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posted: 5/26/2014 7:00 AM

What you need to know about working standing up

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  • Rebel Desk, created by a Washington couple, is one of the more affordable options for both the treadmill and desk.

    Rebel Desk, created by a Washington couple, is one of the more affordable options for both the treadmill and desk.
    Rebel Desk

By Vicky Hallet, The Washington Post

Standing up has gone mainstream at work. Here's what you need to know about working on your feet at the office.

How much does it cost on a standing desk?

As standing up has gone mainstream, the price of products has gone down. Still, the fanciest models can cost several thousand dollars, particularly treadmill desks. (Rebel Desk, created by a Washington couple, is one of the more affordable options for both the treadmill and desk.) Buying a unit that sits on top of your regular desk, such as Stand Steady ($190-$300) -- designed by a Vienna, Va., woman after a car accident made sitting painful -- or Varidesk ($275-$350) can be a more economical approach. The cheapest alternative is still constructing your own. There are simple instructions online for the Ikea Lack table hack, and many people have gotten creative by repurposing shoe racks, filing cabinets and office supplies.

What else do I need?

You'll probably want to be able to sit some of the time. So if your desk isn't adjustable, a bar stool or tall chair is a handy addition to the office. Many standing desk users also swear by their cushioned anti-fatigue mats, which can make being on your feet more comfortable. Loretta DiPietro, chairman of the exercise science department at George Washington University, often changes into memory foam flip-flops for the same effect. (And she strongly advises against standing all day in high heels.)

What's considered proper posture?

Ergonomics matter in any office setup. A standing desk that adjusts can make it easier to find the sweet spot that won't cause arm or neck strain. If you still find yourself obsessing over how you're standing, that's a good thing, DiPietro says: "When I sit is when I slouch. I'm much more cognizant of posture because I'm standing." If you find yourself sticking a hip out, resting on your elbows or locking your knees, that's a reminder to move a little bit to get back into a better position. DiPietro recommends using office standing time to improve balance by standing on one leg. She also does knee lifts, squats and push-ups against the edge of her desk, although those moves might not fit into every workplace environment.

Are there dangers associated with standing?

Some studies have shown that excess standing can cause varicose veins or other problems. DiPietro's response is that there are so many other opportunities for sitting built into our daily lives that it's virtually impossible for the average desk worker to stand too much on the job. Certainly, she adds, it's important to listen to your body's cues and not overdo it -- many standing desk devotees say they gradually built more standing time into their schedules. Another key consideration is the sturdiness of your setup. A poorly constructed desk could topple over.

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