After experiments, I’m now feeling the benefits of a standing desk

Finding the best ways to sit and stand helps me with my EDS symptoms

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

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Over the years, I’ve tried a variety of ways to make myself more comfortable at work, where I’m a teacher and college counselor. With my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), too much time in any one position, whether sitting or standing, can cause discomfort. My workdays fluctuate between lots of time on my feet and plenty of time sitting at my desk. It just depends on the day and what I have going on.

When I sit too long, I get stiff, and when I stand too long, I get sore, especially in my feet. As time has passed, though, I’ve figured out a few things that seem to help.

I’ve learned that if I’m going to be sitting for a while, I’ll turn a heating pad on low and put it behind me on my desk chair. That helps me be less tight and sore, and it has a bonus benefit because my office tends to be cold.

I also frequently change positions. Staying in the same position of any kind is likely to cause soreness, so I’ll swap how I’m sitting as soon as I start to feel twitchy. But sometimes, I just need to stand up for a while. Figuring out how to do that comfortably, however, took some trial and error.

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The search for comfort

For a long time, I wanted a desk that would let me adjust the height so I could stand while using it, but when trying a colleague’s, I noticed several things about it that I didn’t like. For starters, when I wanted to sit down, I found the whole contraption on my desk to be clunky and irritating. I like to spread out my work, and an adjustable desk didn’t allow that.

Additionally, when I had the desk raised so I could use it while standing, my shoulder quickly began to ache. Most standing desks don’t offer much space to rest your arms. When I’m sitting, I can rest my elbows on the arms of my chair or push my keyboard back so I can have more of my arms on the desk. With a typical standing desk, however, there’s little room for my arms, so having them just hang put a lot of strain on my damaged shoulder. I was simply trading one form of pain for another, and that wasn’t going to work.

With that option out, I borrowed a pedestal laptop cart from another colleague and gave that a try. While that was smaller and didn’t sit atop my regular desk, it wasn’t going to solve my problems, either. It was too small and didn’t rise high enough for me to stand comfortably for long periods of time without being hunched over. Frustrated, I gave up searching for a while and just took walks and stretch breaks when I needed them.

Several months later, I stumbled on a standing desk that looked more like an adjustable-height table. It could go up or down, but mostly just provided a large, flat working surface about two feet square. I was skeptical, but I found it on sale for a reasonable price and decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did! I found that I could adjust the height to a level where I didn’t have to hunch over, and the large work space allowed me to rest my forearms on the surface, which reduced strain on my shoulder.

Like many things with EDS, trial and error is the name of the game. While it took me months of attempts, I was lucky enough to try various products from colleagues and figure out what would or wouldn’t benefit me.

Now, I can easily switch between sitting and standing as much as I want throughout the day, which helps to minimize my soreness and reduces the risk of a pain flare. Even when the search takes a while, the benefits of figuring out a better way can make a big difference!

Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


Mischa Brown avatar

Mischa Brown

That’s very helpful. Yes! Trial and error is absolutely the name of the game, but worth it when we find our “sweet spot”.

Claire avatar


Thank you for this helpful article. Would love to know what desk you ended up purchasing. Also would love a link to it, too!

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

Karen Del Vecchio

Hi, Claire! This is the desk I wound up with. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

Renee Banke avatar

Renee Banke

Are you able to share the brand of the standing desk you liked? I have the same issues with EDS and work and also like to spread my work out on my desk. I'm interested in what worked for you. Thank you, and I'm glad you found a solution.

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

Karen Del Vecchio

Hi, Renee! This is the desk I wound up with. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

Sherri Jones avatar

Sherri Jones

Good morning thank you for such a wonderful newsletter I enjoy it so much! Can you tell me which standing desk you went with finally? I’m looking as well and curious what finally worked for you.

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

Karen Del Vecchio

Hi, Sherri! This is the desk I wound up with. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!


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