My Slightly More Ergonomic Office

posted by Andrea | 10/10/2019

I’ve been working from home for almost 12 years now — even before children and even before I started my blog.

It began as a part-time at-home gig while I was working full time outside of the home for another company. Since then, it has morphed to the point where I am now working 100% from my home computer.

I almost never need to leave my house for anything work-related.  It’s glorious… the most perfect job for this season of my life!

Of course, due to the nature of working from home (specifically from my computer), I end up sitting at my desk for the vast majority of my “working hours”. 

It’s nowhere near 8 hours a day like a traditional desk job, but it still all adds up over the course of many days, weeks, months and years. 

Ironically, I’ve never put much thought into the “best” working environment for my body… but after suffering from mild to moderate lower back and neck pain for the majority of my adult life, I FINALLY started to see a chiropractor a few months ago. 

I’m certain I’ll share more about this experience in a future post… but based on how “out of alignment” my spine was, I realized why my attempt at physical therapy (last year) didn’t help me

I’m now taking steps to get my bones back in place first… then I’ll work on retraining the muscles.

It will be a long process… but I’ll hopefully have many years to live yet, and I’d prefer to live them with as little back pain as possible! 

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My Slightly More Ergonomic Office

My chiropractor has me doing a handful of at-home exercises 2 times per day, and she mentioned a couple of really simple changes I could make to my office to help with my lower back and neck pain. 

#1 = Raise the height of my monitor so the middle of the screen is at eye-level.

#2 = Replace my chair with an exercise ball (or work at a standing desk).

When I got home from my consultation, I hoisted my monitor up on a few books and blew up the exercise ball we had in our storage closet… it took me roughly 10 minutes and I had implemented both of her suggestions! 

It looks a little silly (definitely out of character with the rest of my farmhouse decor) but I’m giving it a try for the next 3-4 months to see if I notice any big changes. 

So far, I have noticed fewer headaches and neck issues… and the pain in my back hasn’t gotten any worse.

We have a schedule in place for regular office visits and specific at-home exercises through the end of the calendar year — at which point I will get new X-rays and do follow-up testing to see what type of progress I’ve made. 

If all goes as planned, I will then start working to retrain my muscles after the New Year.

I still have a LONG way to go to heal my back (and hopefully eventually my ab separation) but I’m making small steps in the right direction, which is key for me! 

More Office Links: 

Eventually, I may be interested in a standing desk option — but for now, this is what I could do with what I already had in the house (and it’s better than nothing at all!)

What are your best tips to create a more ergonomic office environment? 

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18 comments

  1. Bente Christa Hansen

    11/12/2019

    Andrea, your post prompted me to buy an exercise ball. I have used it for 10 days now when working at my computer – and my back loves it. Less pain in my lower back and more mobility in my partly paralyzed right side.
    https://www.facebook.com/bentechrista/posts/10220171145699678

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow — this is so great to hear! Thanks so much for sharing — and congrats on less back pain!

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  2. Jennifer

    10/11/2019

    That’s a great chiropractor to give you exercises and encouragement for self-care. Some in my experience have just wanted patients in and out quickly. I love my current gal, but she never has suggestions for anything outside of her treatments.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, it’s very helpful and I love the feeling that I’m doing something to help heal my back

