There’s plenty to love about standing. It reduces your rate of heart disease, lowers you blood sugars and cholesterol and helps with weight loss. Sitting too much raises your risks of death even if you exercise regularly, say the experts. But standing all day is not good for you either. It can compress the spine and lead to lower back problems. It’s the combination of sitting and standing that maximises the health benefits. So, are you following the correct rules when it comes to using your stand-up desk?

Firstly, you should ease yourself into using this type of desk and gradually build up—just like with a new exercise routine. You shouldn’t stand for more than 4 hours a day as it can strain your lower back and cause you to slouch. Try to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. Changing your posture regularly will provide maximum benefits, so you need to find a sitting/standing schedule that works for you. Long duration tasks such as working on a document or spreadsheet are better done sitting whereas short duration ones like checking your emails are happily done from a standing position. Remember your posture changes throughout the day, with a tendency to slouch as the day progresses and you get fatigued. Moving is the key and your osteopath can encourage specific movements tailored to your needs, whether you are sitting or standing—for instance, gently flexing your arms or working your calf muscles by moving your ankles up and down. Your osteopath can also help with techniques in how to go from a sitting position to a standing one, as you will be repeating this movement several times during the day and don’t want to risk an injury. Turn Not Twist is the new motto; in other words, sit, turn and don’t corkscrew in and out of your chair or desk. To get out, push your chair back, turn to clear the desk area and then stand straight. Always leave your desk in a standing position when you finish a task so that you return to a standing position.

There are some other common mistakes people make when using stand-up desks. Obviously, don’t force yourself to stand for too long, especially if you are tired. You must also ensure that your desk is at exactly the right height for you. The top of your screen should be eye level, with a small upward tilt so that you don’t have to move your head up or down when working. Adjust the screen height and angle differently when sitting or standing as people often have different torso or leg lengths. It’s a good idea to get an anti-fatigue matt for your feet, especially if you are prone to lower back pain. The secret to using a standing desk successfully is to change posture regularly. Each time you step away from your desk, try to stand as tall as possible and remember to stretch both morning and night for a few minutes.

 While a standing desk can be tricky to get used to and causes problems if not managed correctly, once you get the hang of it, you will probably become more productive, feel healthier and have more energy!