Are Standing Desks Really Better for Your Back?
Kanebridge News
Share Button

Are Standing Desks Really Better for Your Back?

Those prone to pain might get more relief if they invest in these accessories—from anti-fatigue mats to a posture monitor.

By Sal Vaglica
Thu, Feb 10, 2022 3:38pmGrey Clock 3 min

Doctors, no fans of sedentary lifestyles, rarely encourage anyone—especially those with back pain—to spend all day sitting. A standing desk can help avert aching muscles if you use it correctly, get off your feet and move at regular intervals and—here’s where we come in—consider investing in the right ergonomic accessories. If you insist on slouching in high heels on a concrete floor for hours, we can’t help you.

A standing desk alone is a good start. In 2019, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh examined data from 53 independent, peer-reviewed studies and concluded that workers can experience a decrease in lower-back pain when using a standing desk. A year earlier, Dr. Elizabeth Garland, professor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, and her team published the results of a yearlong evaluation of users at standing and traditional desks. “The people who used the standing desk more had less back pain, more energy and took on more physical activity outside of work,” she said.

Jonathan Perez, a territory manager for a sporting goods supplier in Port St. Lucie, Fla., went further. Mr. Perez has mild scoliosis and bought a standing desk hoping it would help. Two years on, the pain persists, but a new routine has made it far more tolerable. “I bought an anti-fatigue mat, got my foot scanned at a running store to get sized for shoes and consulted a yoga instructor about core stretches,” he said. Those moves, along with a commitment to alternating between standing, sitting and using a foam roller on the floor to massage his back, have brought relief.

Lauren Scott, a digital marketing coordinator in Hawthorne, N.J., said using a standing desk consistently for five years eventually helped resolve sciatica pain. But when she stands, Ms. Scott doesn’t merely stay erect. A barefoot enthusiast, she plants her feet on a foam mat for comfort and uses a lacrosse ball and knobby rock mat to stretch them.

Without an ergonomic plan, standing can become uncomfortable, making it easy to default back to a chair. Some basic tips: Keep the desk’s top at elbow height so your fingers hang down to meet the keyboard. Stand straight so your neck is tall and shoulders are relaxed. Elevate the monitor so the top third of the screen is at eye level and close enough that you needn’t lean forward to read. As for how to split up your day, Dr. Garland likes the “20-8-2 rule” where you break 30-minute blocks up into 20 minutes for sitting, 8 for standing and 2 for walking.

But if you really want to ensure you’re standing up to back pain, consider these accessories.

Five Accessories That Can Take a Desk From Helpful to Really Helpful

Stand On Solid Principles

An anti-fatigue mat will take the sting out of standing on hard surfaces like concrete, hardwood and tile. While most mats look like the slabs of rubber or polyurethane foam that line cooks use, the Fluidstance Springboard looks at home in an office. The flexible plywood top, along with a 1-inch-thick felt base, provides enough cushion and bounce to reduce fatigue and encourage you to shift weight. $235,

Mind the Slouch

If reminding yourself not to slouch feels like a full-time job, let the Upright Go S do it for you. Stick the tracker to the skin between your shoulder blades, or drape it over a shirt using the Necklace accessory ($20). When it detects hunching, a gentle vibration prompts you to straighten up. To avoid falling into that “evil-witch position,” consider an elevated monitor, said Dr. Charla R. Fischer, an orthopedic surgeon at NYU Langone Spine Center. $

Bare Your Tensions

A mat alternative: The sloped Sky Solutions Genius Mat can massage and stretch bare feet, thanks to a rollerball and acupressure-like nubs. “What we’re learning is the more time we can spend out of shoes the better,” said Dr. Brian Meenan, a chiropractor in Pittsburgh, of foot muscles that can go underdeveloped in shoes. If you go this route, gradually work up to spending about half your day sans shoes. $111,

Look Up

You could pile books under a monitor to elevate it, or use the highly adjustable Uplift Desk Enfield Single Monitor Arm and reclaim desk space. The arm clamps to, or bolts through, the desktop, neatly corralling wires, and lets you tweak the screen’s position as you go from sitting to standing. (Laptop users need an arm designed to lift the computer to eye level, and should pair it with a wireless keyboard and mouse.) $165,

Invest in Smarter Sneakers

The best footwear for standing-desk adoptees is a sneaker that provides more cushion and support than a minimalist running shoe but not as much as a plush walking sneaker. Chiropractor Dr. Alex Tauberg, also based in Pittsburgh, often recommends a trail hiking or trail running shoe. “They have an athletic styling, a decent amount of cushion, and they’re supportive,” he said. The Altra Superior 5 is a “zero drop” shoe — the foot rests flat on the ground without the lifted heel — with a wide toe box that allows your dogs to splay out without bunching.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: February 9, 2022.


