Standing Desk Diary: My Feet!

A photo of the Surly LHT, just because.
A photo of the Surly LHT, just because.

It’s been one month since I started using a standing desk at my j-o-b. While I’m definitely settling in, I’m still surprised sometimes when I walk around the corner in the morning. Oh right, I work at a standing desk all day.

Overall, the adjustment process continues and I am happy to report that it is mostly positive. I have read all of the comments people made on my original post closely, and modified my setup and routine based on them.

Standing desk
Standing desk

Weeks 3: March 3-9

  • Reading about alignment. Thanks to the comments, I purchased Every Woman’s Guide to Foot Pain Relief: The New Science of Healthy Feet, by Katy Bowman and eagerly read it. It’s really helping me figure out a healthy standing position and the perils of wearing a positive heel.
  • No heels allowed. I ditched the heels completely and have not worn them since the beginning of March. I first stopped wearing heels because of the pressure on the front half of my feet and then I completely lost my appetite for wearing them after reading Katy Bowman’s book, in which she succinctly writes about the long-term health problems that can arise as a result of regular wear of shoes with a positive heel. I purchased a pair of Sanita clogs, and found them to be pretty comfortable for standing and walking around the office.
  • Upper back stiffness. Discomfort nagged occasionally at my shoulders and neck muscles, but I continue to tweak the angle of my monitors so that I look straight on at them.
  • Sitting on my desk. I completely cheated and sat on a corner of my desk one day to read whatever was up on my monitor. I was tired, it was late in the day toward the end of the week, and I did not feel like sitting down away from the computer. I don’t want to make that a habit.
  • Alignment. The Katy Bowman book has opened my eyes to alignment of the body and feet. I regularly look down at my legs and feet to see how I’m standing. I am trying to stand evenly and not place my weight one side or the other for extended periods of time. I try to stand with good posture with body weight evenly distributed.
  • Tight calves. I don’t know why, but my calves felt tight this week. I don’t know if that is from standing in shoes without a heel or from running or what. Any ideas?
  • Foot pain lessening. The first weeks of my standing desk, pain would radiate from the balls of my feet in the afternoon. I also had occasional twinges from my right ankle. The combination of ditching the heels, wearing better shoes, and taking sitting breaks whenever I feel like I need to seems to make a difference, and I am standing without foot discomfort.
  • Standing desk field trip. This week someone in my office passed by and saw my standing desk. He uses one, too, and showed me some of the various facets of his setup. His desk is wider than mine and in addition to a monitor and keyboard, he also does paperwork while standing. I still prefer to read or scribble while sitting, as it provides a welcome break from the standing routine.
Kevin's DIY standing desk
Kevin’s DIY standing desk

Week 4: March 10-15

  • Brevets and standing desks, how do they mix? Over the weekend, Felkerino and I rode a 200K. Monday I returned to my standing desk setup and my legs and body felt fine. I was relieved about that, as I’d like to continue standing as the brevets continue and get longer. We’ll see.
  • Stretching stretching stretching. My monitor setup seems to be pretty good now. I’m not craning or twisting my neck anymore. I’m taking stretching breaks, both for my shoulders and for my lower back. I have never liked stretching much, but now I’m getting into it!
  • Standing mat ordered. Based on comments, I researched standing mats and ordered one. It has yet to arrive, but I’ll let you know when I start using it.
  • Obsessed with my feet. Thanks to those who recommended the Katy Bowman book, I’m now preoccupied (in a good way!) with my feet. Sitting at a desk with my legs and feet out of view seemed to follow the “out of sight, out of mind” cliché. Standing really increases my awareness of my legs in a weird way. Has anyone else experienced this???
  • Minimalist shoes. I now spend part of my day in minimalist shoes. I own a few pair of Merrell minimalist shoes and one pair of Vivobarefoot slippers. I use them for walking and some weight workouts. Based on Katy Bowman’s book (have I mentioned this book enough yet?) I decided to try using them for a few hours at my standing desk. They’re great, although my vanity is suffering a little from this no heel business.
  • More movement. Maybe I mentioned this previously, but I am more active throughout the day with my standing desk. Instead of procrastinating little trips around the office, I do them whenever I think of them. It’s remarkable how much inertia took over when I sat all day. I would just sit and sit and try to combine all my walking tasks into quick bursts before I went to lunch or something. None of that at my current setup. I continue to have more energy throughout the day.
  • Sitting when I want. I regularly take short sitting breaks and, when I’m ready or need to resume work at the computer, I do it. The shift from standing to sitting throughout the day is taking on a natural feel, although I definitely spend over half my day on my feet.
  • Standing desk discussions. People still pass by, see my desk, pause, and ask me about the desk itself as well as how my setup is working out. One of my running buddies set up his own DIY standing desk after a couple of runs where I expounded on my new office lifestyle. (His is the second standing desk photo in the post.) I was quite impressed by his creativity. The setup for the mouse is my favorite.

Overall, I’m still giving the standing desk a thumbs up. As I said earlier, I’m curious how the standing desk will work as we head into the brevet season and what is generally a more active time. It’s still novel, but given that I spent most of my school and work life sitting, it could be a long time before I tire of it.

As always, I’m eager for feedback so let me know of other stuff I may want to be thinking about. I’m also curious about people’s experiences using minimalist shoes while at a standing desk so please fill me in if you can…

19 thoughts on “Standing Desk Diary: My Feet!”

