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Unread 07-15-2010, 07:07 AM   #1
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Lower back pain

Ive been playing (and suffering) for years on my lousy computer chair and i think its time i did something about it . Should I get a specific guitar chair? wedge cushions? I heard wedge cushions are good cause they force you to lean forward thus relieving the stress on your back. I already have a footstool, but my computer chair is definitely not helping me at all . Thanks in advance guys

P.S. I didnt know where to post this. If this is in the wrong section, I apologize in advance and ask for it to be moved to the appropriate section. Thanks again everyone.
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Unread 07-15-2010, 07:40 AM   #2
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I highly recommend you read this book about back pain. Amazon.com: Healing Back Pain (9781559275873): Dr. John E. Sarno M.D., Dr. John…

It has changed my life for the better. I feel stronger than ever.

This is his website Healing Back Pain, Back Pain Relief, Tension Myositis Syndrome, Dr. Sarno
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Unread 07-15-2010, 10:09 AM   #3
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I don't have this same issue, but I am using a computer chair (just cut off the arms so I can sit and play comfortably) and a footstool. This may be beyond what you are sitting on, maybe some sort of body exercise or even stretching will help wit this? I do yoga almost every morning for 30min (Power Yoga Total Body with Rodney Yee), and I can't say I have ever had any pains in relation to this.

Either way, yoga is good for the body and the soul
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Unread 07-15-2010, 10:30 AM   #4
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I can give you a little bit of advice on ergonomics.

Ok, first some anatomy, I'll probably .... up on this because I don't know all the English terms.

But you have your back (the left side here is your back, the right side is your front.)

Basics:
Ok, so you're sitting, lifting or whatever, all the force of your upper body (+any objects you're lifting) will push on the part where your spine connects to your hip-bones.
Now, between the pieces of bone your spine is made of are pieces those pieces (shown WHITE in the image.)

Now, it's important to always have your back straight! (while sitting, lifting, everything.) (this might sound very much - but just keep an eye out on this, it's important.)
WHY is this important?
Ok, look at the lower part of your back at the 'lumbar curve'. When you DON'T sit up straight, your whole spine will form like a ball, there won't be curves in your spine, just one ball-like line (just, bend your back and you'll know what I mean.)
When this happens, the bone parts of your spine will move, this means that they'll get closer to each other on the inside of the curve.
Now, remember the hard pieces between the bones? (WHITE on the image) .. they will get pushed back, because the bones have gotten closer to each other on the front.
When they're pushed back, they can hit your nerve systems. And that's what hurting you!

Now, when you bend a few times, not much happens, but when you always sit like a potato sack, then these (WHITE) pieces between the bones will shape after there 'new' position, they're forced that way, and they'll get pushed back much easier.
Thus, when you do a lot of sitting like a potato sack and lifting with a rounded back, you'll easier get pain in the lower back.

OK, what are we going to do about this?
Sit straight. When lifting, lift with your legs, not your back.
Now, sitting straight can be hard. Us humans aren't really designed for sitting, but much more for standing and laying down.
So you'll have to set up everything well to prevent and to cure your pains caused by bad ergonomics.

Chair: Sit up straight, position your knees in a 90 degree angle. Your feet should hit the ground, AND your upper leg should lay on the chair at the same point.
Your back should be straight, it's spine should have the normal 'double S-form'. Now, because your legs in comparison to your back is in a 90 degree angle it's hard to keep a straight back because you're legs are getting 'pulled down'.
So you can: sit up straight without touching the back of your chair, this is really tiring though!
Or you should make sure that the back of your chair has an 'anti-kyphosis' (hope I'm using the right term.. )
Just look at a 'good' chair. It should be rounded near your lower back? Why, because if it's like that it support your spine in a way that it can stay in it's original position.
Now there are good chairs and bad chairs with the 'anti-kyphosis' a good chair will 'fit' most people. They're designed in such way that almost 90% of the population can sit on them and have there lumbar curve supported. a bad chair would be one that has a little 'anti-kyphosis' but only works for 1 or 2 people..
Now, you can also get a chair measured up for you. If you really have a lot of pain and have money to spend, you can check into that,

But forcing yourself to sit up straight (and if you never done that that much, it WILL be tiring and it's easy to fall back in your old pattern, but when it does tire you, stand up and walk! Or lay down and rest! Don't be a potato sack or hunchback)
And getting a chair that supports your back in a good way is something that's really important for people that sit a lot (like behind computers..)
Training your back is also something that can be wise when you have a weak back - you need to have those muscles to make you sit up well. Oh, and remember, just like any other muscle and such, don't stress it out to much.. your body should feel relaxed at all times, and if it isn't, adjust something to MAKE it feel relaxed!! All the product you use should be adjusted to YOU, not you adjusting to some product!

