a couple of months ago

BackJoy’s SitSmart… is it worth buying?

The goal of this blog is to provide you with authoritative information on how you can decrease your body pain with improved posture and alignment.  This mission includes giving my independent opinion on products in the marketplace that also align with this same vision.

One particular company got my attention a few years ago, because of their mission to change sitting posture habits. Upon first glance, Backjoy’s tagline had me hooked: “Change Your Posture, Change Your Life”.

Of course I had to investigate their flagship posture product, SitSmart Posture Plus.

At first glance, SitSmart looked brilliant. It helps to avoid a posture deviation called the posterior pelvic tilt.  This posture deviation happens when we sit for hours on end in a “rounded” back position.  

When we sit rounded like this, we begin to lose the natural curvature of our lower back (lumbar spine).  Our lumbar spine is supposed to curve backwards, the opposite direction from this picture above. Without this curvature, our glute muscles are no longer in the correct position to fire when asked upon.  Without our glute muscles properly working, the lower back muscles suddenly have to take over. These muscles were not meant to be as strong and powerful as our glutes. Suddenly our lower back starts to hurt.

The rounded back position also has the same effect on the upper spine.  It accentuates rounding and kyphosis, which creates a shortening of the lats (side back muscles), pecs (chest muscles) and facilitating a protrusion of the head.  This ends up leading to mid back and neck pain.  None of this is any fun, but it’s real, and a direct cause of our sitting posture.

The SitSmart device sits on a chair and promotes a better sitting position. The design is meant to pull the pelvis out of this rounded position and promote a more proper position of sitting high on the sitz bones (the bony landmarks at the base of your pelvis).

When I saw this image online, was thrilled and even immediately emailed some friends to encourage them to purchase one.  I contacted BackJoy, who was happy to send me a free version to review for my blog (and I’m independently reviewing this for no fee). 

So, does it work?

As much as I love the concept of something that automatically pushes the pelvic where it should be, I am saddened to report that in my opinion, Backjoy misses the mark.  I tried it on multiple surfaces, and felt very little “push” of my pelvis.  In fact, numerous times I found myself pushing against the product and rounding my back into the exact position I was NOT supposed to be in. It just didn’t provide enough “support” to really affect my sitting posture.

With any product or technology there is always the option of user “override”.  This happens when the user is able to complete the incorrect movement pattern despite the product’s attempt to correct it.  This is why I promote exercise and awareness as a better option for really affecting change!  At the end of the day, some products can really help.  Backjoy just isn’t designed to provide enough “push” and change to make it worth the investment.

If you are looking for a sitting option that will help you move out of this rounded position, my favorite is still the Gaiam ball chair (check out the blog post on this for more info). However the really true way to combat long term sitting posture is to not sit for that long.  Take breaks, move to a standing position, and do daily stretches to keep your pelvis (and back) happy.

Are there any posture products that you LOVE? I’m interested to know if there are any you can’t live without! Comment below.

a few months ago

Matt Hsu “The Hip Whisperer” Clears Up Confusion About Your FAI Hip Pain

Ever heard of FAI?

If you haven’t it’s ok.  Many of you out there can maybe relate to hip pain and the compounding effects of it on your ability to lead a carefree, pain free life.  If you sit all day at a desk, or you run marathons in your free time, you are at risk for a dreaded and painful syndrome called FAI.

Femoral Acetabular Impingement (FAI) Syndrome is a condition in the hips, and this diagnosis is getting a lot more attention recently.  When diagnosed with FAI, doctors will often recommended painful surgery but it doesn’t always address the root of the problem.  I am an advocate of doing everything you can  to avoid surgery, therefore I turned to the best person I know that knows about FAI and how to solve it.

Matt Hsu is the founder of www.UprightHealth.com (bio below), an amazing resource for all things pain, posture and alignment related.  I stalk him regularly and love surfing his YouTube videos.  I asked Matt to go on video with me to discuss the details of FAI and how the research is contrary to the surgeries being prescribed, and how exercise and muscle work seems to actually be a better solution.  

