When Standing Desk Workstations Cause Lower Extremity Pain

Jenny L Sanders DPM

Standing desks have become increasingly popular in the workplace. Scientific studies have shown an increase in calorie expenditure when using a standing desk, which may be beneficial to weight loss.1-2 However, the musculoskeletal effects are less definitive.3

Due to this shift in workplace ergonomics, I now ask patients with lower extremity complaints about standing desk use. In some cases, worsening, non-injury pain, especially plantar fasciitis, can directly correlate with the use of a standing desk. Not surprisingly, many patients who develop lower extremity pain as a result of using a standing desk have no idea that this may be the cause of their pain.

Fortunately, in most cases, stretching, supportive shoes, orthotics and alternating periods of standing with sitting are sufficient to alleviate their pain.


1. Levine JA, Miller JM. The energy expenditure of using a “walk-and-work” desk for office workers with obesity. Br J Sports Med. 2007;41(9):558–61.
2. Reiff C, Marlatt K, Dengel DR. Difference in caloric expenditure in sitting versus standing desks. J Phys Act Health. 2012;9(7):1009–11.
3. Ebara T, Kubo T, Inoue T. Effects of adjustable sit-stand VDT workstations on workers’ musculoskeletal discomfort, alertness and performance. Ind Health. 2008;46(5):497–505.

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