A few years ago, I swapped my over priced ergonomic chair for a bright pink bouncy yoga ball in hopes of alleviating lower back pain that came with the territory of being glued to a screen for up to 12 hours a day. I assumed it was my posture and the yoga ball was the key to “engaging my abs” and preventing me from slouching. But after a few weeks, I somehow managed to figure out how to cheat “the ball.”
Bad posture — we’re all guilty of it — can certainly lead to back pain and eventually headaches. And solutions are tricky — ergonomic chairs and desks are great but I rarely work in the same location all week long.
Wearable solutions seem like a logical fit, but do they work? A student at Carnegie Mellon University, Tobias Sonne has designed a set of “Posture Suspenders” that alert the user with a buzz when he is slouching. Unlike the current products on market that use an accelerometer, Sonne’s device takes advantage of the variable resistance of stretch conductive fabric. The advantages are two-fold: First, the conductive fabric is certainly less expensive than an accelerometer (although long term wear-and-tear may be an issue) and second the user doesn’t have to continuously calibrate the wearable device.
Personally I’m not keen on suspenders but if this could be easily integrated into an undergarment, it may be more wearable. I do question whether a constant nagging reminder to sit up straight genuinely leads to behavioral change.
Me — I still sit in a rather contorted manner every day but I’ve learned to get up every hour or so and now prolifically practice pilates — and my back pain seems to have miraculously disappeared (for now).