“The difference since working with Zeena has been significant. Before, I had a constant daily lower back pain that made it difficult to sleep at night. My neck and shoulder also felt tense and strained. It was tiring to be at my desk. Zeena took a thorough (ergo) assessment and was able to point out what seemed like minor changes in my posture that made a significant difference in how I feel.” – Haumea H.
Haumea came to VerticAlign with chronic lower back pain that she believed was related to her workstation. Before the ergonomic assessment appointment, she took pictures of her workstation and emailed them to Zeena, her assessment specialist. Haumea showed up to the private video call with a moveable camera so she could be seen from all angles. She also asked Zeena to try to keep any equipment suggestions under a budget of $500.
Before the Ergo Assessment
Zeena assessed her workstation pictures (below) and immediately saw that there were some improvements that could be made:
- Haumea was sitting in an upright position for hours on end, with no back support or option to rest.
- Her feet were also not firmly planted on the ground, which means her pelvis had a constant “tug” on it. This was creating more work on the muscles in the lower back to keep her upright.
- Haumea also had something called a “reach” happening with her upper body. Her arms were forced to “reach” forward on her desk in order to type on her keyboard.
- Finally, her laptop was too low. If you look at the middle picture, you will notice that her eyes are looking “down” towards her screen which places her neck into cervical flexion for hours on end. This can easily contribute to discomfort in the spine.
During the Assessment
During the 45 minute video session, Zeena and Haumea experimented with a few solutions, such as grabbing books (later substituted with a foot rest) for her feet.
First, Zeena and Haumea to keep the chair since it was set at the correct height. Haumea needed to move the chair closer to the desk to allow her to move back and rest into the back rest. However, the chair did not provide lumbar support since the chair back was on the smaller side. They decided to try a simple home hack – adding a small rolled up towel in the lower back in order to provide the needed feedback to the body to maintain a neutral pelvis position in the chair.
The next challenge was to fix the “reach” and the laptop. Zeena guided Haumea to use a tape measure to make sure the keyboard and a new adjustable laptop stand would fit. It turned out that it would not work! Luckily, the desk had a unique front pull out drawer. They experimented with pulling out the drawer and placing a wooden “plank” on it as a makeshift keyboard tray, and this solved two problems at once! It brought the keyboard closer to her body, minimizing the “reach”, and also made room on the desk for the more effective laptop stand.
Zeena also discussed with Haumea the importance of taking “active posture breaks”. Zeena identified 5 different exercises, specific to Haumea’s posture deviations and discomfort points, that she could do throughout her work day. The recommended frequency was every 30 to 60 minutes.
After the Ergo assessment
Haumea received a written assessment report that included: all of her changes, the equipment suggestions (which were under budget!) and videos of the exercises. She spent only $377 on her new equipment – only 75% of the original budget.
Here are the results:
As you can see, Haumea has better foot support, a more neutral pelvic position, a more relaxed upper body, a better elbow/shoulder angle, and her neck position is significantly better as well
Zeena tracked Haumea’s pain levels across the 2 months from her ergo assessment to the time of publishing of this post. Haumea reported over a 50% reduction in her lower back pain as result of her workstation habits and set up!
Here are the results in Haumea’s own words:
The difference since working with Zeena has been significant. Before, I had a constant daily lower back pain that made it difficult to sleep at night. My neck and shoulder also felt tense and strained. It was tiring to be at my desk.
Zeena took a thorough assessment and was able to point out what seemed like minor changes in my posture that made a significant difference in how I feel.
I love the written report that has all the important info that I might have forgotten from our live sessions.
With a few minor shifts in body position that I never would have noticed or thought of myself, my body is actually relaxed and energized now, even at my desk.
My overall low back pain has subsided significantly and I am enjoying better sleep and more energy.
Solutions were surprisingly inexpensive and effective.. Some equipment recommended for me was a footrest, a vertical mouse, and a rolled towel for lumber support.
I’ve been doing the exercises recommended and taking breaks as suggested. My experience at my desk is now pleasant and completely different than prior to Zeena’s assessment.
I only wish I had done this earlier.