Desks come in many forms and if you’re a PC gamer, your desk is almost as important as your PC, particularly if you have any health issues. If you’re thinking about upgrading or changing desks, have you considered all the possibilities? There are three main desk types: a traditional sitting desk, a standing desk and a reclining “desk”. If you’re bedbound, or use your wheelchair as a gaming chair, your options are limited to finding the best within the suitable category, but for most people, a sitting desk is the choice just because it’s never occurred to try anything else. If your desk isn’t the haven you escape to for long hours of gaming, if you don’t melt into your chair and never want to get up again, maybe it’s time to think about an upgrade.
The key phrase to remember when choosing a desk is this: Humans are designed for moving. There is no healthy or right choice when it comes to desks. Standing desks are not healthier choices than sitting desks and reclining desks are not more comfortable or supportive than a good sitting desk. The type of desk is less important than its set-up and most important of all, choosing a type that blends with your lifestyle and personality.
The possibilities are endless
Traditional sitting desk
Traditional sittings desks are still by far the most popular choice for gaming. Their popularity makes them attractive; there are endless choices, a wide price range and a definitely feeling of comfort when it comes to something we’ve all had since childhood. The media has plugged a few articles of “sitting at a desk is bad for you” and “humans aren’t designed to sit”, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with an ergonomic sitting desk, it’s all about how you use it.
Make sure that you utilise an ergonomic set-up and have enough desk space for all your devices and arrange them so that the ones you use the most are in the best position and if you change over frequently, leave space for maneuvering. For example: if you use your keyboard for typing, but a keypad and mouse for gaming, swap your keyboard out when you game. Make sure your screen and keyboard is at the correct height. Buy a height adjustable chair so that you can customise it to the desk or if you use a wheelchair or other fixed height chair, add layers to your desk to lower or raise the height of the keyboard and screen to the correct level for you. Your chair is important and should provide you with lower back support and if needed adequate neck support. Leave room at your feet for a footstool if you need to raise your legs at times.
A sitting desk is a great choice for anyone who finds sitting upright a comfortable position to be in. It’s also a great choice if you spend a lot of your time reclining and would like to spend your gaming hours a bit more actively. Alternatively, it’s also a good choice if you spend your day mostly on your feet and want to sit down and relax when you get home.
Standing desks are growing in popularity for office work around the globe, but they are unconventional for gaming computers. That doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be the perfect desk for you. If you find standing more comfortable than sitting; prefer being able to move around whilst playing or sit at a desk at work all day, a standing desk can be a fantastic gaming desk. I would recommend also picking up a comfortable bar stool with lower back support for when do want to take a break and sit down for a while.
Be aware that the biggest perils of a standing desk is forcing yourself to stand when you’re tired; you just end up leaning which is very bad on your wrists and back. If you do have a chair, there is the temptation to sit down and soon you may find yourself not standing at your standing desk at all but instead perched on an uncomfortable and unsupportive bar stool for hours. If that happens, rethink your decision and either go back to sitting or think about an adjustable desk so that you can sit down comfortably when you get tired or had a long day.
Standing desks are a lifestyle choice. If you naturally fidget and move a lot and prefer being able to pace whilst you wait for that pick-up group to assemble or are so tired of sitting down all day long, it’s a great option. If you want to retain the flexibility of both a standing and sitting desk, there are desks that are height adjustable so that you can do either depending on preference.
If even sitting up is too arduous or simply not an option, a reclining “desk” is the way to go. I would not recommend an over-the-bed station unless you have absolutely no other choice. If you can move at all, setup your gaming station at a recliner in the corner of your bedroom or lounge. Chairs, particularly if you invest in a riser/recliner, are more supportive and adjustable than sitting up in bed. If you are stuck in bed on your back, an integrated free-standing or wall-mount system is the way to go.
There are quite a few top of the line products, like the Ergotron Wallmount System, but there are also cheaper alternatives if you are willing and able to hack your desk together. Reclining systems, whether wall mounted or free standing can be combined with any chair, either a riser/recliner, wheelchair or even positioned over a bed. If you are interested in making your own, you will need a solid unit or wall to fix clamps onto and buy individual clamps for each gaming item. The drawback of wall-mounted and integrated systems are that gaming PCs have larger towers than the brackets usually allow for. If you are interested in a reclining desk, I would recommend aiming for a unit to hold the peripherals and place the tower on the floor nearby. We will be looking into modular reclining systems in the future, so check back for tips.
Choosing your desk
Your desk will depend on your ‘day job’
There isn’t a healthier option when it comes to choosing your desk. It’s being sedentary that’s the problem, not sitting or standing or lying down whilst using your computer. Sitting down for too long leads to an unhealthy drop in your metabolism and an increased risk of heart disease. Standing up for too long leads to an increased risk of carotid atherosclerosis or developing varicose veins. Lying down for too long or being confined to a wheelchair or bed comes with its own health risks – pressure sores, pulmonary congestion, spinal pressure resulting in chronic back pain.
The important point when looking for the healthier option is to pick one that provides balance. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, it is important to get up and move around regularly, just like it’s important to sit down and rest if you lead a very active life. Moderation is key; take your personality and life style into account: if you are on your feet all day, set your gaming station up to be relaxing and restful. If you work at a desk all day, don’t come home and game at a desk in the evening. If you’re stuck in bed most of the time, try to make a comfortable, perhaps semi-reclined workstation where you can spend some time out of bed.
If you tire easily, make sure that your choice of desk make allowances for it. If you game often for long periods of time, I would not recommend a standing desk. If you prefer sitting, make sure your desk is set up ergonomically and invest in a good supportive chair. If sitting up is too tiring, think about semi-reclined gaming stations or adjustable gaming stations that can adapt to your good and bad days.
If you suffer from chronic pain, choose the desk that minimizes your pain levels. If you have trouble with your feet, think about a desk that will allow you to raise your legs. If you suffer from low back pain that’s worsened by sitting down, consider either a standing or (semi) reclining set-up or think about replacing your chair with a large ball; which can be helpful to some. If you suffer from headaches, don’t overlook neck or eye strain as contributing factors. Choose a set-up that will fully support your head and neck in a good position.
There are plenty of desks available that will work with your wheelchair. Alternatively, some electric wheelchairs will hook up to your PC and allow you to use your control pad as a mouse. Add a tray for the keyboard and a mounted screen and you’re set. Sometimes it might be more comfortable to get out of the chair; think about using a reclining chair gaming set-up or invest in a supportive office chair that you can transfer over to easily.
Choosing a desk is an important decision, but ultimately comes down to preference. If you struggle to sit up in a chair and find it very tiring, don’t stick with a traditional sitting desk. Think about the options available and consider an upgrade to something more suitable to you, your health, your disability and your lifestyle. The quest for the perfect desk can be a long one; don’t give up. If you have unusual needs, consider making use of cheaper materials so that you can keep changing until you find the solution that works best for you. Whichever desk type you choose, make sure its set-up ergonomically and tear yourself away from the screen rather than buying a new desk because you sit down too much. The right desk is out there, don’t stop looking until you track it down.