If you’ve ever moaned, “My back aches!”, you are not alone. Between looking down at computer screens at work and hunching over to stare at our phones, its not surprising poor posture is on the rise.
Over 80% of the world’s population experience back pain at some point during their lives. In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.
The pain is not usually linked to any life-threatening conditions, but its effect can be debilitating and distressing. 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?
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. Poor posture inflicts extra wear and tear on joints and ligaments, increases the likelihood of accidents and makes organs like your lungs less efficient.
Enter Upright, a wearable device that’s designed to train you to sit properly.
This little device attaches to your lower or upper back, and gently vibrates when you slouch reminding you to correct your posture. By nagging you to sit up straight, Upright hopes to be a daily reminder of the importance of a straight spine. The company originally raised funds on Indiegogo in late 2015, more than doubling its goal of $70,000. It has since gone on to become arguably the leading wearable device in this area.
Upright comes packaged in a smart little box. Inside you’ll find the small rubbery main unit, an Applesque charging cradle and cable, a large pack of adhesive pads and some alcohol wipes. The device definitely has a nice quality feel and is soft to the touch.
To start off, you need to download the Android or iOS app onto your smartphone or tablet and pair it with Upright via Bluetooth. It’s very easy to set up, and the app is extremely well designed, giving you clear, simple, step-by-step instructions. The app will also provide you with the option to view a series of instructional videos. It is worth spending an extra few minutes to do this, as the videos provide you with an overview of the basics.
The device attaches to your back with a hypoallergenic adhesive, which is velcro on one side and sticky on the other side. You will find 60 of these pads in the packaging, which should offer more than enough to get through the training program.
Upright monitors your posture via multiple sensors, and 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. At least, that’s the idea. The gentle vibrating is without noise but it is still heard, similar to a phone when its put on vibrating mode.
You have the option of attaching the little device to your upper or lower back, but it is recommended you start off with the lower back because this builds a strong core foundation. Upright is meant to be used while you are sitting, but for the upper back, which trains and strengthens your shoulder and upper back muscles, you can also use it for walking.
Reading through the Amazon reviews, I’ve noticed some users report problems with attaching the device and finding the correct spot. I did not have any of these issues, and did not even need to use alcohol wipes to get the single-use adhesives to attach properly. But maybe that’s just me.
One other thing you need to do before you start training is to properly calibrate the device. This again is a quick process and consists of sitting upright, and then slouching. This enables the device to learn your back and is important for successfully training.
You have the option of saving the calibration details, but I found that reattaching the device sometimes meant I would need to recalibrate, presumably because the positioning has changed slightly. Once you are calibrated and the training has started, you can close the app, or even your phone, and Upright will continue to work.
The app was notably fast in reacting to my posture changes, and there’s something pleasing about seeing the sad red face move its way up to a green smile. I found myself sometimes tweaking the sensitivity setting, especially at the start of a training session. If you find that Upright nags you too much, lower the sensitivity setting. If you find you are not being badgered enough, ramp it up!
This is not a wearable that’s designed to be worn all day. The reason for this is that in Upright’s clinical trails, they saw that bio-feedback creates a quick learning curve. The theory is that short training sessions translate into an upright posture in all positions: standing, walking, static and variable alike, without having to wear the device.
You start off by training for a few minutes a day. As your back muscles strenthen, the app will gradually lengthen the time of your training sessions. All the programs are tailored to your specific details. My program consisted of 24 sessions, starting with 5 minutes per day and building up to an hour per day. When you finish your training program, the company suggests continuing to use the device for 30-60 minutes per session 1 or 2 times a week.
The app records and stores posture analytics related to your daily activities using its three fundamental elements: an accelerometer, multi sensors and an advanced algorithm. In the training summary you can see how much time you were sitting with upright posture, how many ‘mini-sessions’ you split your training into, and how much further you have to go with your training.
Between sitting through meetings and working at a desk, it seems that most of my time is in a chair. Over time, this leads to poor posture. Strapping the little device to my back quickly made me realize just how often I slouch.
One of the biggest advantages for me was the fact that this is not something I need to wear and use all day to see benefits. Unlike most fitness trackers, the Upright device is something that you only need to train with for a few minutes a day.
Just a few sessions in, I found myself adjusting in my chair and sitting straight even without wearing Upright to remind me. There is definitely an effect, even after you’ve taken it off. Perhaps because I have developed a fear of the buzz that kicks in! Only time will tell, though, whether the effects are long lasting.
Correct posture is important. It results in physical health benefits and helps you feel more confident. Research shows that good posture releases hormones that positively influence your overall wellbeing in a similar manner to smiling and laughing.
By training your core muscles to sit upright, and longer each day, you will be working on creating a new lifelong habit that will not only have your friends say you look taller, but you will simply feel better.
And if you are still not convinced, the device comes with a 30-day money back guarantee and a 1 year warranty.
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