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

Related Stories
China’s EV Juggernaut Is a Warning for the West
By GREG IP 08/06/2023
How Hackers Can Up Their Game by Using ChatGPT
By Cheryl Winokur Munk 08/06/2023
World Bank Brightens View of Global Growth This Year, Downgrades 2024
By YUKA HAYASHI 07/06/2023
China’s EV Juggernaut Is a Warning for the West

Competitive pressure and creativity have made Chinese-designed and -built electric cars formidable competitors

Thu, Jun 8, 2023 4 min

China rocked the auto world twice this year. First, its electric vehicles stunned Western rivals at the Shanghai auto show with their quality, features and price. Then came reports that in the first quarter of 2023 it dethroned Japan as the world’s largest auto exporter.

How is China in contention to lead the world’s most lucrative and prestigious consumer goods market, one long dominated by American, European, Japanese and South Korean nameplates? The answer is a unique combination of industrial policy, protectionism and homegrown competitive dynamism. Western policy makers and business leaders are better prepared for the first two than the third.

Start with industrial policy—the use of government resources to help favoured sectors. China has practiced industrial policy for decades. While it’s finding increased favour even in the U.S., the concept remains controversial. Governments have a poor record of identifying winning technologies and often end up subsidising inferior and wasteful capacity, including in China.

But in the case of EVs, Chinese industrial policy had a couple of things going for it. First, governments around the world saw climate change as an enduring threat that would require decade-long interventions to transition away from fossil fuels. China bet correctly that in transportation, the transition would favour electric vehicles.

In 2009, China started handing out generous subsidies to buyers of EVs. Public procurement of taxis and buses was targeted to electric vehicles, rechargers were subsidised, and provincial governments stumped up capital for lithium mining and refining for EV batteries. In 2020 NIO, at the time an aspiring challenger to Tesla, avoided bankruptcy thanks to a government-led bailout.

While industrial policy guaranteed a demand for EVs, protectionism ensured those EVs would be made in China, by Chinese companies. To qualify for subsidies, cars had to be domestically made, although foreign brands did qualify. They also had to have batteries made by Chinese companies, giving Chinese national champions like Contemporary Amperex Technology and BYD an advantage over then-market leaders from Japan and South Korea.

To sell in China, foreign automakers had to abide by conditions intended to upgrade the local industry’s skills. State-owned Guangzhou Automobile Group developed the manufacturing know-how necessary to become a player in EVs thanks to joint ventures with Toyota and Honda, said Gregor Sebastian, an analyst at Germany’s Mercator Institute for China Studies.

Despite all that government support, sales of EVs remained weak until 2019, when China let Tesla open a wholly owned factory in Shanghai. “It took this catalyst…to boost interest and increase the level of competitiveness of the local Chinese makers,” said Tu Le, managing director of Sino Auto Insights, a research service specialising in the Chinese auto industry.

Back in 2011 Pony Ma, the founder of Tencent, explained what set Chinese capitalism apart from its American counterpart. “In America, when you bring an idea to market you usually have several months before competition pops up, allowing you to capture significant market share,” he said, according to Fast Company, a technology magazine. “In China, you can have hundreds of competitors within the first hours of going live. Ideas are not important in China—execution is.”

Thanks to that competition and focus on execution, the EV industry went from a niche industrial-policy project to a sprawling ecosystem of predominantly private companies. Much of this happened below the Western radar while China was cut off from the world because of Covid-19 restrictions.

When Western auto executives flew in for April’s Shanghai auto show, “they saw a sea of green plates, a sea of Chinese brands,” said Le, referring to the green license plates assigned to clean-energy vehicles in China. “They hear the sounds of the door closing, sit inside and look at the quality of the materials, the fabric or the plastic on the console, that’s the other holy s— moment—they’ve caught up to us.”

Manufacturers of gasoline cars are product-oriented, whereas EV manufacturers, like tech companies, are user-oriented, Le said. Chinese EVs feature at least two, often three, display screens, one suitable for watching movies from the back seat, multiple lidars (laser-based sensors) for driver assistance, and even a microphone for karaoke (quickly copied by Tesla). Meanwhile, Chinese suppliers such as CATL have gone from laggard to leader.

Chinese dominance of EVs isn’t preordained. The low barriers to entry exploited by Chinese brands also open the door to future non-Chinese competitors. Nor does China’s success in EVs necessarily translate to other sectors where industrial policy matters less and creativity, privacy and deeply woven technological capability—such as software, cloud computing and semiconductors—matter more.

Still, the threat to Western auto market share posed by Chinese EVs is one for which Western policy makers have no obvious answer. “You can shut off your own market and to a certain extent that will shield production for your domestic needs,” said Sebastian. “The question really is, what are you going to do for the global south, countries that are still very happily trading with China?”

Western companies themselves are likely to respond by deepening their presence in China—not to sell cars, but for proximity to the most sophisticated customers and suppliers. Jörg Wuttke, the past president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, calls China a “fitness centre.” Even as conditions there become steadily more difficult, Western multinationals “have to be there. It keeps you fit.”


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop