Zero Gravity Recliners Have Health Benefits and Roots in Space

Introduced over two decades ago, zero gravity recliners offer a unique resting experience. Like many of the conveniences and gadgetry we enjoy today, the idea for a zero gravity recliner is said to have originated as part of the space program. As part of the NASA biomechanical systems program, the zero gravity recliner has its roots in astronaut safety and comfort.

During the blastoff phase of any manned space flight, astronauts are exposed to tremendous gravitational forces. In order to help astronauts withstand the intense G forces, NASA has developed different seat configurations and padding materials. Visco elastic memory foam was part of this development process, though memory foam was never used as part of a space craft. In spite of being a failure as a component of manned space flight, memory foam is now used in all types of applications, including upholstered furniture and mattresses.

One of the many physical challenges faced by astronauts is compression of the discs that separate the vertebrae in the spine. Even for us earthlings, normal gravitational pressure of just over fourteen pounds per square inch can cause disc compression. While breaking free from the bonds of Earths gravity and at speeds of thousands of miles per hour, astronauts can find themselves exposed to over ten times the normal gravitational pressure found on Earth. The force of Earth gravity is so strong that a spacecraft would need to be moving at over twenty five thousand miles per hour, referred to as the escape velocity.

Zero gravity recliners tout several important benefits to these unique furniture pieces. The benefit most often mentioned is the effect on the spine. Sitting in a fully reclined position with the feet higher than the head can relieve pressure on the spine. Do not think of being fully reclined as laying flat in the recliner. The basic concept behind the zero gravity recliner is to place to body in a position such that compression forces on the spine are reduced to as near zero as possible. Achieving this state requires that the knees and hips be held at ninety degree angles.

With the feet raised above the heart, blood circulation to the legs changes. In a standing position, the heart must work harder in order to pump blood back to the heart from the legs. The heart needs to overcome the forces of gravity which naturally causes blood in the legs to pool. This is the same condition experienced by astronauts and pilots during periods of exposure to high G forces. So with the legs elevated, the heart does not have to work as hard.

A host of benefits are attributed to the use of zero gravity recliners. Along with relieving pressure on the spine proponents tout the ability of the chair to relieve muscle strain, increase lung capacity, reduce pressure on the heart and even raise blood oxygen levels.

Find Relief From Back Pain; Make Yourself Aware of the Solutions

80% of Americans suffer from back pain, and eight out of ten people will experience it at some point in their lifetime. It has become undeniably clear that back pain is very common for people all ages, and can happen to anyone.

Even with such a large population of people suffering, the percentage of those who are aware of ways to relieve back pain and prevent it in the future, are surprisingly low. Whether back pain is caused by sciatica, scoliosis, a herniated disc, or just simple stress, there are simple solutions people can take to find relief.

The most important part of ensuring spinal health is having strong spinal muscles to support your frame. Active forms strengthening exercises can rehabilitate the spine, alleviate and avoid recurrences of back pain, and reduce severity of future episodes. Acting as a natural stimulus to heal the back, exercise can keep the discs, muscles, ligaments and joints healthy.

While it’s true that active individuals are less likely to have an episode of back pain, it can affect all people regardless of their level of activity.

Another method of back pain relief is the use of ergonomic furniture and, a number of other products, which are designed specifically to place you in less compressive positions throughout the day. Functional furniture and products, such as a zero gravity recliner, ergonomic office chair, lumbar cushion or a supportive neck pillow can reduce back pain while driving, traveling, sitting at home, at work, and sleeping.

Products like the Self Inflating Back Rest and the Tempur-Pedic travel pillow are the only way for some commuters and travelers who suffer from lower back problems to be able to sit in chairs and actually get some rest during a hotel stay. There is a whole population of people who find work commutes and plane rides agonizing, they toss and turn in hotel beds, they can’t sit comfortably in restaurants, but when they discover the supports like those offered by Relax The Back, comfort outside of home no longer seems so daunting.

Sitting in office chairs for prolonged periods of time is also a major cause of back pain. Besides being uncomfortable, poor sitting posture can damage spinal structures and contribute to recurrent episodes of back pain over time. For those sitting at their desks for 40 hours a week and more, ergonomically designed chairs, such as the Lifeform chairs, which relieve stress on employee’s neck, shoulders and back and provide lumbar and lateral support to help posture, are a must to surviving the week.

You may even be contributing to your back pain when you sleep. Having the wrong mattress can aggravate existing aches and pains and cause new ones. Many sufferers of back pain have found that sleeping on a Tempur-Pedic® Mattress, which is made from pressure-relieving material that provides customized support, has greatly reduced the back pain they feel throughout the day.

