DIY Standing Desk – The $22 IKEA Solution

Back in April, I built my own standing desk using boxes. It was a cheap hack, but it didn’t work for long, because the boxes began to warp after a week. Although I am still not convinced that a standing desk is superior to a sitting one, I was inspired by a link in the most recent Wired magazine. They highlighted a tutorial that explained how to build your own standing desk for just $22 using items found at IKEA.

I followed the instructions and now I have a standing desk. I’m pretty sure this one isn’t going to warp like my box solution. The only piece of information missing from the tutorial was the size of the wood screws. I made a lucky guess and selected #10 x 1-3/4. They fit perfectly. Below is a photo of the desk now. I may lower the keyboard stand.

TUTORIAL: A standing desk for $22

Standing Desk version 2.0

3 Minutes to a Pain-Free Life

I want to thank Jason for recommending this book in the comments on my Health Goals Late 2011 Edition post. I listed my #5 goal as Improve Posture and Alignment, but I had a concern.

I haven’t been very disciplined about doing posture exercises over the years. I think I need to discover a High Intensity approach. Find a few core exercises that yield maximum benefit in the shortest time. If I need to spent 20-40 minutes several times a week, Ill likely fail.

A 3 minute protocol almost seems to good to be true. Was it?

3 Minutes to a Pain-Free Life: The Groundbreaking Program for Total Body Pain Prevention and Rapid Relief
3 Minutes to a Pain-Free Life: The Groundbreaking Program for Total Body Pain Prevention and Rapid Relief by Joseph Weisberg takes a unique time efficient approach to undoing the damage modern life inflicts upon on our skeleton. We sit far too much and our movement is not varied. The result is poor posture and pain.

Instead of following a program that takes 30-60 minutes, one that I might do once a week, 3 Minutes uses a 6 exercise routine that is to be done daily that takes as the title suggests just 3 minutes. I’ve had mixed results with stretching and alignment exercises in the past. This book held a clue on why my results were so inconsistent. These stretches should be held from 30-60 seconds. Not less and not more. In the past, I would get impatient the more I did a program and would start to accelerate the routine. That is usually when I stopped seeing benefits and would quit.

A friend of mine told me that the 6 Exercises were very similar to ones used at the start of her yoga class.

  1. Bow
  2. Arch (called the Cat Pose in yoga)
  3. Lizard (called the Cobra in yoga)
  4. Natural Squat (also known as the Asian Squat)
  5. Split
  6. Sky Reach

Bow Stretch

sky reach

Additional Exercises

Besides the 6 basic required exercises, 3 Minutes lists a bunch of other exercises you can pick and choose from to correct specific issues. I added exercises for the neck and my mid back. Occasionally,I would also do some hip flexor stretching. Even with the additional work, my time commitment never exceeded 6 minutes.

My 30 Day Results

The book stresses that you must do the exercises in order and do them every day. I complied. It was very easy to make the time to do the routine. Often a song would come on the radio and I’d be finished before the next song started. The greatest benefit I have received from the routine is my shoulder mobility is much greater. I am a big fan of the Sky Reach exercise. The Bow and Natural Squat were also beneficial. The best exercise is the one in the section on fixing the mid-back rounding. I could see changes in my posture in less than a week.The area that hasn’t helped so far has been the neck exercises. My neck is still very stiff. I’m going to keep at the routine, but I may seek out new exercises for the neck if things don’t improve by the end of this year.

My only issue with the book is the same issue I have with 99% of all books that prescribe a daily routine. They need to have posters or printable versions of the routine that I can refer to while stretching. Flipping through a book looking for the next exercise is a hassle. At the 2004 Arnold Expo, I had a conversation with Pavel where I suggested he sell poster versions of his Relax into Stretch and Super Joints books. He liked the idea, but it never happened.

I highly recommend the book 3 Minutes to a Pain-Free Life. It is the only program that I have ever been able to stick to on a daily basis. It has already made a positive impact on my shoulders and mid-back. With time, I hope my neck mobility sees similar progress.

8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back

I heard some good things about this book, so I decided to check it out.

8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Natural Posture Solutions for Pain in the Back, Neck, Shoulder, Hip, Knee, and Foot (Remember When It Didn't Hurt)
8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Natural Posture Solutions for Pain in the Back, Neck, Shoulder, Hip, Knee, and Foot (Remember When It Didn’t Hurt) by Esther Gokhale is a book with 8 lessons to help the reader eliminate and prevent back and neck pain. The book is full of color photos to assist with each lesson.

I will say that a few of the chapters could have provided more detail in explaining the movement (Tallstanding, Glide Walking). However, I did grasp the core message this book offered and that is that modern man needs to lengthen the spine as much of our pain comes from spinal compression. Think about how rounded your back is when driving in a car, sitting at a desk or even after standing for long periods. This book details why the normal advice to stand up straight fails and how it can bring on a different type of back pain.

In the past two years I have done lots of research on back pain and I promise to post completely on what I’ve learned. The lessons in this book complimented my understanding of posture induced back pain. Parents of infants will also find value in this book as it shows how baby strollers and seats put infants into spinal compression and what proper baby posture looks like.