When I was 12 years old, I herniated a disc in my lower back and have had chronic back pain ever since.

Because I’ve been dealing with it for so long, I’ve become quite adept at identifying the severity of the pain as well as dealing with it. I can usually identify ahead of time if my back is going to “go out” and try to do things to prevent it. When it does flare up, I know exactly the positions to get in to pop or stretch it depending upon what the situation dictates. I know what exercises to do to strengthen my back, and I know the exact exercises that will cause my back to be “tired” and therefore weaken it. Overall, I work very hard to do several things to strengthen my back … and in doing so, I’ve had great personal success.

But lately, I’ve been having problems again and upon closer inspection, I believe its because of all the time I don’t spend focusing on my back. Said plainly, I think its because of all the time I spend sitting on my ass. A quick count reveals that there are no less than 35 “seats” in my house! In a given day, I spend about 14 of my 16 waking hours in a seated position (at work, eating, on the toilet, in a car, at bible class, on the couch)! **The amount of time I spend actively trying to keep my back in good health pales in comparison to the amount of time I spend passively destroying it. **And that’s on a night where I sleep 8 hours. If I’m up late programming on a side project, I’m only doing further damage.

And yes, I know I should sit up straight the whole time, but I also know no one on this planet does that. Its practically impossible. The amount of effort required to keep your back in isometric extension while performing a dead lift is phenomenal – and that’s when the dead lift is the ONLY thing on your mind. Keeping your back in that same extension while also focusing fully on a project or program is arguably much more difficult. When I’m coding, I’ll get focused on something and next time I look up, its 3 or even 4 hours later. And unknowingly for that whole time, I’ve been slouched back and to my right (mouse-hand) side. So then I try to get up and I can’t even stand straight for a few minutes. The end result is probably counter-intuitive to most, but my back feels better after squatting and dead lifting 400 pounds than it does after sitting at a computer for a day.

Anyway, today I hit a breaking point. I was at the gym, and my back was so weak that every single lift was either painful or impossible. It has been bad for the last 6 weeks or so (since I’ve been so busy at work), but today was a whole new level of bad. I left the gym and went straight to Home Depot.

On blocks

The end result is my very own “Standing Desk.” It’s a little more …. well, “urban” than I’d probably prefer, but this is just a test and quality standing desks are expensive. This raised my desk 16” and cost less than $20.00. It’s a little higher than I thought I needed (I was shooting for 14”) but after getting it set up it actually feels really good.

So, I’m going to try this for at least two weeks. I’m sure my feet will be tired at first, but I think its worth it. And if I really like it, maybe I’ll look into a nice standing desk… or maybe I’ll just paint/cover the cinder blocks. :-)

Tomorrow I’ll actually be out of the office, so the first full day’s experience will have to wait till Wednesday, but we’ll see how it goes, and I’ll post back here in two weeks.


My lovely wife reminded me of this today. No post about a standing desk would truly be complete without it: http://www.nbc.com/the-office/video/this-will-not-stand/1371438