How’s your back? My £28 suggestion.


28/02/2014 by Chris Green

Slouching in Front of a Computer - XrayChristian ministers frequently report bad backs and shoulders. Mine became so bad that I ended up in surgery at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital a few years ago. I’ve no idea if we deviate from the norm on this, but I’ve a hunch (I know, I know) that hours spent sitting reading as well as using a screen may contribute to our problems.

So it’s worth considering solutions – especially as I’m not going to suggest you give up reading or computers. One of the big fads/trends at the moment is a ‘Standing desk’.  The theory is that sitting for hours at a time is doing our spines and general health no good at all. Standing up to work would do us good – and burn off a few more calories as well.

The trouble is that Standing Desks, as the best solutions are called, are ruinously expensive – probably because they are big fads/trends. Try Googling, and then wince.
There’s a good introductory article from thewirecutter here.
So here’s my cheapskate alternative, knocked together out of some standard IKEA parts:
1  x LACK side table £8
1 x EKBY JÄRPEN Shelf (79cm) £8
2 x EKBY STILIG brackets £6 each
As you can see, I’ve simply mounted the shelf on the side table, off-centre so I can use the mouse or trackpad comfortably.  And I stood it on my normal desk: that happens to be birch, so I chose the birch effect for the side-table and shelf.
That’s £28 spent – but if I decide in the end that I don’t like it, I can easily re-use the parts.
I’m still experimenting with the layout: currently I seem to like the keyboard high and the mouse slightly lower. I haven’t tried, but I imagine it would need to be differently configured for a laptop. I have to say, though, that it is way more comfortable than I imagined, and even though I don’t use it all the time, it is a very useable option. And I am forced to be much more mobile and change my posture constantly.
The Mac, of course, did not come flat packed from IKEA.
(Not a very spiritual post, but we are embodied beings, and good health is good stewardship)
Have you experimented with a standing desk?  How did you do it, and what’s been the result?

6 thoughts on “How’s your back? My £28 suggestion.

  1. Ian Rees says:

    I haven’t tried a standing desk, but it has good pedigree, as you will see from the link: Winston’s desk is angled, so it looks a little low to me (guaranteed to give more back ache?). But apparently he always stood to write. Hope you get some relief.

  2. Matt says:

    Chris, have you seen xkcd’s healthier alternative?

  3. Phil S says:

    How can your normal desk be tidy enough to accommodate one of those! More seriously, I am still using a conventional desk, but wanted a ‘riser’ for my monitor for the same kind of reasons. Having investigated the options, I found that 4 soup tins and a small shelf got my monitor to a better height and saved me £20 or so 🙂

  4. James Taylor says:

    You’ve spurred me back into action! I began plans for a standing desk when reorganising my study in the autumn. Just going to need a bit of weekend DIY to turn some MDF offcuts into a custom-built desk on top of a couple of half-height IKEA BILLY bookcases already installed. Thanks for the reminder!

  5. […] Have you thought about converting your office or study to have a cheap standing desk? […]

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