Taking care of your back should be a priority! It is the platform from which your arms and legs work, and there are ways to help you function productively and pain free. Make yourself aware of the above solutions and the many others that exist.

For information on these products, or to find a Relax The Back store near you, or visit www.relaxtheback.com.  For more detailed information on back pain and spine strengthening exercises SpineUniverse.

Winter Sports & Whole-Body Care

Anyone who skis, snowboards, ice skates or plays ice hockey, knows that winter sports can be brutal on your body. The cold, wet conditions and frequent falling often result in aches and pains, if not serious injuries. Here is some advice for taking care of your body during the winter months.

1. Warm Up, Break a Sweat! A proper warm-up is a must regardless of the season, but is extra essential when it is cold outside. Cold makes the muscles and joints stiffer, which makes warming up more difficult, and injuries more likely. Gradually build up to vigorous activity, allowing your body to heat up and blood to flow first. A light sweat indicates that your body is warmed to the point where it can safely handle higher demands. It could take 5 to 10 minutes, or it could take longer, depending on your weight, size, and conditioning level. Just remember to warm up until you sweat.

2. Train Ahead – Significant injuries occur when your muscles fatigue. If you’re out of shape and don’t have a strong abdominal core, you might rely too much on your legs, tire your muscles out, and end up injured after a couple days in the snow. If you’re serious about hitting the slopes, prepare ahead of time with strength and endurance training. Pilates and Yoga are great for core strengthening. You might also invest in the popular exercise balls. Start training as early as possible for maximum endurance during your vacation.

3. Listen to your body. Spinal injuries occur when there’s an overload of spinal tissues; muscles, disks or joints, resulting in an associated spasm. Prevent a back injury by resting when you’re fatigued, and letting your muscles recover. If you’re sore from the previous day, it means your muscles are still healing. During this time, alter your activity, or lighten/avoid exercising. Make sure not to push too hard when your body is telling you to rest—that’s when most injuries occur.

4. Rest and Relax –To care for injured muscles, take anti-inflammatory medicine to reduce the pain, and try icing to directly reduce inflammation and soreness. Muscle relaxants can be helpful for acute muscle spasms of the neck and back. If you suspect you’ll end up tired and sore during your vacation, think ahead and pack hot and cold therapy, a Tempur-Pedic pillow for better rest or a hand held massager for comfort and stress relief.

5. Take your workout to go.  If your winter sport of choice is sitting curled up in a cabin, watching TV, you don’t have to miss your workout routine (sigh of relief, right?). Stay fit while traveling with portable fitness gear, such as Michael Sena’s Traveling Training, or a soft weighted ball . These tools are also useful if you plan on lounging for a few days or a week before starting your sport, and want to make sure your endurance and strength are up to par.

Source: Gerard Malanga, MD, Director, Sports, Spine & Orthopedic Rehabilitation,
Kessler Institute of Rehabilitation

RELAX THE BACK, the nation’s leading retailer of therapeutic and relaxation products, has almost stores throughout the U.S. To locate one near you, visit Relax The Back.

SpineUniverse.com is the world’s largest and most comprehensive online

resource for information on neck and back pain. For more information on

spine conditions, new technology, treatment and prevention of spine pain,

visit SpineUniverse

Zero Gravity Chair Review

There are millions of people around the world who suffer from back and muscular pains, tension and problems. Just think that one properly designed chair that they can have at home will reduce and possibly cure their aches and pains, making their life better, the lives of those around them more rewarding and the best part is that the treatment can be done anywhere and at any time. The Zero gravity Chair will be one of those products that you buy and then wonder how you did without it for so long.

Imagine that your back is so painful that you wake up several times in the night and have to relocate to the couch or living room so that you don’t disturb your spouse. You spend several hours trying to get comfortable again and all of that time you are in more pain and agony.

If you had a zero gravity chair you could recline it back and relax into it’s scientifically designed contours. When you raise your legs above the height of your heart, it will increase blood flow around your body and lower blood pressure too. This means you become more relaxed and therefore more comfortable. Many of the chairs also come with a detachable headrest so if you do have problems getting back to sleep, you can comfortably read or watch TV until you drift off.

Getting comfortable when you have back or musculoskeletal problems can be the hardest thing to achieve. With a zero gravity chair you can relax and have your whole body supported with full lumbar support, arm rests, head pillows and soft, moulded pads that cover the sturdy frame. The chair is designed to allow you to feel as if you are floating, held by an invisible force. This all over support and relief from pain will bring you hours of benefit.

Imagine relaxing in one of these chairs, floating, listening to your favorite music on your headphones. What can be more relaxing than that! All of the people who have tried the zero gravity chair have complemented them on how comfortable they are. Some of these people are not even back pain sufferers and were using the chair as a way to relax or enjoy their spare time to the maximum.

