Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My standing desk experiment

My back is not… perfect, shall I say.

That is a true sign of a good IT professional (false modesty aside) — I've spent years sitting behind a trusty desk — studying, developing, designing, testing, supporting, communicating (ahem, sometimes playing). So my back pain is a huge advantage! It still hurts, though.

I've been reading articles on people moving to a standing stance while working, and, while that sounds bizarre, it actually makes sense. I do my best to sit straight, but as I get engrossed with the exciting practicalities of my job, I gradually slide off the chair, slumping more and more. It doesn't feel good, and, I believe, is very damaging in the long run.

So, it was a dream of mine for some time to actually try it. I was held back by the practical side of it — how do I actually raise my desk, without it costing too much. Also, there was a psychological factor — won't I look stupid, standing all day?

I still don't know the answer to that last question, to be honest.

Yet I did, with the help of a good friend, raise my desk on 16 bricks last week (so the table height has increased by 4 brick-thicks), and I am standing since. This is how it looks now:

Not very elegant, but does the job!

One important addition that I needed was a small mat, it is too hard on the feet to stand all day. Otherwise — it works! I don't feel any discomfort from standing, back feels good, legs don't ache (apart from the muscles I strained while moving lots snow around on Saturday). So far I took only one daily conscious break from standing, to have a cup of tea on the sofa in the rest area. 

For those concerned with psychological matters — it took my colleagues about 4 days to get used to me (I measured it by the declining temporal density of jokes about me). Not too bad, eh?

One peculiar side effect is that I tend to waste less time while standing. And no, this is not because I hurt all over — just that standing, somehow, keeps me more active-minded and motivated throughout the day (even after lunch!).

You'll see from the photo that it is a temporary setup — I didn't want to make any permanent changes before I ascertained that I can survive such harsh conditions (like I said, it sounds bizarre). But I think I've experimented enough to confirm that I can order two custom desk extension stands (and, if they cost too much, I can convince myself I like bricks).

I have a long-standing relationship with my desk, just that it was a sitting relationship. The time has come for that to change. May be that'll inspire some of you to try something good for your health. If you have any questions — let me know in the comments.

Take care! (…of your spine)

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