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  3. JoDi

    10/10/2019

    I partially herniated a disk in my lower back when I was 29, and the rolled up towel under my lower back was one of the things that helped when it acted up. The physical therapist had me do some exercises that helped as well. Walking on a treadmill (and eventually becoming a runner) was also a huge help.
    One thing I realized a few years after this problem started was that our mattress was contributing to my back pain and causing occasional flare-ups so I bought a small egg-crate foam pad and cut it to the right size to fit where my lower back rests on the bed, and that ended the flare-ups. I placed it right on top of the mattress so the fitted sheet over it kept it in place. It’s worth considering if some extra support in bed at your lower back and possibly a different type of pillow for the neck issues might help. All back problems are different so it’s really a trial and error thing!
    A word of caution about the ball seat – I recently tried one at work for several months and went back to my regular chair after I was started to notice lower back pain. It didn’t happen right away so just keep an eye on how your back is feeling over time. I had the opportunity to get a standing desk too but decided against it after doing some research. Your best bet will be something adjustable as others have already recommended. Too much time in one position seems to be problematic no matter what that position is so changing things up throughout the day seems to be key! Fortunately, I don’t sit for long periods of time at my job.
    Best wishes with the back issues!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, the towel under my back is so odd in my opinion — but it works!

    And thanks for the heads up on the ball chair — I do NOT use it exclusively, but move around a bit

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  4. Cathy

    10/10/2019

    I have an electric sit stand at work and it has made a huge difference! the desk lets me to work whatever way for however long I need that day. Standing part of the day with the monitor and keyboard at the right height has really helped me with my pain.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow — that sounds awesome!

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  5. Katie

    10/10/2019

    I work from home full time and am prone to right shoulder and neck pain, so here’s my list of adjustments I made to my work space:
    1. Raise monitor height, and split my monitors – so I have 2, right next to each other
    2. Pull out tray under the desk to set my keyboard and mouse on, to keep my shoulders down
    3. Ergonomic split keyboard
    4. Core Chair – the chair version, upgraded, of the exercise ball

    All of these things together have made a huge difference. If I take an afternoon at a coffee shop for a change of scenery – I notice the difference in how I feel from being hunched over a laptop.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Good tips — thanks for sharing!

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  6. Avia

    10/10/2019

    I work at a desk 8 hours a day and suffer a lot of back and neck problems. About a year ago I switched to a veridesk so I can stand up part of the day and that has made a difference. Also a chiropractor that will work with you to actually retrain your muscles is great. I worked with a few different chiropractors for years that were just interested in adjusting me. Recently I started seeing one who was interesting in rehabilitation and it’s wonderful!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    you are about the 5th person to recommend these desks today — I’ll have to check them out! 🙂

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  7. Stel

    10/10/2019

    I recently had to change my chair and got a really simple plastic chair without armrests. Feet also up on a small footrest. I used to “pull” myself forward on previous chair with wheel, and still working on loosening the hamstrings, that got so tight without me realising it.
    I’m stretching hamstrings and butt twice a day now and also work on strengthening legs and glutes, as it support most of your frame.
    All the best, get that back sorted out! I thought mine was corrected after suffering with lower back pain when my kids were little, but bad habits got to me now. I’l be stretching and strength training for the rest of my life.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Stel — I’m also doing stretches 2 times a day and I need to lay on rolled-up towels (in a certain way) for 15-20 minutes before I got to bed 🙂
    Crazy… but it’s working!

    [Reply]

  8. Robbi

    10/10/2019

    My hubby recently started working from home 3 days a week. At the computer all day. It didn’t take long for him to realize he needed a new desk at home. He went with a desk that can be cranked up for a standing desk! I think he’s really liking the option of sitting or standing!
    UNICOO – Crank Adjustable Height Standing Desk, Adjustable Sit to Stand up Desk,Home Office Computer Table, Portable Writing Desk, Study Table (Teak Top/Black Legs) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HMRTPGQ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_vaZNDbXG5H6ZB

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    thanks Robbi! I’ll check out that link — sounds great to be able to do BOTH sitting and standing!

    [Reply]

  9. Julia

    10/10/2019

    I worked from home for 6 years before kids and loved it for so many reasons 🙂 I used a Varidesk (https://www.varidesk.com/) and it was amazing. I could use it to sit or stand because it turns out standing all day isn’t great either. They’re not cheap, but I received mine as a birthday gift and it was one of the best gifts ever!!! If, in the future, you go this route, I hope they’re available second hand for you!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for the link — their products look fantastic!

    [Reply]