Device measures posture & core strength, helps all - from athletes to moms
(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Turns out, mom was right all along. As kids, most of us were reminded by our mothers to sit up straight and mind our postures. And now, a new device is taking over where mom left off - and could save this country billions of dollars each year in medical costs and time lost on the job.
“The importance of posture and understanding your position of the trunk is critically important” said Chris McKenzie, a Sports Medicine physical therapist at Ohio State University Medical Center, and a researcher who helped develop the device. “Everything seems to start at the core” he says, “and we’re finding more and more research that points to injuries, not just in the lower back, but in the knee, the hip and, as our research suggests, even injuries to the shoulder and the elbow.”
All because of poor posture.
To combat those problems, researchers here developed a small device that slips into a soft exercise belt and sits on a patients lower back. Then, as patients do certain activities, like exercise or go through rehabilitation, the device constantly measures their posture and beeps when they are out of line. That’s important, because the more upright we are, the more we build core strength in the muscles around our stomach and lower back.
“We started out looking at this device with professional baseball pitchers” said Ajit Chaudhari, co-director of the OSU Sports Medicine Movement Analysis & Performance Program and an assistant professor of orthopedics. The pitchers who lacked core strength and had poor posture “had fewer innings pitched through the season, more walks plus more hits per inning pitched” he said.
So, they went to work to address those problems. “We wanted to have a tool that we could take anywhere, that we could put on a person quickly, and then be able to give them feedback about how they’re moving their body” Chaudhari said.
People like Xander Uxley, a baseball pitcher who underwent surgery to fix an injured elbow. What Uxley didn’t know what that his arm wasn’t the only problem, his core strength posture contributed to his injuries as well. Even though he and his team worked on core strength, “we weren’t doing it right so, you can put all the ab workouts in there you want, but if you’re not doing it right, you’re not doing yourself any good.”
Now Uxley works with the posture device, called “Perfect Practice” and says it made a difference after his first work out. “I’m not slouching over, I feel myself more upright” he said, “It’s improved my walking and my posture tremendously.”
But the applications of the device go beyond athletes.
“We’ve seen it in the sports medicine side, but the more we’ve understood the science behind neuromuscular control, especially for the trunk, the more we’ve understood how this impacts, not just the athlete, but basically anybody” said McKenzie.
In fact, in one study, researchers recruited more than 400 firefighters and focussed their work out routines on building core strength. By the end of the study, they had reduced injuries to the firefighters by 42% and cut down on missed work by more than 60%.*
“Core strength is really important for workers in a factory, for people sitting at a desk, for moms carrying their kids around - for everybody” said Chaudhari.
A patent for the device is being finalized and researchers at Ohio State say it should be commercially available in the coming year or so. But until the device can do it for you, it might help if you remember and heed you mother’s advice, and mind your posture.
*Core strength: A new model for injury prediction and prevention, Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, April 2007. http://www.occup-med.com/content/2/1/3