Sunday, July 31, 2016

Forearm angle, slouching, and vertical keyboards

First of all today, let's look at some of the stability problems with sitting, take especial note around 6:30 of the arm position comments.

Now the self-experimentation phase.  Sit in lotus, half-lotus, or indian position.  Sit up straight, with your arms turned upwards as in meditation.  Relax the spine without moving your arms.  I feel a bit of tension, like part of the body is hanging off another part, but I don't slouch much.  Now sit up straight and turn palms downwards and relax.  That tension doesn't occur, and I slouch forwards more significantly.  For me there is definately something to this hand posture affecting my shoulder and spine posture.

But for those of us that are stuck at a desk typing all day, is there anything to be done?

I've enacted phase I of the better desk sitting plan, my lotus bench:

The bench is a beast because we started with scrap barn wood, mostly 2x12s for materials, and assembled in rather a hurry.  I had a romantic notion that I was going to finish it in one evening and be back at work raring to go the next day.  In reality, exhaustion set in, and I stopped before making stupid design decisions in the interest of time.  It ended up taking a week, and my hubby finished it for me as I was too out of it by then to participate much, but he set it up while I was sleeping Thursday night and I've been using it since Friday (almost three days).  I do still need a big horizontal break at midday, but it is a vast improvement over chair sitting, and I think I can do longer shifts at work if I can stand the drive to/from.  (I've been working an average of 2 hours a day last week.)

I'm now considering phase II, which would better position my arms for a relaxed and upright spine: a vertical keyboard.

There are a few commercial options for a vertical keyboard:

The Freestyle2 keyboard with Ascent accessory:

I trust the Kinesis brand because I had very good results from their "Advantage" keyboard when I was having wrist mobility issues.  I think they have a pretty clear understanding of ergonomics.  The Ascent allows for multiple keyboard angles, and multiple distances between the boards, for lots of flexibility.  The price though is tough.  $119 for the keyboard,  (with longer cord) $219 for the ascent accessory.  But I suppose $338 is not horrendous compared to the competition, and I'd gladly pay the $299 to replace my ancient Advantage if having similar issues again.

The SafeType:

The SafeType has a Cornell study backing the claims on an early prototype, showing improved wrist posture and possible reduction in injury risk, but they only compared vs a traditional keyboard, and did no long term study, so the study is of limited use in picking an ergonomic keyboard.  The rear-view mirrors look like a useful feature, but the angle and distance are fixed, allowing no customization for different shoulder widths and such.  Refurbished price $189, new is $289.75 (on sale from $305)

The Yogitype has less hand separation than the other options, but has an adjustable angle, integrated adjustable forearm support, and a unique solution to the "I can't see the keys" problem.  On the backside of the board are unlabeled keys, on the front side of the board is a light-up key legend that shows you where the keys are and which you just pressed.  The marketing is heavily aimed at people who have never learned to touch type before, which implies that it has a pretty steep learning curve for those of us that can touch type on a traditional keyboard, but this is true of most radically different ergonomic keyboards.  It took a considerable adaptation period to adjust to my Advantage board, where I took an online touch type course to re-learn the key positions.  There is a note on their website that the arrangement of keys may not be optimal for programming as it is for word processing, which could be problematic for me.  USD price, $325.81, which makes it the most pricey of the three options.  It comes from europe so shipping may be an issue, and you might want Google Translate installed before proceeding to the "select options" page which is not in English.  

I've not committed to a purchase this time, still mulling it over.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hip roller coster

So, after my recent post about the Gokhale Method, I added an exercise to my PT routine to try rotating my hips so my tailbone pointed backwards while sitting down.  It felt kinda uncomfortable in my bad hip, but good on my back.

7/19.  While in the process of sitting down in my chair at work, something gave in my hip.  There was a brief intense pain, and a lasting dull pain.  Mobility in that hip went through the roof.  I was suddenly able to be much more active than before.  The hip rotation in my exercise became the most comfortable resting position rather than an effort.  All my regular pain points moved.  My leg was straight.

I considered that I’d need to restart my PT at the beginning before I developed new compensation patterns, but was too busy getting useful things done to get serious about it right away.  Did a little bit of my most routine PT.  Noticed especially problems with my asian squat, other exercises brought up new tense areas, but still doable.

I mowed, I cleaned the house, I did laundry, and I didn't have to stop because I was tired.  It was glorious.

7/22 After a day of sitting, and a quick demo to a friend of where my new squat problem area was, started to have moderate hip pain.

