Recently we tested the Upright Go Trainer with a couple of the osteopaths at Principle Four Osteopathy to see how it works and whether there is likely to be a benefit to both our asymptomatic and symptomatic clients. Check it out in more detail by clicking here.
The idea behind the upright trainer is that it is a small device that you place on your upper back between your shoulder blades around the region of T2-4 on the spine and you then link this up with your iphone or android and look to calibrate it with what you perceive as an upright posture.
The upright trainer can be set to monitoring mode where it captures the information relating to your upper back/neck posture whilst sitting and standing. When set in the training mode it will show you a nice little green image on your iphone when your posture is sitting in what could be described as the neutral zone. Once you begin to slouch, a timer is activated and beyond 5 seconds it will look to vibrate to alert you that you have slouched. The neutral zone is quite generous in that you can move in and out of a neutral posture so that you aren’t fixed rigid in one spot. The training aspect of the device can be undertaken for short periods of time i.e. 10 minutes, 20 minutes as required.
So the real question is, is posture important and will this device be of benefit to anyone? Before I answer this question I will discuss the idea of ideal posture. Ideal posture is some magical posture that we have all seen in text books and still/static images. We have all experienced an ideal posture at some stage of our life, however we rarely live life in just a static posture. This is probably one thing we need to be careful with should we be recommending the Upright Trainer. We do not want our clients to use the upright trainer and think that they must find the ideal posture and never move from it. The reason being that when we look at some of the risk factors for for musculoskeletal complaints from a work perspective, static, awkward and long duration can all increase ones risk of developing musculoskeletal strains and sprains. Therefore if we put someone in the ideal posture for a long time without movement, it is likely to be problematic.
So when might the upright posture trainer be useful? I certainly think those individuals who spend long periods of time sitting for work who present with musculoskeletal aches and pains that are perhaps linked to sitting awkwardly for long periods of time i.e. slouching, then the upright posture trainer would be a great tool to provide feedback for the individual regarding their posture. When used in training mode, much like other interventions that focus on behaviour change or even building capacity, the upright trainer could be used for short periods of time to assist in behaviour change and also slowly build up ones tolerance to improving their posture i.e. 5-10 minute training sessions 2-3 times per day. Rather than 3 hours of training which is likely to be extreme and result in more discomfort than the person was in before trialling it.
Now like anything we need to start with small frequent amounts and build up our capacity. We also need to educate the client that there is no such thing as ideal posture, but rather regular movement and variability around ones posture is important. Something like this is also likely to result in some physical effect feeling that is different to what the person normally experiences. Now this is not bad at all, it is just different to what they have been experiencing and we need to educate them on this.
Where I feel we might need to be careful with prescribing the upright trainer is for the client who is in acute pain. If they are in an acute inflammatory state, then implementing this device may not be appropriate as it may aggravate their condition. The individual who presents with chronic pain where there are more central mechanisms involved, a tool like this may actually contribute to fear avoidance behaviours as well as impact on their beliefs around pain and posture. So we must also be very careful in this regard.
Overall I think the upright trainer is a great device and whilst not the solution for everyone, it will be a great device to use for training and education in the right person.
This blog post was written by osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy and Corporate Work Health Australia. Principle Four Osteopathy is located at 178 Collins St, Melbourne City CBD 3000. Find out more about our businesses at www.principlefourosteopathy.com and www.corporateworkhealth.com.au.