  1. so glad to read this post.
    another nurse supervisor and i were discussing switching to standing desks in our 4-person office.
    i’m going to study more about it.

    don’t worry about the vanity.
    you are so beautiful inside, you don’t need heels to make you feel otherwise. [~wink]

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  2. Just my opinion but heels seem to have been designed by a sadistic bastard. Oh sure your calves look good but there is not way to wear them that does not hurt. I think the decision to ditch them will make a big difference. One observation from your postings. You seem to feel that the standing desk is an all or nothing. I would suggest if you feel tired grab a corner of the desk or borrow an unused chair for a bit or like they do here get one of those big blow up beach balls to sit on. I cant have one cause I would be bounce riding it all over the office.

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    1. You are right that I started out thinking it was all standing or nothing. That is slowly changing and I feel no shame sitting and taking breaks throughout the day. It just feels strange to actually sit on the desk; maybe because most parents discourage their children from sitting on kitchen counters :).

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  3. When I mentioned your set up to my husband he said, “oh yeah, we have one in our office too.” Apparently there is one standing desk and each employee signs up for an hour a day to use it. It’s always booked.

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  4. This idea of the standing desk is interesting to me. I am a bicycle mechanic and regularly spend 8+ hours a day standing, and moving around a work stand. All of the computers at our shop are set up to be stood at while working. Also as a randonneur, I can say that the standing doesn’t have to be an issue as long as the stretching is happening and your shoes are in good shape. The standing mat will also make a world of difference. By the by, this is the Matt that was with the Kurt on the Wilderness 200k. It was nice meeting you and look forward to riding with you again.

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    1. Hey! Great to hear from you, and Ed and I enjoyed talking with you and Kurt on the ride! Glad to know that being on your feet during the workday has not presented issues for you on brevets.

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  5. I’m an avid cyclist (Trans Iowa veteran-avid) and have been using a sit-to-stand desk for just over two years. Talked my employer into it initially to help address an SI joint dysfunction, but ended up touching off an office-wide tsunami of standing workstation adoption.

    If you’re really going to get into standing over the long term, I’d recommend a sit-to-stand station like a Kangaroo.* Even though they’re more expensive, it’s good to sit down for a couple hours a day. I usually stand for most of the morning, sit down a little while before lunch and stand again for most of the afternoon. Occasionally I’ll either stand or sit all day, but that’s definitely the exception.

    Standing really helped me address my SI joint problem, but post-century-ride legs and a little plantar fasciitis have alternately made it clear that one can have too much of a good thing.

    (*the Kangaroo is a commercial product from ergodesktop.com)

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    1. I’m also standing most of the morning, and then interspersing sitting and standing more throughout the afternoon. Interesting you mention that about plantar fascitis because that is an issue for me, too.

      ALSO, I’m off to read your Trans-Iowa story… congratulations on riding it! Definitely sounds like a challenging event, particularly given the time of year when it is held.

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  6. I am about half and half standing and sitting although I only have a sitting desk but spend half my time at the retail counter.
    Plantar Fasciitis is a monster. After my second bout of it…ended my running days

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  7. I stand most of the day wearing my office shoes, Vivobarefoot chukkas. They’re identical to my everyday chukkas, and very similar to my weekend hiking shoes (also Vivos), running/walking shoes (Merrel Vapor Gloves) and sandals (Luna Monos, made in Seattle). Are you seeing a pattern here?

    I’ll post some pics and possibly a review of my new standing set up once it arrives, my boss OK’d me ordering a Varidesk Pro!

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    1. Yes, I’d like to read your review… I had never tried Vivos until I recently purchased this pair. I am really impressed by how comfortable they are. I do like my Merrells, too, but only one pair I own can remotely qualify as business casual.

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  8. I’m workiing towards getting a standing desk, so I can’t comment on that exactly, but I have been doing the minimalist shoes for 4-5 years now. Started off jumping into the deep end with Vibram FiveFingers. Worked great, even wore ‘em to the office (i’m in IT, they were ‘acceptable’ and ‘understood’). Different job position required something a little more ‘sturdy’, so went with the Merrel Glove shoes, love those too.

    Recently I’ve been wanting something even more basic. I have found my new love at Soft Star Shoes (http://www.softstarshoes.com). Handmade, all leather, extremely minimal sole if you want it, or something with a little cush. As comfy as slippers (or can be slippers, if you get the moccasins, which I’ll also be wearing to the office) and look relatively ‘normal’.

    I always enjoyed wearing my FiveFingers to the office, felt like I was getting away with something. Now, with my RunAmocs from SoftStar, I _really_ feel like I’m getting away with something. So comfy, feels like i’m close to being barefoot, yet looks like a reasonable shoe. Definitely highly recommended.

    And while not at a standing desk, I do end up standing for ~2hrs a day when I’m on the phone, but don’t need to be at the computer. The Soft Stars have taken some getting used to, even from my Merrells, but doing great with them.

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    1. I did not know of Soft Star. I will check them out. FiveFingers are not for me, but I am starting to see the benefits of minimalist shoes in the office. I do not use minimalist shoes for running at all b/c my feet aren’t acclimated to it and I run mostly on pavement. If you do end up w/ a standing desk I would be interested in reading about your experience adjusting to it. I’m learning so much from others.

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      1. Definitely check out Soft Star, they’re at the top of my list for if/when my Vivo’s wear out. If you do think about transitioning to running more minimalist (recommended highly!), just remember to take it SUPER SLOW. It’s a completely different footstrike and will work a whole new set of muscles.

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