4

votes

Standing desk, leg muscle and feet soreness.

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 24, 2011 at 3:25 AM

I've made the transition to a standing desk, and now spend almost all my time computing there. The only problem is, that my quads start feeling tight after half an hour or so, and now they are almost constantly sore. My feet tend to hurt also after a while too.

I've got an "anti-fatigue" mat to stand on, and I guess that helps my feet a little, but my quads being so sore isn't really affected.

I only stand barefoot, I don't lock out my knees, and I'm pretty sure my back is straight. I usually stand for 2 hours at a time, with sometimes a cumulative 6 hours or more a day. I drink a lot of water, which forces me to take small breaks to walk to the bathroom.

Should I just incorporate more stretching breaks, or is something else a problem?

F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on December 06, 2011
at 04:56 PM

I guess I should add that I do yoga everyday for an hour. So maybe that negates some of the potential for soreness. Maybe a good starting point is to optimize your set up with the proper height and distance. Good luck Bristlebeard!

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on December 06, 2011
at 07:44 AM

Standing still bothers me, and I've been doing it for almost a year now. I still like it better than standing, but I always get the urge to step up onto something. This is probably since I'm using a laptop and tend to lean forward to look at the screen. I find doing squats/stretching helps my leg soreness, but after longer sessions (3+ hours) my feet are always sore and I have to sit down for a while.

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on December 06, 2011
at 07:42 AM

I'm using a laptop on my standing desk, so the screen height is definitely not right. I'm waiting until I can buy a monitor to hook up to it and put it at head height.

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on May 26, 2011
at 02:19 AM

And finally after not going barefoot around the house anymore, I do much better in shoes of the likes of Klogs, Born, and some Danskos. What mark says might be fine for some people, but he is clearly no expert on what works for me or what kinds of shoe options I have.

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on May 26, 2011
at 02:18 AM

I've read Mark's stuff, and being 40 years old and very self-aware, I find it disturbing because it purports what is actually the absolute worst for me. Perhaps he's never experienced the joy of well made, flexible shoes or perhaps he's never been in activities in which ankle support (which I use sparingly) is beneficial. Raised heel works for me, and I'm not talking about pumps. I need at least 1/2" or more lift in order to not get shooting pains through my arches, and there are many quality footwear options that don't restrict ankle mobility in any way shape or form.

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on May 25, 2011
at 12:20 AM

PS. I'll start doing those Mobility WODs.

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on May 24, 2011
at 01:33 PM

My back seems to be pretty fine with the mat, and I think it actually helped my back. I remember standing at my desk without it was difficult, I always felt I had to keep moving around, which didn't help me be that productive. I'll definitely do the stretching before.

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on May 24, 2011
at 01:24 PM

That's actually one thing I was considering, getting a stool. I've also found that if I can put one leg up one something about knee height, and lean forward, it feels more comfortable. I'm thinking about installing some bars on my desk for just that purpose, because I don't think the shelves can take my body weight.

E6c790e285048d9d09a554e65879693a

(435)

on May 24, 2011
at 06:52 AM

Funny you should mention treadmill desk as I just put a treadmill in my office and today am getting a 1"x12" board to go across the handrails to hold my laptop. Have worked at a standing "desk" for the last couple weeks with great success - no pain - and stand 4 or more hours per day there. Find I do a lot of pacing (ie while reading) and walking (to bathroom, water cooler, speak with colleague when I might have emailed, etc.). Wish you good (better) luck with this. Wish I had some advice about how I'd overcome issues you're dealing with.

5b69a02dadcae753771921d913909215

(1457)

on May 24, 2011
at 04:26 AM

It is always good to experiment with work works for you individually. However, in regards to the raised heel, I don't think making a conscious decision to take steps towards reducing ankle mobility is a good decision if it can be avoided. I will refer to Mark here since this is a paleo site: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-importance-of-wrist-and-ankle-mobility/

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on May 24, 2011
at 04:18 AM

And I just want to reiterate that changing (mostly quality) shoes throughout the day keeps me the most happy and productive.

