What Happens If Your Standing Desk Is Too High?

You might not know it but your body might be telling you that your standing desk is too high. In this article, we cover the tell-tale signs of a desktop being too far elevated, what the repercussions are, and how to correct it.

Key Takeaways:

  • The common signs that your height-adjustable desk is too high include not being able to reach its rear, looking up to the monitor, and body discomfort and aches.
  • For single sit-stand desk users, poor posture and swapping between different footwear are the two primary reasons why the desk height is too high.
  • Starting with an ergonomic office chair, there are many accessories that can be used to remedy a standing desk that is too high, including monitor arms and anti-fatigue mats.

The Consequences Of A Desk That Is Too High

A standing desk that is too high can result in bad posture, which can strain the neck, shoulders, and wrists and possibly even result in injuries. Additionally, when discomfort and strain divert attention from work, it makes the experience far less comfortable and enjoyable resulting in tiredness and lost productivity. For these problems to be avoided, proper desk ergonomics are essential when you are setting the ideal height for your standing desk.

Four Signs Your Desk Is Too High

Having your standing desk situated at too great of a height can lead to various discomforts and health issues over time. Some of the signs are obvious, however, some need a lot more attention.

Sign 1 – You can’t reach the rear of your desk

If you can’t reach the rear of your desk because it’s too high, then you are reducing the functionality and how your standing desk works, leading to a loss in productivity. Most adjustable-height desks are between 70cm to 75cm deep and this is intended by design since there is no point making a desk too deep where items are not within easy reach. But if your standing desk is elevated too high (even by a few centimetres), then you have to bend your elbows and make an effort.

Sign 2 – Feeling tired

Working at a desk that is too high might also make you tired since you have to use more energy to maintain an uncomfortable position, which might lower your productivity since more breaks will be needed to re-energise.

Sign 3 – Body discomfort and pain

One of the primary signs that your desk may be too high for your ergonomic comfort is experiencing discomfort or even pain in various parts of your body.

  • Neck and shoulder pain – This can occur when you frequently hunch over to reach your keyboard or monitor, straining these areas of your body. Neck pain is often the first symptom of an incorrect shoulder blade position from poor ergonomics.
  • A desk that’s too high may cause wrist and arm discomfort, as it can force you to angle your wrists awkwardly while typing or using a mouse. This can lead to conditions like wrist pain or carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • A standing desk that is too high will force you to implement poor posture and will put pressure on your lower back. This is because your back muscles are strained when you slouch or lean forward to reach your work surface.
  • If your monitor is positioned too high relative to your eye level, you may have to tilt your head up or down to see the computer screen properly. This can lead to eye strain, discomfort, and even headaches.
  • Leg discomfort can also be a sign of a standing desk being too high. If there’s insufficient clearance for your thighs due to a high desk, it can result in leg discomfort and poor circulation.

Sign 4 – You can’t sit or stand still

If you find yourself frequently shifting in your chair or fidgeting whilst standing then it may be a tell-tale sign that your ergonomic position is not optimal because your desktop is too high. Difficulty focusing on your work is another sign, as discomfort caused by an improperly sized desk can make concentrating challenging, reducing productivity. Frequent stretching is important to stay active at a sit-stand desk but it may be another sign of neck pain.

Why Is Your Desk Too High?

There can be several reasons why your desk is too high, including:

  • Incorrect chair height – A chair that is too low can give the impression that your workstation is excessively high. You can find the right position by adjusting the chair’s height.
  • Poor posture – Having poor posture can sometimes make you feel as though your workstation is excessively high. Your shoulder blades may hunch up if you slouch or lean forward, which will make it more difficult to reach your keyboard and mouse.
  • There are multiple users – If different people are using the same height-adjustable desk then you will obviously find it in different height settings when it’s your turn. Being able to save multiple height presets by programming a digital controller will immediately alleviate this.
  • Your footwear has changed – If you don’t normally wear shoes inside the house but then decide to put some warm boots on then maintaining proper elbow height will be different. This means you will have to accommodate your footwear when adjusting your desk height.
  • Body proportions – Because every individual has a unique body, what one person finds comfortable may not be pleasant for another. For instance, if you are very short, a typical desk could feel overly high. This is especially the case for standing desks that may have multiple users but having a digital controller capable of saving several height presets will alleviate this.
  • Desk riser -Your desk riser or converter may not be set to the proper height for your sitting if you use it to transition between standing and sitting.
  • Didn’t calculate the ideal height – Before setting up your new desk, it’s important to use an ideal standing desk height calculator, or at least, check the manufacturer recommendations on the ideal desk height for ergonomic posture.

