand Steady” ( http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E0ODMB6 ) which I really like because it sits on top of my current desk and the height is adjustable.

    1. Hey Martin,

      I use something similar myself, or if I’m at work, I just throw my chair on my desk ;)

  2. I found as you did that standing all day is too tiring. I sit on an exercise ball and it works great. When I tried it almost 10 years ago I NEVER thought I’d like it enough to last. But here I still am!

    An interesting study by Dr. Vernikos who worked for NASA found that the ill effects of sitting can largely be counteracted by simply getting up frequently. She says it’s the “little interactions with gravity” that the body needs to stay health. Interesting, no?

    1. Aha! That is pretty interesting Deane. I think we both agree that most modern people live in a seriously motion-starved environment… and just by reintroducing a bit of regular motion it will dramatically reduce the aches and pains we feel throughout the day.

  3. Great article Alex! I had upper back and neck pain that seemed chronic until I started standing up more of the day. I haven’t noticed any lower back pain from standing more, but that will be interesting to keep an eye on. Here is another option for a standing desk converter: http://www.standstand.com
    It’s great because it weighs less than 2 pounds and it folds up to fit in my backpack!

  4. The real secret to a standing desk is to move more – that’s what makes it healthy. That’s why I have a bunch of “toys” for my feet to play with under my desk, and why I ordered the TOPO mat that isn’t flat. It makes you move more and change your posture more, which is genius.

    1. Hey Davey –

      I’ve heard about this TOPO mat – any in particular you’d recommend?

  5. Standing worked for me. I reduced my sitting time at work to 5 hours/day max. i don’t’ sit for the rest of the day at all. my home desk is standing and I can adjust my work desk to stand too. When i watch tv/shows i lay down on my bed which is a fairly firm but a comfortable Matrand from Ikea.

    About me: 7 months of off and on varying pain. 30 years old. MRI showed buldging disc in L5. EMG confirmed a some minor issues too (sometimes i have minor foot drop). At the begining pain went down the legs. but exercies made the pain much less, but i always had the ache that came and went and i beleive i isolated that to sitting.

  6. I had a set standing desk and high chair at my previous job for 2 years. Yes, it was tiring to stand all day, but it was great for my health. I found that I would be more inclined to leave my desk because I was already standing. I also would move around a bit while standing. I think the best thing is to have the both options. Luckily, my new job is buying me a Varidesk which will go up and down and have already bought me an ergonomic chair. The main point of a standing desk is not to relieve back pain, but to improve overall health. If you really want to relieve back pain, exercise and strengthen your core.

  7. I have been standing at my desk workstation for the last 6 months. I do hop around many times and take breaks in between for lunch and meditation. I dont feel fatigued at the end of the day and it didnt affect my productivity but my knees hurt in the beginning. My posture improved quite a bit and my neck is no longer lurched forward. My back feels straighter and my legs feel stronger. I also dont feel any back pain which I had felt after sitting for long hours. Waiting in a line and standing on the subway are much easier then they were in the past. When I started I was totally paranoid and invested in sneakers and thick mats but now I am comfortable standing for hours on a wood floor.

    1. Haha, what kind of mat did you use Gary?

      1. It is a cheaper polyurethane mat from Stanley…I wanted a thicker and a softer one with a certain amount of firmness.

  8. Hi Alexander
    I can also confirm the standing desk idea is good against back pain. Also as you stated the alertness is a positive factor as well.
    The trick appears to be to keep moving away from the desk and move even while standing. I would also recommend sitting a few minutes per hour to avoid leg pains.

    1. Great points Doc Papadopoulos – totally agree.


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