Category Archives for "Product Review"

a few months ago

Can Sports Apparel Improve Posture?

Today’s post is a guest post by Ivy Harper.  She takes an in depth look at sports apparel, and it’s potential to improve posture:

Proper posture gets a lot of attention in the world of sports, as poor body alignment can cause serious consequences in training or during a game. However, it doesn’t come naturally for many people especially with the nature of most jobs, and even athletes need some help. One exciting innovation that sports scientists have made are posture-correcting shirts that can improve sports performance.

Text neck

Image Source: Unsplash

A term coined by chiropractor Dean Fishman, ‘text neck’ is the pain felt in the cervical spine after slouching too much from looking at a mobile device. The human head weighs 10 pounds on average, but can feel as if it weighs up to 60 pounds depending on the angle of the neck when it is bent. This puts a lot of strain on the spine especially on the neck and the upper back.

Bad posture is an occupational hazard for athletes. They can also suffer from the syndrome, especially with lots of hours spent on the road and reviewing their performance on tape. Aside from these sedentary habits, Very Well Health adds that muscle imbalance, fatigue, and injuries lead to improper posture. Muscle spasms, for example, tend to weaken the damaged area over time, throwing the body out of symmetry. On the other hand, some athletes have a tendency to overwork the side of the body that they use the most and neglect the other—like a quarterback’s throwing arm. It can also put the alignment out of whack.

Posture shirts

Image Source: AlignMed Facebook

Posture shirts are not your average compression shirt as they’re considered medical devices. One of the more known brands is AlignMed which many athletes are starting to use. They include Kansas City Royals pitcher Greg Holland, and Washington Wizards center Dwight Howard, who uses it under his jersey. Although it is still a compression shirt, the AlignMed posture shirt is fitted with ‘neurobands’ that activate the muscle groups around the spine, particularly around the shoulders. When the neuroband technology senses even the slightest rounding of the back, it stimulates the muscles so that you can snap right back to proper posture. It’s similar to the wearable device Upright GO which we previously raved about here on VerticAlign. Posture shirts don’t do all the work but give you a literal tap on your shoulder (or your upper back) when your body is out of alignment.

Posture shirts

Image Source: Intelliskin Facebook

Aside from AlignMed’s posture shirt, other products have started popping up on the market as well. Underworks came up with their own version of the technology as well, with an additional band in the midsection to contract the abdominals.

Other sports teams and players have also looked into posture correcting technology by adding modifications to their apparel. In their article on the evolution of professional soccer kits, Coral details how Italy’s World Cup 2014 shirt had a special tape in the fabric that micro-massaged players. Its purpose was to speed up recovery and prevent muscle fatigue. This process helps avoid alignment issues.

Posture is extremely important in sports especially in terms of improving circulation, reducing pain, preventing injuries, and enhancing athletic performance. Right now, the science behind posture shirts still needs to be studied, especially its long term efficacy. However, testimonials from professionals look promising so it may not be a bad idea to invest in posture-correcting apparel.

Stay tuned for VerticAlign’s in-depth discussion of different posture correcting wearables. More products with such feature are still coming out on the market and they need to be put to the test!

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Upright GO is an Upright YES!

It’s a posture geek’s dream! I open my mail to find a little box. It seems innocuous, but BOOM.  Suddenly, I have in my hot little hands, the future of posture training.

I had the distinct pleasure of trying out the new Upright GO.  The Upright GO is a posture training technology gadget that is so small in size, it could easily go unnoticed.  But once it’s on your body, you will not forget it’s there. And, it has potential to be a game changer to your body’s alignment.

I spend countless hours preaching about how “sitting is the new smoking”. And how leaning over the computer screen is causing your neck and back pain. (And probably also your hip pain, knee pain and overall body discomfort.) It’s so easy to hunch. It’s much harder to sit upright. We actually have to “use” our bodies and muscles to remain upright. If you don’t do it often enough, these muscles atrophy which make it even harder to stay in good sitting position.

Enter: Upright Go.  A small wearable device that you place on your upper back area. It’s designed to “buzz” you when you fall out of good alignment. And let me tell you, it’s much more comfortable than mom poking you in the back to sit up straight.

Now wait.. You clearly can’t wear this all day. You have to bend over to pick stuff up, or talk to your kid, or cook healthy meals on your stove. So despite the fact that you can wear it all day, you shouldn’t actually have it set to buzz you all day long.

That’s where YOUR motivation comes in.  You link the device to a phone app and set the device on “training” mode, where it will buzz you for a short about of time.  This way you can make sure you’re at your desk and can schedule your “training session” for the valuable time that you are working diligently at your computer.  I found myself able to hold proper posture while typing at my laptop. I would lose position when my phone buzzed. So I got better at picking up my phone, and using it like I’ve already suggested in this previous blog post (I clearly wasn’t always following my own advice).