Matt and I connect on many levels.  We are both passionate about empowering people to solve their own body pain issues.  Here are some timestamped highlights from this inspiring interview so you can find the information you’re looking for:

1:45: Matt describes exactly what FAI is and some of the recent research behind it

5:02: Matt tells us the kind of people that can be affected by FAI (hint: if you’re sitting and reading this you will want to watch this part!)

7:15: Matt starts moving around to show us exactly where FAI pain might manifest (and has fun getting intimate with his camera!)

9:45: He explains exactly why saying the words “I can’t do that” can make your pain even worse.

10:39:  Matt’s FAI Fix program has a system called TSR.  Matt explains exactly what these initials mean.

15:55: Time to get moving!  Matt shows us how to roll the quads and the impact this can have on the hips

17:45: I love the stretch Matt demonstrates for the quads!  You need to check this one out as it’s very unique.

19:30: Matt shows us the “R” in TSR with an exercise that you’ve probably seen before but now has a whole new purpose.

21:20: Matt shares his own personal pain journey, which makes him the inspiration he is today.

Check out the video here.  If you prefer a written transcript, please go here.

Read a little bit more about Matt and his journey to starting his company:

Matt has helped executives, managers, and programmers of top Silicon Valley companies including Facebook, Apple, Google, and Quora. He’s worked abroad with key people at various top level Hong Kong legal, banking, and large retail firms as well as with motivated individuals in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He’s worked with Navy SEALs, former and current pro athletes in the NFL and MLB, physical therapists in the U.S. and abroad, and with a wide range of business owners, moms and dads, weekend warriors, and hardcore desk jockeys.

He co-created the FAI Fix, the world’s first online program dedicated to helping people everywhere understand and beat femoroacetabular impingement without surgery. He has been a driving force behind multiple online programs – like the Shoulder Fix – that have helped thousands of people improve their mobility and get their lives back.

His own battle with chronic pain from the age of 16 in his feet, knees, hips, back, shoulders, elbows, forearms, wrists, hands, and head gives him a uniquely thorough understanding of musculoskeletal pain, the ways in which it can undermine an entire life, and the mental and physical hurdles that keep people from getting out of it. Matt also spends a great deal of time poring through and critically reviewing medical research to ensure that his ideas and recommendations are based on solid reasoning. His perspectives give hope to people in pain.

The information in this video is invaluable for those suffering with any sort of pain in their hips.  I urge you to watch and take notes.  And get down and start foam rolling right away!  

a few months ago

“Take a Break” Technology That You Need to Download

It can happen to anyone.  You’re working away and totally into what you’re doing, suddenly 3 hours has passed and your body is aching, your mouth is dry, and your bladder is screaming at you.

Who has time to stretch, stand, drink and hit the bathroom when you’re under deadline?!

The side effects of this “work till you drop” lifestyle are simple: heart disease, weight gain, herniated discs, diabetes, chronic fatigue, low back pain, neck pain and diabetes… just to name a few.

No big deal.  Sitting is only considered the new “smoking”.

Yes I’m trying to scare you.  Is it working?

We all know we should take breaks from our technology on a regular basis.  What better way to take a break from technology, than to use technology to force us to take a break.  There are tons of companies trying to capitalize on this need, and a variety for formats that provide “take a break” applications.

First, I tried some applications designed to be used on my smartphone.  Right away I realized the flaw in using that platform.  When a notification went off I barely looked at it.  It was far too easy to ignore.

So I explored Google Chrome extensions. With Chrome being one of the most often used browsers across all platforms (over 60% or online surfers use Chrome), this seemed like the best tool.  Especially since you most often need to take breaks when you are actually at your computer, most likely sitting in a posture compromising position.

For those of you who don’t know what a Chrome extension is, it’s a application you can download into your browser. They are usually free and very easy to download and plug in.  You can visit the Chrome web store here.

Choosing the right application  can be  overwhelming, so luckily I did the work for you.  An awesome site called WomenLoveTech featured my article on this topic, and now I can share it with you.

Hold on I’ll be right back…..

And…. I am just back from taking a break forced upon me by Break Timer application.

Anyway check it out.  It will take 3 minutes to read and 2 minutes to pick one, download and get your work breaks automatically set.

Take a break!  Your body will thank you.