7/23 Had already decided to take a day of rest as the new pain areas were getting overloaded with the sudden change, didn’t want to compensate back into the old gait.  After sitting for extended lunch with company, started having intense hip pain.  Stretching, ibuprofen, and a nap helped, but sitting still uncomfortable, and standing tiring.  Following Mobility Wod videos for emergency PT, spending a lot of time horizontal.

Planning to call a professional PT on Monday.  Scoped one out with certifications I like, connected to a gym with more certifications I like, and in-network for my insurance.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Don't teach your child to be fat

A recent discussion on Facebook brought up several details in common between the childhoods of overweight people that bear mentioning to those trying to raise healthy kids.

Make time for dinner

Dinner time should be a family social occasion with food present, and let natural hunger dictate how much food is eaten during that time.  If the child can be excused to go play by wolfing down a measured portion, you're rewarding them ignoring hunger signals and cravings and forcing themselves to eat.  Schedule at least 20 minutes for dinner.  If your child doesn't have the patience to sit as long as the adults, set a time at which they will be excused, not a consumption requirement.

Don't clean your plate

If you have to, get a pet chicken or pig so the food isn't "wasted".  It is reasonable to ask a child to try a new food, but making them eat all of it isn't going to make them like it, and will teach them to try to eat without tasting.  It may be reasonable to reserve their plate in the fridge until they claim hunger two hours later.  Don't sweat unfinished food, a hungry child would have eaten it by now.

Don't leave out large volumes of food

When leaving out snacks for the kids when they get home from school, leave out measured portions, not large supplies.  If the kids have already developed mindless eating habits, it's very easy for them to just munch and munch in front of the TV or game console until you get home.  Consider if snacks are even necessary, talk to your child about how they feel after school, and if they are tired, they might try a nap rather than sugar/starch to regain energy.

Remember childhood pounds never go away

Fat cells can shrink, but never go away.  They're sitting there waiting to re-expand and fight fat loss for the rest of your life.  We don't want to be overly obsessed with thinness in growing children, they do need some fat for brain development and calories on board to support those growth spurts, but a trend of putting on excess pounds is not likely to stop without intentional intervention, changing habits and diet.  It may be easier to put on pasta every night when the child is old enough to start prepping dinner before you get home from work, but if that doesn't agree with your child's metabolism you may need to find other alternatives or upgrade your child's cooking skills.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Low calorie Avocado?

So, I was shopping, and there was a label above the avocados claiming they were a "low calorie food" which I thought was pretty odd, given that avocados are one of the highest fat foods you'll find in the produce section.  So looking into it:
40 cal or less per RACC (and per 50 g if RACC is small) (b)(2)Meals and main dishes: 120 cal or less per 100 g (b)(3)

Of course, the tricksy issue is that a RACC/"serving" is pretty ambiguous size.

An avocado has 227 calories in it, 167 calories per 100 grams, but only 50 calories "per serving".  So that means you get to eat 1/5 of a medium avocado per sitting to keep it within the official serving size.

But even with that serving size, 50 > 40, and 167>120 this is not a "low calorie food".  Read your labels, but also use your brain!

That said, avocados are a pretty good for you food.  They got fiber, they got fat, they have all the sorts of micronutrients expected from fruits and veggies.  The vegetarians like them, the low omega-6 eaters like them, the glycemic index folk like them, the alkaline diet folk like them, even the guy that thinks we should eat chlorophyll and absorb sunlight recommends them (and the avocado is probably why his followers are still alive.)  If you've got something against the avocado, you're in the minority.

So, have and avocado, but remember the calories count, it's not a free vegetable in your diet plan.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Modern furniture leads to modern posture?

I recently stumbled across the Gokhale Method.
“Most pain can be attributed to how we hold ourselves and how we move. Since we aren't born with a user’s manual, we rely on our culture to guide us.
About a century ago, our culture took a wrong turn.”
She seems to have some good points about there being evidence that people of modern western culture have a different posture than our ancestors or modern third world cultures.  I wonder though, if it is not so much our culture as our furniture.

Sit on the hardest surface you can find. Start sitting with your spine in an s curve, your shoulders relaxed and slightly forward.  Feel the discomfort of the surface, feel most of your weight on two little hip bone points.  Now shift to Gokhale’s recommended posture, roll your hips so your tail bone is sticking out behind you, and pull your shoulders straight and your spine tall.  Feel the discomfort of the surface under you.  Feel how the pressure has been relieved by being distributed over the leg instead of over one little point.

Modern furniture is made for modern posture, and reinforces modern posture.

Yet another reason to consider replacing my "ergonomic" office chair with a wooden bench, but I don't think I'll be buying the stretchsit cushion or balancing her special pillow on my head (if I want that kind of exercise, our ancestors taught young ladies to balance books up there.)