My favorite thing about this device was it’s ease of use and onboarding instructions. It arrived in the perfect little package, with super easy to follow directions. I downloaded the app, registered my account, and within 10 minutes I was able to test the device. I placed it on my upper back as directed, quickly calibrated it to know my ideal position, and then set a training session to test it out. When I was done ‘training” I switched it to “tracking”. In this mode, it tracked how well I was holding my posture, without the buzz that would come if I got up to use the restroom or make my salad.

I LOVED the progressive element of the training mode. It started with a short training time (10 mins) and incrementally got longer as the days progressed. This is exactly how this posture geek would recommend you ease into a more upright position. Your muscles need to get used to it! I believe that this device, paired with daily posture exercises/stretches done after your work day, will make for a winning combination.

The customer service was excellent, including follow up emails checking with me to make sure I didn’t have any questions. The app was quick and easy and integrated well with the device. It came with adhesives and offered ways for me to purchase more. I never had a reason to not use my Upright Go.

I forgot about it one day, but luckily remembered it before I headed into the shower.  This is the only “con” I can provide during this stellar product review. It’s not waterproof! Be careful not to wade into water with your Upright Go (it would soon become an “Upright No”).

Honestly if you sit at a day job (even if you stand), this product is very worth the investment ($99). Keep it at your desk, in it’s super slim case, and pop it on in increments throughout the day. Run competitions with your colleagues for motivation and challenge yourself to hold good posture for longer periods of time.

The combination of advanced technology, friendly interface, and gentle “mom-like” reinforcement, forces this Posture Geek to give Upright GO two enthusiastic thumbs UP!

Comment below if you’ve tried the Upright GO or have plans to in the near future… I am curious to hear what YOU think!

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How to Have Far More Fun By Sitting In This Funky Chair!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: sitting is the new smoking. We are living in a world where sitting, inactive, all day long, can kill your back, neck, spine, pelvis, knees, hips, shoulders and feet.  But you need to work at your computer! While a sit/stand desk is an option, you can still find yourself sitting far too long.  

So… you need a chair that can minimize the negative effects of sitting..

Luckily…. I found one for you!  In the past I have recommended the Gaiam Ball Chair.  I’ve been using the ball chair for years, but I like this one better and have swapped it out at my own work station.

Introducing the ErgoErgo Active Sitting Chair:

I love this chair for a few posture specific reasons. First, the backless design forces you to sit up straight and not lean back to get lazy. I also enjoy being able to spread my knees wide and feel unlimited to move my body in the lateral range of motion (no arms rests in the way!).

When you sit on it, you will find the chair tilts forward a bit.  This places the pelvis into an optimal position versus in the rounded (posterior) position which I find to be dreaded for the lower back.

When I used to sit on the ball chair, I found myself crossing my legs inappropriately and hunching over.  On the ErgoErgo, this is not possible!  The “active” part of the sitting won’t allow you to sit for too long in an incorrect position.

Now let’s talk more about the “active sitting” part of this amazing chair. The goal of this is to create movement in our day. This product does this and makes it fun and interesting.  You can rotate your pelvis in circles, side to side, back and forth. AND do it while keeping your hands on the keyboard the whole time. It felt amazing on for my spine. I found myself sitting in better posture for hours on end because I didn’t have to sit STILL.

To get a good idea on how the chair works, check out my youtube channel here.  I’ve demonstrated how this chair moves.

Now, to the one CON of this product: the height.  Unfortunately, unlike the ball chair where you can blow up the ball, the ErgoErgo chair cannot be adjusted for height. This doesn’t matter for me since I have a sit/stand desk and therefore can adjust my desk to the height that I need. But for the average consumer who has a fixed desk height you will want to make sure you can sit on this chair and still have your screen at eye height and you elbows flexed at 90 degrees for proper hand/keyboard alignment.

The ErgoErgo website claims that the chair shrinks a little when you sit on it; It therefore adjusts to average “chair” heights and can accommodate sitters from height 5’0” to 6’4”. To be honest, I find it hard to believe that this chair, without the normal ability to move it up and down, can fit this huge range comfortably.  However I do believe that if you fall in the 5’5” to 6’0” range you should be able to make it feel comfortable.

Like with any new desk product, you’re gonna want to ease into the use of it since you don’t want to shock your body and make it sore!

There is a kid version of the chair  You bet I will be ordering one for my kid, and wishing we could install one into every classroom in America. Why do some kids have a hard time sitting still in class?  Largely because their little brains and bodies were not meant to! This chair gives them the freedom to move and counteract the effects that sitting and technology are having on their little postures.  

I am in love with this chair and can’t wait to hear what you think.  You can order it here and I hope it gives you the freedom to get more activity and postural alignment into your sitting day.

 

In health and good posture,

Zeena

PS. What does your current chair look like? Feel free to send me a picture of you in your chair for my analysis! Especially if it’s fun and unique like the ErgoErgo…

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