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Back Pain - Ergonomic Relief & The Core-Flex™ Chair

Updated: Aug 13, 2023

Problem: Back Pain (insidious or acute) - Spinal injuries

Caring for one’s back in this unprecedented time is no easy task. Lives have been turned upside down and people are working to find a “new normal”, under severe constraints. People have been forced into “physical lockdown”, in their homes, and these are reasonable actions for the health and safety of everyone while the medical field works to protect Americans. However, back pain, whether acute or insidious, is a condition that patients now face with an ever increasing uphill battle trying to find balance between their work lives and their families. Forced into working from home (WFH), under remote conditions and strained family life, patients are experiencing even more compromising physical conditions, of which their “home offices” were not originally conceived or designed for. Patients are trying to find a nook or corner, in their homes, so they can resume some semblance of a work life and balance that against the presence of their family and personal responsibilities which can be distractions to productivity. As patients begin to establish a work life, at home, they are faced with the ergonomics of their home “work spaces”, and an 83% increase of sedentary job positions, since the 1950’s ( American Heart Association - Ergonomic trends ). In light of the ever increasing sedentary lifestyles, most patients will make do, setting up a workstation, while not having the time to truly evaluate a safe and healthy ergonomically designed work space.

Solution: Core-Flex LifeForm Chair (Core-Flex Technology)

Much consideration goes into designing an ergonomic workstation and the office chair is, and should be, at the center of that design. Patients will spend an inordinate amount of time, possibly compounded by a sedentary lifestyle, in the chair they choose, to WFH.

“The overall goal for sitting posture is the same as the goal for standing posture: to attain a stable alignment of the body that can be maintained with the least expenditure of energy and the least stress on body structures” (Levangie and Norkin: Joint Structure and Function, 5th Edition).

Additionally, “In a way, sitting postures are more complex than standing postures. The same gravitational moments as in standing posture must be considered, but, in addition, we must consider the contact forces that are created when various portions of the body and amount of support provided to various portions of the body by the chair or stool may change the position of the body parts and thus the magnitude of the stresses on body structures” (Levangie & Norkin: Joint Structure and Function, 5th Edition).

When evaluating a chair for a home work-space, or even for the field office, several constructs should be considered, and influence the decision when choosing a WFH office chair: muscle activity, spinal intradiscal pressures, current and past history of injuries, lifestyle, poor posture, quiet standing and sitting mechanics, along with seat interference pressures. With the current pandemic, these considerations are not what drive the set-up of a patient’s work-station at home. But, they should be! Ergonomics, combined with these constructs, should drive the discussion of how best to set up and establish home workstations.

The Core-Flex Lifeform Chair is an unprecedented design for the reason that it facilitates the body’s own natural rhythms of shifting a patient’s center of mass (COM), undetected, within the axial skeleton. This basic biomechanical design allows the body to follow the natural axial trunk sway oscillation cycle, offloading, while seated, displacing weight by shifting it from left to right, effortlessly, with the split-paddle design cushioned seat which replicates the natural act of walking, during the gait cycle. Consequently, the resultant action of fluctuating side to side, within the vertebral column, spinal cord and pelvic regions, where concentrated forces act on these structures, allows the gravitational force coupled with the normal force of resistance upwards, from the ground, to be displaced, organically, leaving the patient to move about with enhanced ease. Additionally, the unloading which occurs specifically at L3-S1 vertebral segments, reduces the risk of continued compression, as the patient, inadvertently will find themselves subtly shifting in the seat, in an almost “walking” sequential movement pattern. Additionally, the arm rests, chair back, and height of the chair are adjustable to meet a patient’s precise anatomical measurements.

As neuromuscular rehabilitation specialists, we should be committed to educating our patients, not only instructing them on their rehab protocols, but also, as a member of their rehabilitation team, alerting them to injury prevention, spinal health, and primary prevention techniques, of which an “Ergonomic Assessment” of their homework-space would contribute positively to their overall well-being, over time. Ask your patient, “Is it better to take positive action upfront regarding your health or do you want to end up paying on the ‘backend’ of the thousands of dollars in medical bills and doctors’ visits which would stem from unhealthy daily habits, compounded by the negative insidious effects of time?”

On a more personal note, I write about this office chair for the reason that I DEEPLY believe in its design. I am a woman who is active doing Pilates, walking, and dance in my life because my body needs it to be alive and healthy. Several years ago, when I began my doctoral program, I went from moving and dancing almost daily to sitting, at my desk, or at school, in a poorly designed office chair, for well over 16 hours, almost daily, in the beginning of my didactic program education. By the second week, of my first semester, I LITERALLY could not walk up the stairs without excruciating pain on my right side, from my shoulder through my back, pelvis, leg, and foot. Sitting, for extended periods of time, was slowly “killing” me. I had an old injury, a partial bulge at L3-L4, but it could not be the cause of the excruciating pain I was suffering from. I was living a pain-free life, prior to the start, and cared meticulously for my spine and the supporting musculature. Inadvertently, I came across the Core-Flex LifeForm Chair during one night of the many long hours of research and writing, I was conducting. I watched the 6-minute video, in the early morning hours, knowing and understanding the replication of the ambulatory mechanics, and located a store, in Miami. I went that next day, sat in the chair for about 10 seconds and purchased it INSTANTLY! The relief from the biomechanical muscular pain was instantaneous! It made sense! I understood how and why it was designed. Instantly, I calculated how many days (and hours!) I would be sitting in that chair, multiplied that number by the 3 years for my program and then divided the $1800.00 price tag by those remaining days (customers can pre-order from the website for a lower cost, but, I NEEDED that chair immediately). LITERALLY- the cost, per day, was less than $1.72. Naturally, and intuitively, I became my own patient, as time went on, and examined each muscle and its actions and innervation, the complicated psoas-QL muscle complex, and how best to rehabilitate my own injuries, both old and acute. As a Pilates-Based Physical Therapist, utilizing Joseph Pilates' specialized equipment, I became my own lifeline to healing my injuries, as well as one of my closet colleagues and cohort, a remarkable massage therapist turned physical therapist, Dr. Christie Castellanos, PT-DPT, LMT.

Special note: I do NOT represent any company or benefit, in any way financially, from my story or my professional recommendation.

Dr Erica Nelson, PT-DPT, MSSM, BSc, MLD

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