E7dc4f2e3998906dd3213973a3c10d50

on May 24, 2011
at 03:51 AM

Maybe occasional squats would help too. I'm not sure. I'm interested in other answers to this question, though, because I'm contemplating a standing desk myself.

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on May 24, 2011
at 03:45 AM

I do that, although only when my legs are sore. There's basically a constant mild soreness present, especially in the 'tear-drop' of my quad. I kneel with my shins flat on the floor, and lean back, which really stretches my quads out, and makes them feel better temporarily.

E7dc4f2e3998906dd3213973a3c10d50

on May 24, 2011
at 03:32 AM

Do you ever just do simple quad stretches - like standing on one leg and holding the other heel up against your butt?

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13 Answers

best answer

3
F6ea948ab43dc51d72509c0989e670fe

(1639)

on May 24, 2011
at 06:02 AM

I work as a full-time cashier, so I understand the whole sore legs, feet and other issues.

From my experience, shoes are essential. I know we're supposed to be barefoot and such (for the whole "living naturally thing"), but I have a pair of keens that I swear by. Ugly, but very comfortable when you're stuck in place for 8 hours a day. I can't hack it for 8 hours with minimal shoes. Oh, and watch out for athletic shoes, they're not that great either IMO. I can't imagine the pain that barefoot would be like. Probably a significant adjustment before you can really get there...

The anti-fatigue mat is good, but if you have any back soreness, I'd recommend getting rid of it. Some of my co-workers love them, but others say that it irritates their lower back and legs. Also, you might check out the commercial options. Something a bit more sturdy might be needed.

Stretch! Before, during and after. I'm a fan of Mobility WOD. All of their stuff is good, but the leg ones in the first 10 MWoD's are perfect. I find that a foam roller to hit the IT band is good too. And as weird as these look, they work perfectly for getting over sore feet. I do at least 2-3 sessions a week and I'm pain free for the rest of the time. I saw that you mentioned you stretched only after you were sore. I find at that point, I'm beyond the point of easy recovery. It takes 2-3 days of consistent (and brutal) stretching for me to recover, and I HATE loading up on ibuprofen and having to work while wishing I could actually move.

Hope this helps!

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on May 25, 2011
at 12:20 AM

PS. I'll start doing those Mobility WODs.

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on May 24, 2011
at 01:33 PM

My back seems to be pretty fine with the mat, and I think it actually helped my back. I remember standing at my desk without it was difficult, I always felt I had to keep moving around, which didn't help me be that productive. I'll definitely do the stretching before.

5
5b69a02dadcae753771921d913909215

(1457)

on May 24, 2011
at 04:15 AM

I was wondering when this issue was finally going to arise.

Until recently, I have always had jobs that involved lots of standing in basically one place on a hard surface. You are not meant to stand in one place with your legs locked for significant amounts of time anymore than you are meant to sit in a chair for 10+ hours a day.

Now, I have not actually got around to doing this myself yet, but when I move, I plan to build a standing desk and then accompany it with a stool-chair of the appropriate height. This way you can alternate between sitting and standing as you see fit very easily.

Beyond that I guess you could strap a desk to a treadmill or just go live in the woods and stop using a computer...

E6c790e285048d9d09a554e65879693a

(435)

on May 24, 2011
at 06:52 AM

Funny you should mention treadmill desk as I just put a treadmill in my office and today am getting a 1"x12" board to go across the handrails to hold my laptop. Have worked at a standing "desk" for the last couple weeks with great success - no pain - and stand 4 or more hours per day there. Find I do a lot of pacing (ie while reading) and walking (to bathroom, water cooler, speak with colleague when I might have emailed, etc.). Wish you good (better) luck with this. Wish I had some advice about how I'd overcome issues you're dealing with.

