Back pain products are flooding the market and promising to banish back pain from the world. While there is no one cause or cure for all back pain, much of the pain felt today can be attributed to poor posture. A lifetime of stooping, moving improperly and using all the wrong muscles to hold yourself up can lead to muscular and spinal pain over time.
There are a number of products available that address posture – belts, braces, tapes, lumbar supports and even clothing. The best posture correction products go beyond facilitating alignment of the spine; they help to raise your awareness of how you hold and move your body. By teaching you how to have better posture, these products offer long-term benefits and don’t require lifelong dependence on their use.
Correcting posture is harder than it may seem. Reminding yourself to sit and stand up straight occasionally may not be enough; you may find that, as soon as your attention turns elsewhere, you resume your distorted posture. This is largely due to muscle memory. When you sit stooped or hunched over, your shoulder and pectoral muscles are shortened and tightened while your back muscles are overstretched and disengaged. Over time, your brain learns to automatically fire signals to muscles that are used habitually during certain actions, like sitting. Your brain automatically tells your pecs and shoulders to tighten and disengages your core and upper back muscles, since that is what it has learned to do.
It is possible to retrain your body to have correct posture, but it takes time and commitment. A product designed not only to facilitate alignment but to increase your awareness as well may help you reach your goal.
A new product about to hit the market called the LumoBack promises to raise your body awareness. Unlike a brace, belt or support, the device doesn’t physically encourage alignment; it relies solely on its capacity to inform you of when you’re not sitting or standing properly.
The LumoBack consists of a thin, flexible sensor attached to a belt that you wear on your lower back. The device is discreet due to its small size. The sensor detects spinal movement and, when improper alignment occurs, the sensor lets out a gentle vibration to inform you that your posture is poor. The sensor can even detect postural problems of the shoulders and head such as forward head, since problems in these areas affect the greater spinal unit from top to bottom.
In addition to the sensor, LumoBack also includes an iPhone and iPad app that provides visual feedback on your posture. The app tracks your position throughout the day and night. This tracking allows you to assess improvement over time and to see what activities tend to lead to bad posture. The production team is working on developing apps compatible with other mobile devices.
LumoBack is currently being funded on Kickstarter.com, a site that allows the public to donate to or invest in a product. The production team of LumoBack has already reached their $100,000 goal; the price of the product once it is on the market is not known, but a $125 contribution to the project on Kickstarter will get you a LumoBack (the product would not ship until November 2012 when production would begin turning them out).
LumoBack is one product worth keeping track of. It already has the support of a number of backers and has won awards for ingenuity. Products that increase your awareness of posture give you the power to reduce mechanical back pain. For more on LumoBack, see http://lumoback.com/.