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1) Get cushioned.

Standing static on a hard surface is a fast track to discomfort. Wear a cushioned shoe or add cushioning with a rug, exercise mat, or antifatigue mat created especially for people who stand for long periods of time.

2) Adjust desk height.

Many fixed-height standing desks are 40 to 42 inches tall, and there are adjustable solutions that sit on top to give you more leeway in terms of surface height. To find the right height, use this rule of thumb: Standing at your desk, bend your elbows so your forearms are parallel to the floor. The desk should be at elbow height plus one inch. We say should, not must, because you’ve got to see how it feels. If it doesn’t feel good, that’s a sign to adjust up or down.

3) Assume the ideal standing position.

The point of using a standing desk is to move more, so you’re going to automatically assume many different positions during your standing sessions. But during those times you’re standing straight, the best position is this: Stand comfortably with your feet straight and underneath your hips, with 50 percent of your weight on the balls of your feet and 50 percent of your weight on the heels.

4) Support your stance.

If you have the right accessories next to you, your body will naturally figure out how to use them to lighten its load and stay in equilibrium. Placing a barstool — preferably one with a flat seat and squared edges that’s about the height of your inseam — behind you gives you a surface to occasionally perch on, lean back against, or rest your foot on.

The other workstation essential we recommend is a foot support that, by allowing you to prop up one foot, can make it easier to stand comfortably.

5) Train to stand.

We really mean it: You need to train for using a standing workstation like you’d train for a marathon. Just as you wouldn’t go from spending your waking days on the couch to running 26.2 miles, you shouldn’t go from years of sitting to standing eight hours a day. If you do, it’s going to be painful.

6) Take it slow.

Start out with a half hour a day and increase at a pace that feels right.

And remember: You don’t need to stand perfectly still. If you’re itching to move, then move! Sway your hips. March in place. Do some stretches. Let your body be your guide.

Sitting for long periods might be common, but it can undermine your health. Learn more at “The Vital Role Standing — Versus Sitting — Plays in Your Health” from which this article was excerpted.

Kelly Starrett, DPT, and Juliet Starrett

Kelly Starrett, DPT, is a physical therapist and the coauthor of Built to Move, Becoming a Supple Leopard, Ready to Run, and Deskbound. He is also the cofounder of The Ready State, which offers daily guided mobility training and other resources to help athletes stay pain-free. Juliet Starrett is the coauthor of Built to Move and Deskbound, and cofounder and CEO of The Ready State.

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