Now, if this doesn't help, or it's like a lot of pain, strange pain, pain that doesn't disappear even after much sleeping etc. It could be wise to consult a doctor!

Hope this helps, and if something is not clear (because I'm bad at English terms) please ask! And I'll try to explain something again!

Good luck!
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Unread 07-15-2010, 10:31 AM   #5
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when sitting I find that putting a pillow behind the middle of my back just below the shoulder blades (not behind the small of the back) tends to keep me from slouching. having a good ergonomic chair , with no , or at least low , widely spaced armrests is important.

on some models the arm rests are removable but on a lot of them they are part of the chairs structure. I had a real dilemma finding a suitable one for my DAW.

one of the trouble with guitars they are inherently bad for your back.
the uneven weight of the strap, they generally tend to promote slouching and rounding of the back to look at the neck etc. Realy one should learn to play by feel and not sight anyway.

and thanks dragonfly that was very imformative!
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Unread 07-15-2010, 11:38 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AliceAxe View Post
when sitting I find that putting a pillow behind the middle of my back just below the shoulder blades (not behind the small of the back) tends to keep me from slouching. having a good ergonomic chair , with no , or at least low , widely spaced armrests is important.

on some models the arm rests are removable but on a lot of them they are part of the chairs structure. I had a real dilemma finding a suitable one for my DAW.

one of the trouble with guitars they are inherently bad for your back.
the uneven weight of the strap, they generally tend to promote slouching and rounding of the back to look at the neck etc. Realy one should learn to play by feel and not sight anyway.

and thanks dragonfly that was very imformative!
No problem, it's good to see that you've find a way from stopping yourself to go slouching.
And just like you mention, arm rests are important too, but that's something more noticed by your upper back, shoulders, neck and arms.
The deal here is:
When you rest your arms on an arms rest (or on your desk) your arms should feel NO strain at all!! (Hence the 'rest' part of the 'arm rest'). If you have rests that are too high (or a desk that's too high), then you'll get a lot of pain in your arms, followed by pain in your neck and upper back. I've had this once because I had a LAN party for 2.5 days while sitting behind a table that's about 10cm (3.5") too high! It's always a good check to just stay in a position and think about how each part of your body is feeling when you're in that position. If it hurts, is uncomfortable or stressing - fix it! You'll always end up being in such positions sometimes, but for you OWN house / living place, avoid it at all costs! If you keep this in mind it'll safe you from a lot of pain and trouble in the long run.
So yeah, chairs and desks and keyboards and mice are really important if you're going to spend a lot of time using them!

If it's appreciated I could also give other advices about ergonomics for the rest of your body when it comes to sitting behind a computer. But unless it's asked by the OP or in another thread then I would be hijacking this. So to stop this any further, back to the guitar playing:

Playing without looking is the best, because you won't have to bend your back, but it's hard to do that. Now it can be OK to bend your back from time to time, your body is designed to handle that, but if you (and mind your ergonomics at other times to be good!) then I suggest doing taking breaks while playing.
I know lot of people wont do this, because they feel they're fine, but remember, if you're sitting there bend over for like 3 hours straight then eventually 'something' happens to your spine.. might be not as much or extreme as other people. And when you get old you might blame it at 'Ah, I'm just getting old',, but believe me, certain things can be postponed.
So take care of your body and take breaks while playing.
When it comes to helping your back, you'll have to walk or lie down during a break, .. so the best suggestion would be to stop every 30 minutes or so, stand up, walk a bit, get something to drink, (relax your fingers for a bit too ), and after 5 minutes of walking, sit back, and go play again,, and try learning stuff so that you don't have to lean forward.
Now you might think that standing up would be the most ideal thing to do, but the position in which this puts the guitar + the heavy unbalanced weight (like mentioned above) isn't super for your back aswell as your hands. (Especially if you have your guitar hanging low )

