Using Technology To Help Chronic Back Pain: A Physical Therapist’s Thoughts on Lumo Lift

lumo lift back pain posture

I was fortunately gifted a Lumo Lift a few weeks ago. Lumo Lift is a small device that clips onto your shirt and it uses subtle vibrations to remind you to straighten up when you slumping into poor posture. You can also customize your experience—from a 3 second vibration delay to 10 minutes— set goals, and track your physical activity through the Lumo Lift App. I instantly took it out of the box, downloaded the app and followed the simple setup instructions. I wore the Lift all day for three consecutive days and tracked my steps per day and posture. Then I passed off Lumo Lift to one of my patients suffering from chronic low back pain.

Why Exercise Isn’t Always Enough For Back Pain

I often tell my patients that they need to incorporate a systems based approach to stopping their low back pain.  Specific exercises are important to gain the flexibility, strength and coordination needed to facilitate proper posture with sitting, standing, bending, sports performance, etc.  However, my professional opinion is that exercise alone does very little to keep lower back pain from reoccurring.  

Ultimately most chronic back pain cases persist because patients are constantly causing irritation to their lumbar spine without realizing it. Poor posture is the number one cause of back pain. Bone spurs and disc bulges are now largely believed to be predictable responses to the way we distribute forces across our spine.  Research tells us that sitting in a chair and slouching puts a lot of pressure on our spines. Not surprisingly, most patients with back pain say that sitting causes more pain than standing.  

The Patient’s Result

My patient with low back pain wore the Lumo Lift for five days and very surprised at how often he was falling into poor postures. He believes that the gentle vibration from Lumo Lift has in fact decreased his lower back pain and made him more mindful of his positioning.  

I plan on continuing to send patients home with Lumo Lift.  I always tell my patientsit only takes one unfortunate episode of slouching or bending over the wrong way to set off an episode of acute back pain.  

Lumo Lift seems like an easy, consumer friendly way to help reinforce proper static seated and standing postures.   

Stop “Hanging Out” on Your Joints

thoracic and neck posture

Growing up, our parents and teachers nagged us to sit up straight. And they were right to do so. I see people hanging out on their joints all the time, instead of utilizing their postural muscles to keep them upright. Improper posture not only puts excessive stress on your joints but also your ligaments and muscles, too. Over time, this could result in damaged joints, increased pain, or poor movement patterns. Although we know it’s important to have proper posture, why is it so difficult to do? Our lifestyles and technology work against our efforts to have better form. In this post, I’ll focus on our lifestyle choices that impact our joints and will post a follow-up blog post on how technology impacts our joints.

Shoes Impact Foot Muscle Development

We start wearing shoes before we can walk causing us to never develop the muscles in our feet. The benefits from the support provided by our shoes is offset by the lack of development in our foot muscles resulting in flat, unresponsive feet. Collapsed arches can occur through “hanging out” on the arch to hold your body weight up. This will stretch the ligament supporting your arch, eventually resulting in a flat foot. This why a lot of people are not ready to transition to “barefoot” running or a minimalist shoe because they can’t control their feet.

foot posture collapsed arch

Knee and Pelvis Lockout

At the knees, a person can lock their knees out into hyperextension causing posterior knee pain. I commonly see people hang out on their hips to the point of pain or discomfort and then when that occurs they switch over to their other hip until that one hurts.

knee posture hyperextension unlocked

In addition to their knees, people also lock out their pelvis in an anterior tilt thinking this is good posture until their back hurts, or they posteriorly tilt, sitting on their sacrum (a non-weightbearing bone) until their back hurts. Our lifestyle of sitting in our car, at desks or in front of the table at dinner time coupled with improper posture can lead to hip and back pain. Moving up to the thoracic spine where people hunched over and it looks like gravity is just beating them down. Since everything we do is in front of us, we let our shoulders fall forward, which perpetuates the issue at the thoracic spine, followed by protruding the neck and extending at the base of our skull just to look forward!

hip posture

Improve Your Posture Today

Although it’s easy to fall into bad posture patterns, there are many exercises that can help people of all ages improve their posture, awareness, and to combat the technology and lifestyles we have been enjoying. Here’s an exercise you can do today to improve your posture:

posture ergonomics kona hawaiii

  • Find a bare wall and place your low back flat against it, bringing your feet away from the wall to make this easier.
  • While holding the low back flat, bring your shoulders and head to the wall. Do this by bringing the shoulders down and back and performing a chin tuck at the neck.
  • Holding this for a count of 10 seconds for 10x is a good way to turn on the postural muscles and place you in a better position.

Read this post to find out how to make free and cheap workplace ergonomic improvements. Give us call or email us if you would like to work on your posture and we would be more than happy to assist you on your journey!