• Lydia Ng

Here's How I Fixed My Work From Home Setup

Circuit breaker measures won't be lifted for another month and we're all still hunched over our computers at home. If you've got aches and pains from poor ergonomics, an online chiropractic consultation may just be what you need.

This is my work from home situation: My dining table doubles as my desk and by mid-morning I’m sinking into my lower back and hunched over my laptop. By the end of the day, my body’s aching and I'm exhausted. You can relate, surely; a 2018 study revealed that 73 per cent of office workers surveyed experience pain in their bodies.

Clearly, my work station isn't ideal and the need for a better setup is of utmost importance. (If this all sounds a tad dramatic, here's what happens to your spine when you slouch.)

Enter registered chiropractor, Dr Neil Stakes M.Chiro (SA), who owns chiropractic and homeopathic clinic, Back II Life. He's offered to show me how to improve my desk/dining table set-up via Telehealth aka an online consultation.

Lifestyle Habits

The first thing Dr Stakes asks about are my lifestyle habits: how long I’m at my computer for and if I take any breaks, how many hours of sleep I get, whether I fit exercise in now and before the circuit breaker. I tell him that I stare at my screen six, maybe eight hours every day, mobile phone not included. It’s hard to switch off, and whilst I exercise at home regularly, I'm definitely not getting my steps in.

“You’ve probably heard, sitting is the new smoking,” Dr Stakes says, reminding me to stand up every 20 minutes to stretch and walk around the house.

Setting Up The Work Station

My phone camera is placed at an angle where Dr Stakes can see my alignment and posture, and the position of my laptop. He’s pleased to see a lumbar support cushion, but as it turns out, I haven’t been using it correctly. It’s supposed to be placed against the middle of my back, but I've had it behind my lower back this entire time.

His advice: Prop my laptop on a box or some books so the screen is at eye level. Sit back in the chair, feet flat on the floor. My dining chair isn’t ergonomically designed, with deep seating and being fairly vertically challenged, my feet just touches the floor. Dr Stakes suggests placing a book underneath my feet.

He adds that using a separate, wireless keyboard would be ideal. By relying on a laptop’s built-in keyboard, your back is in an inclined position. With a separate keyboard, the distance between screen and your eyes will be reduced and you’ll adopt a correct spinal cord posture, as your hands won’t be as close to the laptop as they were before.

Some Extra Questions

Dr Stakes also asks if I have any other concerns, and I mention that I often feel a pinch in my lower back whenever I sit for too long, or do certain movements, like burpees. I've had an MRI done, and it's not from vertebrae damage or a pinched nerve.

He suspects that I may suffer from Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Dysfunction, but any adjustments would obviously have to be done at the clinic. In the meantime, he recommends using an ice pack whenever I feel any discomfort, and to avoid plyometric exercises like burpees and jump lunges.

...And A Follow-Up

Right after my consultation, Dr Stakes sends me a rehab plan with exercises to help strengthen my lower back and more information about the SI joint. He also schedules in a short session the week after, to see how my newly arranged space and prescribed exercises are working out. I actually do feel more productive, and put it down to the mind-body connection from adopting the right posture and taking regular breaks. My muscles feel less tight and my lower back bothers me less.

The Verdict

You could get tips online, but what works for one person's desk/dining table won't necessarily work for yours. Here, you get professional, personalised advice that is specifically geared at your work station.

Teleheath is also open to anyone who has specific issues, like musculoskeletal pains or disorders and needs advice. “It’s a great supplement to in-patient consultations to what their real life looks like and allows me to advise them properly.” says Dr Stakes. "Specific patterns of movements are associated with pain syndrome and can reveal various pathologies."

The only drawback is, if you are suffering from any pains, you won’t get hands-on therapy. What you will get however, is a thorough evaluation, guidance in performing rehabilitative exercise and self-care instructions at home.

Each online consultation costs $88, and lasts 15-30 minutes. An in-clinic consultation that includes hands-on therapy is $140, without GST. Click here to book an appointment.

DULU received a complimentary consultation and follow-up from Back II Life; however, all opinions expressed here are our own and we do not receive commission from affiliate links.

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