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on May 24, 2011
at 01:24 PM

That's actually one thing I was considering, getting a stool. I've also found that if I can put one leg up one something about knee height, and lean forward, it feels more comfortable. I'm thinking about installing some bars on my desk for just that purpose, because I don't think the shelves can take my body weight.

1
F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on December 05, 2011
at 07:05 PM

How long have you had your standing desk?

When I transitioned to a standing desk, my legs & feet killed every night (and all night) for weeks. Then gradually it went away. I did have a week off and when I came back I had a day or two of those pains again though. I also have some small issues if I wear shoes that have too much support or heel. (But I will sneak and stand around in my socks more often than not). I stand on thin office carpet and that doesn't seem to factor in, since 99% of the time the standing part doesn't bother me at all.

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on December 06, 2011
at 07:44 AM

Standing still bothers me, and I've been doing it for almost a year now. I still like it better than standing, but I always get the urge to step up onto something. This is probably since I'm using a laptop and tend to lean forward to look at the screen. I find doing squats/stretching helps my leg soreness, but after longer sessions (3+ hours) my feet are always sore and I have to sit down for a while.

F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on December 06, 2011
at 04:56 PM

I guess I should add that I do yoga everyday for an hour. So maybe that negates some of the potential for soreness. Maybe a good starting point is to optimize your set up with the proper height and distance. Good luck Bristlebeard!

1
724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

on December 05, 2011
at 06:31 PM

Fidgeting helped for me. I generally can't help myself, I'm a natural fidgetter, but I'd notice on days that I wasn't fidgetting as much because I was zonked out concentrating on something, I'd get much more sore. When I'm sitting, I jiggle my legs. The standing desk equivalent of that for me is just shifting my weight constantly from foot to foot and often I'd find myself inadvertently standing on one foot (not entirely sure where my other foot was, but it was often just sort of wandering around under my desk). So maybe consciously trying to do that would help.

The only reason I ended up giving up the desk is that I really didn't have the height right (screen too low, keyboard to high) and ended up straining my neck, but I've got a real standing desk (not the fake one I cobbled together) coming soon (according to my office manager...).

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on December 06, 2011
at 07:42 AM

I'm using a laptop on my standing desk, so the screen height is definitely not right. I'm waiting until I can buy a monitor to hook up to it and put it at head height.

1
032b342bc20e78d74f3954af570c6258

on May 24, 2011
at 02:51 PM

I used to get that as a cashier, on days where I truly couldn't move because we were so busy. On days where I could move around to stock shelves, clean, etc. I felt fine.

I recommend moving frequently. It's quite easy when you're already standing. Move your legs, walk around while thinking, squat down, etc.

1
1471beca8e3adff4ae2f89d10e5f7acb

on May 24, 2011
at 01:08 PM

I bought one of those cheapie small sheepskin rugs from Ikea, and doubled-over it makes an excellent mat for my standing desk while barefoot. Plus, the texture is divine.

Also, nthing the "move around and stretch" comments.

1
Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

on May 24, 2011
at 09:36 AM

I use a standing desk for probably 4-6 hours per day and am standing and moving the rest of the day. Sitting probably takes up <4h per day.

1) I keep a low stool and regular chair nearby. Propping up one foot then the other first on on the stool for a few minutes and next on the chair just to vary positions for my back, legs and ankles. I also will prop one foot, then the other foot up on the counter for a hamstring stretch.

2) Frequently, I move - a quick walk around, a couple a2g squats, quad stretches, forward stretch (just bend over, straight but not locked knees and touch the ground - hold for 30 seconds). Probably every 5 minutes, I move something.

3) muscle fatigue often (to me) means insufficient dietary potassium and magnesium. The rdi for potassium is 3500 mg and almost no one meets it. Few meet mg requirements without supplementation as well.