How Do You Fix A Standing Desk That Is Too High?

As a general rule, the elevation of your desktop should be changed so that your elbows are naturally resting at an angle between 90 to 100 degrees parallel to it. A chair with adjustable height is a wonderful alternative if you believe your desk is too high for you. To assist with maintaining an appropriate neutral posture, you can also use a footrest.

It may take some time and fiddling, but these are the considerations you need to make to correct an improper desk height.

  • Adjust the height of your ergonomic chair – Ensure your chair is adjusted to the right height so that your legs point to the rear of the desk and feet flat on the floor, whilst having your elbows bent at 90 – 100 degrees.
  • Desk modification – If possible, consider lowering your desk or using a footrest to improve your neutral posture and comfort.
  • Ergonomic assessment – If you’re experiencing body discomfort or pain, it may be beneficial to consult with an ergonomic specialist who can assess your workspace and recommend adjustments or equipment tailored to your needs.
  • Choose the right desk accessories – There are ample standing desk accessories to help you achieve a proper desk height. Using an anti-fatigue mat will elevate your body position. If your desktop height is optimal but your monitor is too high, then consider investing in monitor arms that allow you to change their position at will. of your screen to your desire. Keyboard trays are useful for lowering the elevation of your keyboard compared to your desktop.

Related: Beginners guide to setting up an ergonomic workstation.

How To Find The Ideal Desk Height

A two-step summary of how to find the ideal standing desk height is provided below.

  1. Begin by standing in front of the desk with a natural and neutral back position. Elevate the desk so that your wrists sit straight on the keyboard, and keep doing so until your straight wrists can rest comfortably and directly on the desktop in a natural typing position. The keyboard should be close enough to your body so you do not have to arch your back to reach it. Adjust the desk such that your wrists are naturally supported by a 90 to 100-degree bent elbow angle.
  2. Just as crucial as desk leveling is adjusting the monitor’s height. The top portion of the display can be raised to your eye level using an ergonomic monitor elevation device, like a monitor stand. For the ideal seating position, the monitor’s distance is also crucial. The majority of studies recommend keeping your head 40 to 75 centimetres (or arm’s length) away from the screen.

The same method applies when in a proper sitting position. Keep in mind that a supportive office chair with good lumbar positioning should be used.

To help you determine how elevated your desktop and computer monitor should be, you can use our standing desk height calculator.

The Health Risks Of Using A Standing Desk That Is Too High

Standing desks that are too high can pose several health risks in the short and long term, including:

  • Muscular fatigue -Being in a standing position for extended periods of time while using a desk that is too high can cause muscular fatigue since your body has to work more to support your weight and keep you balanced.
  • Deterioration of reaction time and mental performance: Standing for too long and in the wrong position due to a desk being too high rest can lead to a deterioration of reaction time and mental performance.

The Benefits Of An Ideal Desk Height

Firstly, an ideal standing desk height promotes proper posture. When your desk is correctly positioned in accordance with your body height, it encourages you to maintain a neutral spine alignment while standing. When you have set your sit-stand desk at the correct height, you will immediately find a lack of discomfort in your neck and shoulders.

Secondly, it supports better blood circulation and reduces discomfort. When your standing desk is at the right height, you can stand comfortably for longer periods without experiencing leg or foot discomfort. Proper circulation also helps prevent numbness and tingling sensations in your limbs, especially if you’ve been leaning over to compensate for the extra height.

Additionally, an ideal standing desk height contributes to enhanced productivity since you’re not experiencing any discomfort. Comfortable working conditions allow you to focus better on your tasks, leading to increased efficiency. Discomfort and pain caused by an incorrectly positioned desk can be distracting and negatively impact your work.

Overall, by ensuring your desk is not too high and at the right height, it will be more enjoyable and comfortable during the working day.

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