Well, it's been more than two weeks since my last post, but that's actually because I've been pretty busy -- and that is a good thing! Around the time I wrote the other two posts, I was in so much pain, I really wasn't as productive as I'd like to have been, and believe me, this is much nicer. I've actually just wrapped up one side project and am getting very close to a stable release on my primary work project, but all that is for another post.

And all in all, I believe I have my new work setup to thank for my increased productivity. My back is not magically healed, but it is definitely better. I'm still at my computer for 10 or more hours each day, but now when I get up, I don't have to spend a few minutes letting my spine re-align itself. I did also visit a chiropractor friend of mine, but he said no prolonged treatment was necessary in light of the other changes I'm making. He recommended I come into get adjusted whenever something is seriously out of whack and he also suggested some stretches and exercises I can do on my own. I'm still confident I have herniation from my now-18-year-old injury, but didn't want to fork over the cash to get an MRI to confirm what I already know.

Anyway, after my last post I still wasn't perfectly pleased with the setup I had created for myself. I lowered my desk to accommodate the stools I had, but it was too low to keep good posture. And then, when I grew tired of sitting in the stool and wanted to stand, the desk was WAY too low. Also, from what I read online, neither of the two stools I had were a good height for me. So, fortunately, I tested out a saddle stool Mark Rippetoe used previously at my gym. This one (SAV-015-B) extended up to 30" (in my experiences, it's actually taller -- see measurements below) and had a much better designed seat. So, I borrowed his for a few days to test it out and take some measurements. I calculated the optimal height for my desk and monitors such that nothing really needed to change when I would switch from sitting to standing. Once I had some measurements, I ordered my own stool and was all set to custom build some blocks for my desk and a new "hutch" for my monitors. I got in touch with my favorite craftsman and overall handyman Randy Blair to get his opinion on what kind of wood to use so it wouldn't look like I had lumber sitting on top of my desk, and he actually ended up just going home and building me the pieces I needed (the nerve of some people :-)). I sanded down everything and had Cassie help me pick out some paint colors and voila!

Final Desk Setup

I'm very pleased with how it looks, my back is pleased with how it feels, and my productivity is pleased with the way it works!

In the end, here are some current measurements in case it helps anyone else out:

  • I'm about 5'10" (5'11" in shoes)
  • I have about a 31" inseam
  • I have the saddle stool set slightly below its max height and it measures 32" to the top of the back of the seat (under no load; it compresses when I sit in it)
  • The blocks under the desk are 12-1/4" tall
  • My desk is 29-7/16" high
  • That makes the total height of my desk off the ground right at about 42"
  • The monitor stand is 6-1/4" tall
  • Right now, the tops of my adjustable monitors are 20-1/2" off the desk (62-1/2" off the ground)

Now, the monitors are actually slightly below eye level at the moment. I settled on this height because its perfect for when I sit (btw, when I sit, I'm about 2" shorter than when I stand). And then, when I stand, it's still comfortable while allowing me to look out the window behind my monitors. B-)

So, hopefully this all helps someone out there and also hopefully this is my last post or dealings with any of these issues related to my back pain. I'm looking forward to cutting back on the work hours in the coming months, and hopefully also sticking with these stretches/exercises to keep my back healthy and functional for years to come, but I feel a lot better knowing that even when I do have to work long hours, I can do so in a position that keeps my back from getting worse and worse.