4) since movement is key, if your space/environment allow, a walking/treadmill desk may be more appropriate than just standing. http://rura.org/blog/2007/11/14/the-treadmill-desk-exercise-for-the-sake-of-hacking/

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 24, 2011
at 05:41 AM

Every hour or so walk around stretch etc. to get the blood flowing just standing isn't ideal jog in place do some high knees jumping jacks etc.ya

0
7afd6e05b0e1578202e35e3d855d4cfa

on May 15, 2014
at 10:49 PM

I had a ton of shoulder pain from my standing desk, until I saw this standing desk calculator. It turns out my keyboard and mouse were WAY too high (a little above elbow height). So much better now it's crazy.

0
87f60ea777b0d9395d5d4ad7ea4be745

on December 05, 2011
at 05:23 PM

Just got my Kangaroo desk and its amazing. Highly recommended.

0
6315c09ec6d56d947ad4daa52f8bf933

on May 25, 2011
at 11:35 AM

If I had the extra cash, I'd pony up and get a kangaroo from ergodesk. You can alternate between standing and sitting with this. Plus you don't need to buy a whole new piece of furniture. http://www.ergodesktop.com/content/kangaroo-0

0
E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on May 24, 2011
at 04:17 AM

I've had all kinds of foot/quads/ankles/calf/etc/whatever problems over the years (and fibromyalgia, and probably sunken arches in my feet and who knows what else) but I've found something that is very beneficial to me is to change shoes, particularly in relation to heel height, throughout the day. It has a dramatic effect on my posture, and I do better with heels elevated/more weight on the ball of my foot, but that's me.

I suggest starting from the foot upwards, and try to determine the most comfortable position for your feet, and then try to find ways to vary that just slightly throughout the day. Many here suggest the heel first stepping, but I now from nearly 40 years of walking that it's the most detrimental to my foot/arch/leg/hip/etc health. Try to figure out whether your comfort zone is based on pressure in the ball and lifting on the arch/heel, or walking more flat-footed or something in between. Once you figure that out, what is right for YOU, then select some quality footware, and if my experience helps, then next try to find a few minor variations on that theme to give your feet their comfort while also some changes.

On a side note, I've known for over 10 years that my feet do best with at least a 2" heel. I've put myself through he!! the last several days working in the (wet, clay, muckety, future) garden in flat boots, which has wreaked havoc on my whole body. If you're not sure what works for you, don't exclude a lifted heel, even 2" or more from your trials. It's hard to find work boots for me without putting in lifts, but it makes a big difference.

Bottom line: we're not all the same, even if we hail from the same genetic lines. My family is all over the place with foot issues, so who knows what our ancestors dealt with.

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on May 24, 2011
at 04:18 AM

And I just want to reiterate that changing (mostly quality) shoes throughout the day keeps me the most happy and productive.

5b69a02dadcae753771921d913909215

(1457)

on May 24, 2011
at 04:26 AM

It is always good to experiment with work works for you individually. However, in regards to the raised heel, I don't think making a conscious decision to take steps towards reducing ankle mobility is a good decision if it can be avoided. I will refer to Mark here since this is a paleo site: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-importance-of-wrist-and-ankle-mobility/

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on May 26, 2011
at 02:19 AM

And finally after not going barefoot around the house anymore, I do much better in shoes of the likes of Klogs, Born, and some Danskos. What mark says might be fine for some people, but he is clearly no expert on what works for me or what kinds of shoe options I have.

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on May 26, 2011
at 02:18 AM

I've read Mark's stuff, and being 40 years old and very self-aware, I find it disturbing because it purports what is actually the absolute worst for me. Perhaps he's never experienced the joy of well made, flexible shoes or perhaps he's never been in activities in which ankle support (which I use sparingly) is beneficial. Raised heel works for me, and I'm not talking about pumps. I need at least 1/2" or more lift in order to not get shooting pains through my arches, and there are many quality footwear options that don't restrict ankle mobility in any way shape or form.

-1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 24, 2011
at 02:41 PM

one thing you can get is a life my friend.

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