The zero gravity chair is for all, not just those who might need it most. Reading, watching TV or just chatting becomes bliss when using a chair that has been designed with the utmost comfort in mind.

Backpack Safety Facts

• A University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine-led team found that how loads are distributed under backpack straps may help identify the source of shoulder and back pain in children. The study, published in the December 5, 2005 issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, concludes that the average backpack load that children are now carrying should be reduced.

• A University of Michigan Study found that up to 60% of children will experience back pain by the time they reach 18 years of age.

• The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 7,277 emergency room visits each year result from injuries related to book bags. The CPSC also reports that backpack-related injuries are up 330% since 1996.

• Waist belts may cause forced excessive distribution across a growing pelvis leading to possible pelvic abnormalities. (Congress of Chiropractic State Associations and Prof. Mary Hickey Northeastern University, 2002)

• Roller backpacks may result in forward head and thoracic deviations just as severe as children carrying excessively heavy backpacks. Though the load of the backpack is no longer on the skeletal structure, dragging the backpack may result in rotary forces on the spine through the involved arm. (Physical Therapy Products, March, 2002)

• A study by Northeastern University (June, 01) reported that the average student has a VAS (visual analog scale) pain level of 4.3 with a high percent reporting pain in the range of 8-9. The students who wore an AirPacks backpack for six weeks had a VAS pain level of 1.8, a 50% reduction in pain.

• When 200 New England school nurses were surveyed, 66% reported seeing students with pain or injury that could be attributed to carrying backpacks that were too heavy.

• A study by Simmons College found that 55% of students carry more than the recommended guidelines of 10 – 15% (February, 2001)

Example: A child weighing:

– 50 lbs. should carry no more than 7.5 lbs.

– 80 lbs. should carry no more than 12 lbs.

– 100 lbs. should carry no more than 15 lbs.

– 130 lbs. should carry no more than 19.5 lbs.

– 150 lbs. should carry no more than 22.5 lbs.

Many children, teens and adults are carrying up to 40 lbs. and are potentially injuring themselves. LIT-FACT-3300 15.02.06a

Tips On Wearing Your Backpack Safely and Properly

• Distribute the weight evenly. Put the heavier items on the bottom to keep the weight off of your shoulders and maintain better posture.

• Wear both shoulder straps unless your pack is designed for use on one shoulder. Carrying a heavy backpack using one strap can shift the weight to one side, which can lead to neck and muscles spasms, low back pain and walking improperly

• Choose backpacks that have heavily padded shoulder straps and a lumbar support. Non-padded straps dig into the shoulders causing pain due to compressional loading of the acromio-clavicular joints and stress on the trapezious muscles.

• Choose a backpack that has a lumbar cushion. The lumbar cushion will redistribute weight to the lower extremities, creating a fulcrum that facilitates anupright standing position.

Back Pain Demographics

  • Experts estimate that as many as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives. (4)
  • According to data from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), low back problems affect virtually everyone at some time during their life and are the second leading cause of work time loss. (2)
  • #2 leading cause of doctor visits. Low back pain is second only to the common cold as a primary reason for visiting a physician’s office and are costly in terms of medical treatment, lost productivity, and non-monetary costs such as diminished ability to perform or enjoy usual activities. (2)
  • Surveys indicate more than 50 percent of working age adults experience low back pain and 15 to 20 percent of those people seek medical help every year (2)
  • #1 cause of disability for persons under age 45 (2)
  • 31 million cases of low back pain at any given time (2)
  • #1 for Orthopedic/Neuro-Surgeons/Occupational medical doctors
  • #3 cause for all surgical procedures
  • Americans spend at least $50 Billion each year on back pain-and that’s just for the more easily identified costs. (3)
  • Less than 1% of surgeries improve the condition

For back relief products visit Relax The Back

1. (AHCPR-Agency for Health Care Policies and Research, DEC. 1994)

2. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research Quick Reference Guide for Clinicians #14

3. This total represents only the more readily identifiable costs for medical care, workers compensation payments and time lost from work. It does not include costs associated with lost personal income due to acquired physical limitation resulting from a back problem and lost employer productivity due to employee medical absence. In Project Briefs: Back Pain Patient Outcomes Assessment Team (BOAT). In MEDTEP Update, Vol. 1 Issue 1, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Rockville, MD, Summer 1994.

4. 2. Vallfors B. Acute, Subacute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Clinical Symptoms, Absenteeism and Working Environment. Scan J Rehab Med Suppl 1985; 11: 1-98.

