Are Standing Desks Bad For Your Knees?

Tyson Sewell | Last updated Aug 4, 2022 | Published on Apr 14, 2022

If you use a standing desk or are thinking about changing to one, you might be worried that standing desks could be bad for your knees. And, to an extent, you’re right to be concerned – if used incorrectly, standing desks could cause knee pain and even exacerbate existing conditions. So are standing desks bad for your knees?

The answer is, not really. Standing for too long can be bad for your knees, but the point of a sit stand desk is that it allows you to do both. Using a standing desk correctly can not only prevent any knee issues, it can actually aid in healing and relieving pain from pre-existing knee conditions.

Are standing desks bad for your knees

Read on to find out how the length of time you stand, how often you move, your standing position, your shoes and maintaining good posture can all help to aid and prevent knee pain.

Is A Standing Desk Good For Your Knees?

A standing desk can be good for your knees. We all know the benefits of assuming a standing position to work for part of the day.

Using a standing desk helps users to stay active during the working day, which speeds the metabolism and helps offset the negative effects of our more sedentary modern lifestyles.

One of the main concerns we hear from people who sit all day is stiffness in the joints, especially the knees. Varying your position during the day keeps your joints moving and helps stretch and strengthen the supporting muscles, and if used correctly can help relieve pain associated with stiff joints.

To get the real benefit from your standing desk, however, you need to know how to use it effectively. Standing for too long could mean you will experience knee pain, and wearing uncomfortable shoes will only make matters worse.

Changing your position frequently, and aiming to spend 15-30 minutes of each hour standing, should allow you to gain the maximum benefit whilst not stressing your joints too much. Choosing your footwear wisely will also help, and an anti-fatigue mat can help absorb your weight and relieve the pressure too.

Standing desks make a difference at your workplace

Is Standing Better Than Sitting For Knee Pain?

Standing is better than sitting for knee pain, but standing all of the time is not the same as varying your position through the day to keep your joints and muscles active. Depending on the nature of your injury, sitting all day could cause you knee to lock or seize, which can be very painful – and very bad for your knees.

Standing desks allow you to change position when you feel you need to, so even if you don’t feel comfortable having weight on your knee too often, you can still choose to when you feel it will be beneficial – without stopping work.

Standing periodically through the day will also strengthen the core and postural muscles, which help support your body. Although this might not seem like a direct benefit to your knees, poor posture contributes greatly to joint pain, as our bodies redistribute strain to compensate.

Can Standing Desks Be Bad For You?

Standing desks can be bad for you, yes, if used incorrectly or too much. Just like manual and factory workers who have to stand for extended periods, overuse of a standing position at work can have some serious downsides, not least for the lower limbs.

Standing for long periods can of course cause knee pain, foot pain, and even pooling of the blood in extreme cases. But the whole point of a sit stand desk is that it allows you to change whenever you like. If you feel like your legs and knees are becoming tired, you can lower the desk and have a rest. Alternately, if you’re sitting and your legs are feeling stiff … well, you can guess the rest.

What’s important to take from this is that no one is or ever was suggesting you should stand all day at your desk. Everyone needs to find their balance, but if you tend to suffer from knee pain then you can lower your standing time. Just remember to change frequently and get away from the desk and walk around occasionally, and listen to your body (and knees)!

Gaming setup at home with a sit stand desk

Is Standing Too Much Bad For Knees?

Standing too much could be bad for your knees, but exactly the same can be said for sitting too much. Just like the rest of our body, our knees need some movement during the day to remain limber. Strengthening the muscles around the knee and the leg in general, as well as the core and postural groups, also helps support the knee and makes injury less likely.

Standing for some of the day then is necessary to keep your knees free of pain, but standing too much is only going to make things worse. And, as important as it is to take the weight off of our legs for some of the day, sitting all day is probably no better than standing all day. The most important thing is to never spend to long in the same position.

Tips On Avoiding Knee Pain With Standing Desks

There is no reason why, if used correctly, a standing desk should cause you any knee pain. By following these tips you should be able to keep your knees healthy and pain free whilst enjoying all of the health benefits associated with a less sedentary lifestyle.

Office staff taking a coffe break with office mates

Use your Standing Desk Correctly

There are a few principles to keep in mind when to get the best from your standing desk, which will help you get the best all round benefit from your desk, as well as helping avoid knee pain.

It is very important to maintain the proper posture at your desk, and a big part of this is getting your standing height correct. You should be able to stand at your desk, hang your arms by your side, bend them at right angles and find them level (or just above) your keyboard. Adjust your desks height if it doesn’t align as described.

To save you having to set this up everytime, choose a desk that allows you to save preset positions: which will allow you to move at the press of a button, and make you much more likely to change position regularly (more on that later).

You should also aim to have your monitor set to a height so your eyes are roughly level with the top of the monitor. This will help prevent neck pain, and promote good posture.

Vary Your Position Frequently

Changing your position regularly during the workday will help keep your joints limber – as well as promoting blood flow, speeding the metabolism and helping you burn calories.

Try and spend at least 15 mins of each hour standing, but don’t stand for longer than 30 mins at a time. Any longer than this could fatigue the muscles in your legs, and place undue strain on your hips, knees and ankles.

You need to learn to listen to your body, and change your position when you feel tiredness setting in. The same is true when sitting – if you feel your knee or any other joint stiffening, it’s a good time to stand up, or get away from your desk and get the blood pumping properly.

Man on his office table taking a break from long hours of work

Go For A Walk

One of the best ways of releiving knee pain is to make sure you find time in the day to go for a walk, short or long. This will help you keep limber, get the blood pumping, and also doubles as a much needed screen break to rest your eyes.

It helps to build short walks into your routine, and then to be disciplined about making sure you take your scheduled breaks. It’s all too easy to get stuck to your screen, but getting away will have much more benefit in the short and the long term.

Wear The Right Footwear

This might seem obvious, but it’s very important to wear comfortable shoes if you’re going to stand for part of the day. This might mean bringing in specific shoes for the purpose, but it’s definitely better than trying to work in your leather shoes all day – especially for you knees.

Choose shoes which cushion your feet, ankles and knees, to relieve the strain on the joints and keep you pain free.

Use The Right Accessories

There are a few accessories which are great for knee pain, and can help cushion your feet and take the strain off of your joints. Incorporating an anti fatigue mat into your set up will increase your comfort levels, but also help promote blood flow in your feet and take some of the strain off of your joints.

Exercise balls can be used to relieve strain on the knees whilst strengthening the core and legs. Or for some, a kneeling chair might help to strengthen the hips and back and relieve the strain on the knees.

Desk home setup with foot massager

Stretch And Exercise At Your Desk

There are numerous stretches and exercises you can perform at your standing desk to help relieve pain and strengthen your legs. Although we don’t have time to list them all here, a little research will show that there are many ways you can incorporate stretching and subtle exercise into your working day – especially with the use of accessories like a balance board or exercise ball.

Go To The Doctor

As everyone’s bodies and knees are different, there’s often no one size fits all solution to knee pain. If you suspect there’s an underlying problem, you shouldn’t hesitate to seek professional help. A trained medical professional will be able to identify any issues and advise what will be the best course of action for you.

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About The Author

Tyson Sewell

Tyson Sewell

I’m Tyson and I design furniture. More specifically, I design ergonomic furniture intended to improve the comfort and aesthetics of sit stand desks, ergonomic chairs and accessories.
You may learn more about my story by reading my bio here. Have a productive day!