“Sit up straight!”, “Don’t slouch!”. We’ve all heard these words from our mother more than once while we were growing up. But why is posture important?
The term posture is used to describe how your body is positioned when you’re sitting, standing and lying down. Good posture means your bones are properly aligned and your muscles, joints and ligaments can work as nature intended. It means your vital organs are in the right position and can function at peak efficiency.
One in two Americans have a musculoskeletal condition, costing costing an estimated $170 billion in annual treatment. Expenditures in lost wages are estimated to average over $850 billion.
Did you know that just fifteen minutes reading or typing when using the wrong positions exhausts the muscles of your neck, shoulders and upper back?
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Good posture is a way of doing things with more energy, less stress and fatigue. It portrays a more confident image, breathing becomes easier and deeper, it helps your muscles and joints, it nurtures a healthy spine and it improves circulation and digestion.
We’re a health conscious society today and good posture is a part of it. Even for younger people, how you carry yourself when working, relaxing or playing can have big effects. To help you improve your posture, we’ve pulled together a list of wearables to help train your body into sitting properly.
Zikto is a virtual coach that analyzes your natural walking movements and sends a gentle vibration alarm to your wrist when imbalance is detected. It can also be used as a basic activity tracker on the top of the call/sms information functions.
While the device looks and functions like a standard fitness tracker, there are a few unique functions which make it different. As we walk, our arms swing in a symmetrical motion to maintain optimal body balance. Zikto features a gyroscope that detects subtle variations in this motion, together with an accelerometer that measures the swing speed at which we are walking. Based on these measurements, the tracker gives a gentle reminder with a vibration on your wrist when you have bad walking posture, such as looking at a smartphone, putting hands in pockets, or hunching your back.
Zikto Walk also detects your body balance. Normally, you wear the device on your preferred side. If you wear it on the other arm once a week or month, Zikto Walk collects and compares data from both arms. It then isolates core areas of the body that need correcting and recommends various exercises to strengthen core muscle groups to avoid further complication or injury.
The device, of course, features some basic functions. This includes keeping tallies on your steps, calories, distance travelled and hours slept. The tracker also alerts you to any calls, texts, and notifications so you never miss a thing.
UpRight is a small, comfortable and discreet device that attaches to your lower back with a hypoallergenic adhesive. The wearable constantly monitors your posture via multiple sensors, and gently vibrates to alert you to correct your body alignment the moment you start to slouch. This essentially helps to gradually mend bad postural habits, which can ultimately help to prevent back pain.
The app provides you with a variety of training programs to improve your spinal strength and to encourage better postural habits. You start off by using it for 15 minutes per day, and as your back muscles strenthen, gradually lengthen the time of your training sesssions.
The app also records and stores posture analytics related to your daily activities using its three fundamental elements: an accelerometer, multi sensors and an advanced algorithm. There is a social element as well.
Lumo Lift is not your average wearable although it does track steps taken, distance travelled and calories burned. This gadget tracks core position, upper body position and other nuances of posture.
The Lift is made up of two tiny devices, the tracker and a small, square magnetic plate. The polycarbonate tracker houses the internal components, while the plate holds the Lift in place on your clothes.
According to Lumo, the Lift works by “detecting curvature at the top of your spine, in addition to the positioning of your shoulders, chest, and upper back.” Using angle displacement as a measure, the biomechanics monitoring sensors in the device allow for the Lumo Lift to know when your body slouches, and gently vibrates to let you know.
Prana is the first wearable which combines breath and posture tracking to help you make the most of your sitting time. Building on medical studies and ancient Yoga traditions, Prana supports the interconnection between good breathing and good posture for many healthy benefits including reduced stress, better focus, and less back pain.
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This little disc, that clips to your waistband tracks the way both your diaphragm and chest move in and out while you breathe and the position of your body. When you sit, Prana analyzes your breath patterns and posture, providing you with a ‘quality of breathing score’ and then urges you to make changes through a series of creating patterns, basic movements and simple games. You select a pattern which best fits your health goals, and Prana actively guides your breath.
Prana can also send occasional push alert reminders to breathe or sit better. When you walk, Prana automatically switches to standing mode where it functions as a traditional step tracker.
Most wearables determine posture via devices fixed on your wrist or clothing. Alex, on the other hand, is different because it sits lightly on the back of your neck.
Alex can track the angle of your neck and the position of your head, relative to your body. This means it can tell if you’re looking too far down or if you’re holding your head too far forward. When you adopt poor posture for more than a few minutes, Alex vibrates gently, encouraging you to improve.
The accompanying coaching app allows you to monitor your posture in real time. The app also provides graphs that track your progress toward improving your posture. The feedback settings let you set the length of time before Alex alerts you to poor posture, the angle at which it determines your posture to be poor, and the strength of the vibration.
You can store up to 4 weeks of posture data on the device with all of your posture progress stored in the cloud.
Darma Sit Smart Cushion
Darma, a Palo Alto-based startup, brings us a gadget that is slightly different from other posture devices covered in this article. The Darma Sit Smart Cushion looks like a normal seat cushion, but is fully integrated with a corresponding app to provide the user with actionable data about their posture.
The smart cushion features a memory foam pad integrated with fiber optic sensors that monitors and alerts the user via a gentle buzz on the cushion or a phone notification of incorrect posture. It will also gather data on your heart rate, stress levels and respiration levels. As the app collects data over time, it also suggests customized breathing exercises and stretches. The cushion also assists in the relief and treatment of lower back pain and numbness, and reduces pressure on the coccyx, tailbone and hip bones while sitting for long hours.
The durable battery saves your time on charging. The cushion lasts an impressive 2 weeks before needing a recharge. The company says, the patented Fiber Optical Sensor Technology enables the data measurements to reach medical level accuracy, with fast and reliably detection.
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