Experience the Zero Gravity Difference

The ergonomic experts from Relax The Back explain the healthy benefits of positioning the body into zero gravity. When you recline in a true Zero Gravity position, with your legs elevated above your heart and an open angle created between your torso and thighs, a number of good things begin to happen. This position – also sometimes called “90/90” because of the approximate right angles that occur at the hips and knees – immediately puts your back in the correct resting or “neutral” position, in which the S-curve of your spine is properly maintained and virtually all pressure on the lower back is relieved (as opposed to lying in a typical horizontal posture, where compression on the lower back can actually be increased by as much as 25 pounds). Since all our body parts are co-dependent, this Zero Gravity modification begins to have beneficial effects in other areas: lung capacity is expanded to ease breathing and boost oxygen levels, while circulation improves to minimize stress on the heart, which in turn leaves you with less muscle fatigue and a completely relaxed feeling overall. It’s no wonder that Zero Gravity reclining is recommended by many physicians and health care professionals, and it is the closest thing you’ll find here on earth to the weightless conditions of outer space.

zero_gravity_position

9 Ergonomic Tips for Office Chairs

Look for these ergonomic features as you compare office chairs.
1. Height Adjustment
Easily raises or lowers the seat to bring your hips and torso to the correct 90 degree sitting position appropriate for the level of your work area. With both feet flat on the floor and knees bent at a comfortable angle, your lower legs are supported without putting pressure on your thighs.

2. Angle Adjustment

Can be at the back, seat or both, and allows you to change the angle between your torso and thighs. Puts you in the correct neutral position to support and maintain the natural curve of your spine.

3. Seat Pan

The seat pan should be at least once inch wider than your hips and thighs on either side, and should not be too long for your legs. Office Chairs with seat slider adjustments can accommodate users of almost any side. A contour seat office chair is highly recommended for proper distribution of weight over the seat’s surface to reduce fatigue and leg pain and allow you to sit for extended periods.


4. Adjustable Tilt and Tension Control

Allows you to regulate the angle support, from locked in place to free floating. Especially useful for multi-tasking, and to help maintain support as you lean into/away from your desk throughout the day.
5. Backrest
Proper support can be achieved by height adjustment to the backrest of your office chair, or the backrest can be adjusted to support the contour of your back as well as your neck and shoulders.

6. Memory Foam

Energy absorbent memory foam conforms to your body’s contours providing gentle, virtually pressure-free support, thereby improving posture and reducing stress.

7. Adjustable Armrests
To achieve the proper neutral position for wrists and arms, consider these 3 factors: Height Adjustment helps relieve fatigue in neck and shoulders; Width Adjustment increases support in coordination with your shoulder span and the task at hand; Pivoting/Articulating armrests rotate or swivel, allowing you to maintain a relaxed position despite your movements.
Provides support to the lower back (lumbar region) which encourages correct sitting posture to reduce strain on the vertebral disks. Improves relaxation and prevents back pain.

9. Cervical Support

Offers support and relieves pressure on your neck and shoulder (cervical region) especially when leaning back. Support is provided by either an attached headrest or high back office chair.

How You Can Prevent Back and Neck Pain

As the owner of your body, you have as great an influence over your spinal health as your doctor does. Your doctor will help you get out of pain, but it’s up to you to keep the pain from coming back. By making some simple lifestyle choices, you can remove one of the leading causes of recurrent back and neck pain, poor posture. Incorrect posture. Slouching reverses the natural curves of the spine.

In general, the bad influences of age, heredity, or accidents are uncontrollable. Yet, these become small obstacles to long-term back and neck pain solutions when you take control of your posture. Furthermore, not just standing posture, for we sit, sleep, and recline up to 90 percent of each day, 365 days a year.

Posture and spinal healthResearch shows the positions we place our spines in during activity or when at rest, will be either beneficial or create harmful stresses on muscles, ligaments, discs, nerve tissue, and bone.

Prolonged slouching which reverses the natural curves of the lumbar and cervical spine, can cause damage to spinal tissues. Over the years, repetitive poor posture can cause discomfort, pain, and conditions that may lead to the need for surgery.
Sitting and spinal healthOver time, we can damage our backs by hunching over our work at the office and/or sitting slouched in an unsupportive sofa, chair, or recliner at home. Correct sitting posture will help you prevent pain from recurring.
Correct posture.The cervical and lumbar regions are curved inward and properly supported.

To protect your back while sitting:
Maintain your spine’s natural posture by resting your back against a firm backrest with lumbar support.
While at your desk, use inward adjusting armrests to support your body upright to reduce harmful slouching and to take the upper body weight off your wrists to help prevent repetitive stress injuries.
Adjust your chair height and position so you’re close to your work reducing the need to lean forward.
Keep your feet on the floor, or support your feet with a footrest to reduce seated pressure.