Kicking the Chair to the Curb

Several weeks ago I broke my tailbone in a bone-headed move.

In an attempt to clean out my garage, I was trying to move my riding lawnmower to the shed out back. No matter how hard I rocked it back and forth, the mower couldn’t get traction on the snow (or planks & cardbord). So I decided it would be worth a shot to lift the back end by hand and force it through the snow like a severely overweighted wheelbarrow.

I planted my hands underneath the rear end, straightened my back like they taught us in weightlifting class back in high school, and lifted. The weight wasn’t so bad. I knew I’d need some rests on the way, but I was sure I could manage the task.

The one thing I didn’t account for was the ice on my driveway (I’m horrible about salting). Four steps into the move and my feet shot out from under me, slamming me on the ground with the lawnmower on top of me.

Needless to say, I belted out some choice words that would rival George Carlin.

Two days later, my doctor confirmed that I had broken my Coccyx and I could either sit on a donut or stand for anywhere between six weeks and a year.

My 30 year old male pride got in the way and I asked for my desk to be raised. Within a couple of hours, OWC’s trusty handyman showed up to raise my desk to standing height.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the decision I had just made.

In my 30 years of life, I have spent about 20 of those years planted in a chair in front of one or several computers. I’m a software architect and a geek by nature, so one could only imagine the number of office chairs I have worn out.

Armed with a slightly newish pair of Adidas running shoes, I started my first day without a chair. Within an hour, my feet, legs & lower back were screaming for a break and I was seriously reconsidering my decision to stand. Five minutes sitting in my old chair to rest reminded me why I was standing, so I toughed it out the rest of the day.

By day two, my feet started hurting just as fast and my back was screaming, but there was a another change. I was practically bouncing with energy. Six years ago, I gave up caffeine (doctor’s orders – I used to drink two six-packs of Jolt Cola every day) so having this much energy was foreign to me. All throughout the day, I was wide awake and concentrating on my work was easier than usual.

By day five, our warehouse operations manager had supplied me with an anti-fatigue mat that made my feet hurt a little less and I found that my appetite had increased while dropping 1.5 pounds of weight.

As a result, I began scouring the internet for more reports of people working at a stand up desk and found that I’m not alone. There seems to be a mini-movement of people moving to the standing desk, citing better attention spans, more energy, more creativity, better health, etc. Check it out:

As of this posting, I am nearing the end of week three. My feet don’t bother me much at all and my back is no longer sore. At this point, I’m convinced I’ve found the holy mecca of work situations. I have more energy, my productivity is up, I can zone in on my work quicker and easier, I’m not dying in pain, and bonus…my pants look better on me! I also have this weird urge to run, which is completely foreign to me.

I am fairly positive that I will never go back to sitting at a desk. The benefits I’m seeing are ridiculous given the simple change that was made. I am excited to see how much weight I drop in total from this change as well as how other aspects of my life are positively affected as well.

If you have any interest in trying out a standing desk, you don’t need to make any major changes to your environment. You can start by propping your monitor, keyboard, and mouse on a pile of books or a sturdy box. Give it an honest try for a solid week and you’ll thank me.


LEAVE A COMMENT

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  • Hey Patrick,

    Still standing nowadays? I’m starting a blog/forum in standing desks at http://standingdeskforum.com and I’m curious if people who try standing are keeping it up after a year or more.

    Cave Dad




    • Still standing, indeed. I’ve recently acquired a drafting table chair for the days when my feet are killing me, but stay standing the majority of the time. I’ll be sure to log into your forum to say hi :)




  • Hi Patrick! I agree that for computer workers a stand up desk might be a very very good alternative to a normal desk where you sit! Although it certainly is recommendable as well while using the stand up desk to do some mini breaks for exercises just to stretch the body and improve the blood circulation! For the back I think it´s the best solution.




  • Let us know when you have the blog post up, and post the link to your website for all to see!




  • Hi Patrick, i have a website about workstation desks and after reading you’re post i am considering writing a post on desks especially for people who preferr to stand or have no other option.

    Thanks for the great links to, they’re very valuable for me.




  • That’s a very unique way of turning something bad into something good. It worked for you and I’m sure it can work for others as well. I feel sorry that it came to this for you and others and I hope I never have to use it because of an injury.




  • You wouldn’t per chance have any better pictures of how they raised your desk, would you? I’ve got a 90 degree desk, and I’m looking for ideas to raise it, especially on the cheap. I need to raise it about a food and a half too.

    Thanks!




  • I bought this desk: http://www.thewalknwork.com/ last fall. It fits over my already existing treadmill. The height is adjustable and I walk at 3.2 mph for hours while working. It is my favorite tool and I highly recommend it!




  • My dad has always had trouble sitting for long periods of time and he too had to find something to allow him to stand at work. He tried boxes under his monitor and keyboard but when he wanted to sit it was a hassle. So he got a Kangaroo Pro adjustable height desk and loves it.




  • My husband injured his back and has been using a portable sit to stand desk unit that you place on your existing desk. After 3 weeks his pain was gone and his energy level was up, up, up!!!




  • I just fractured my L1 vertebrae, and can’t sit for more than about 1/2 hour before it get painful. I’m converting my office desk to a standing desk for at least the next month, and may permanently if I like it. I need to look into those anti-fatigue floor mats.




  • Moving from active retail management to a desk job has been killing me. I’ve already converted my desk to a standing workstation and I love it! Thanks for the idea Patrick!




  • I was an onsite Apple consultant and was constantly standing and running around which left me with lots of energy. I have since moved to desk job managing macs now. There is defiantly something to be said for standing at work. Probably not all of the time, but sure helps boost your energy.




  • I lost so much weight from cancer, I’m all bones. It hurts like hell to sit down. Feels like I have a real TAIL, the little pointy bone.

    I can’t stand it. Can’t gain weight to help it either. I feel for you.




  • Standing at your desk is not your only problem…your “ride’em” lawnmower is now a no-go. Pushmowers are all the rage!

    May I suggest one that doesn’t even use petrol….I mean an old school mower. Think green ;)




  • When I was a DJ, the control board was at a height more conducive for standing. It was surprisingly comfortable to stand for a 5-hour airshift (standing also helps you project your voice better). I’ll have to try raising my drafting table up, so I’m not hunching over it so severely.




  • Totally Agree!
    My fav desk I ever worked on were drafting/art desks in art classes with bar height stools that made it easy to sit or stand.

    I surprisingly stood quite a bit and remember the energy gains you speak of. Hopefully I’ll soon convert my home office to be of draft table height with stools instead of chairs.




  • Michael – what do you see as a barrier keeping you from standing while podcasting? Seems like you could just… tilt the camer up? :)

    Ben – Agreed. This is by far the best backpack I have ever owned. Takes a crazy beating, holds a 17″ laptop (or three – I’m serious) and doesn’t look half bad.
    For those of you wanting more info on it, it’s the Wenger (Swiss Gear – company that makes the Swiss Army Knife) IBEX backpack.

    The best price I’ve found is here:
    http://www.provantage.com/wenger-swissgear-ga-7316-06f00~7AVNL00C.htm




  • Nice backpack!, Patrick. I have the same one.




  • That’s an awesome way to turn a negative into a positive. I, often, wondered how I could pull that off while podcasting. Suggestions?