And keep your body relaxed,, don't adjust yourself to all the badly designed products around you, but get the product to adjust to you! (This is from an Industrial Product Designer)
Like someone above mentioned doing yoga, I guess they focus on keeping your body relaxed too. That's just really important, strain and pain are almost never necessary. They are a _warning_ from your body that there is something wrong, so avoid getting those warnings!
I hope this made any sense and that it has some use for you. Have a nice day
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Unread 07-16-2010, 05:52 AM   #7
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Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. I have been trying to sit up and keep my back straight and I believe its working. I do think im gonna end up buying a wedge cushion because my computer chair is just not comfortable at all for sitting when I play guitar.
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Unread 07-20-2010, 04:14 AM   #8
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Strap locks,strap,stand up and play? Lol just a thought

check out my band AORTIC:
http://www.facebook.com/Aortic
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Unread 07-20-2010, 07:43 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soubi7string View Post
Strap locks,strap,stand up and play? Lol just a thought
I already stand 8 hours a day at work. I like to sit and relax while playing
But that's just me, so standing up is a good option yes, but then you have the problem that the weight isn't divided equally on your shoulders.
Now, if that's a problem for you because you do long sessions and you want to fix that, then there are straps that go over both your shoulders!
Like this one for example:
Dare(TM) Strap - ergonomic guitar strap, multi-use multi-shoulder, dual shoulder strap, bass guitar strap, lead guitar strap, postal products, postal uniforms, postal service bag strap, carpenter belt support

Good luck!
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Unread 07-20-2010, 08:28 AM   #10
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Thanks again for the great info Dragonfly, and yes I would love to read more on ergonomics!

I was wondering to if playing sitting on a stool might be better for the back, that it might force you to sit up if you feet are on the runs of it instead of sitting down in a chair persay?

Also I heard from a student something about a specialy designed chair for singers to practice in , some kind of posture chair, anyone know anything about this?
I did a search but couldnt find it..

I found this chair, anyone have experience with one of these?

http://www.putnams.co.uk/office.htm

looks like it would make the back feel better but be impractical for things like guitar playing!
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Unread 07-20-2010, 11:02 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AliceAxe View Post
Thanks again for the great info Dragonfly, and yes I would love to read more on ergonomics!

I was wondering to if playing sitting on a stool might be better for the back, that it might force you to sit up if you feet are on the runs of it instead of sitting down in a chair persay?

Also I heard from a student something about a specialy designed chair for singers to practice in , some kind of posture chair, anyone know anything about this?
I did a search but couldnt find it..

I found this chair, anyone have experience with one of these?

Kneeling Chairs | Back Pain | Posture Solutions | Knee Supports | Coccyx

looks like it would make the back feel better but be impractical for things like guitar playing!
"I was wondering to if playing sitting on a stool might be better for the back, that it might force you to sit up if you feet are on the runs of it instead of sitting down in a chair persay?"
My English is bad, so I don't know what playing with your feet on the runs would mean. If you could explain that a bit more, then I can maybe help answer your question.

About the chair you linked. A chair like this, same as a stool or sitting at the edge of your chair will force you to use your own muscles to keep your back straight. If you keep your back straight, then this is just very good. Tough it tends to be very tiring over time.

Then there's a chair that does have back 'support'. Now, it doesn't mean that when a chair has something to 'support' your back that it's really effective. Yes, it might feel lazy and relaxing to lean against it, but it's most of the time not good for your lower back in the long run.
Why is this? Because of the angle between your torso and legs (90 degrees), there's a muscle on the bottom side of your leg that's pulled when in this position. This muscle will 'pull' you down eventually, ever noticed people sitting on a couch straight, and then letting there legs go forward, there but moves forward on the couch which leaves a gap between their back and couch? In that situation it's very easy to let your back go round. Which is bad!

So, how can you make sure this doesn't happen?
Two options, one is, like the knee-chair you linked, position your torso-leg angle in a 105-135 degrees angle. This will make sure that the muscle on the bottom of your leg isn't stretched and doesn't pull you down. (Though gravity might.) Now there are people saying that this isn't good in the really long run, because people tend to make their muscles lazy this way and will get more stiff. Now, if you are planning on sitting in the chair the whole day and not doing much movement besides it, then it's not a good idea.
But if you vary chairs (because you do other stuff from time to time), then a chair like this might be fine because it will force you away from your back support leaving the 'sitting up straight' to you.
The knee chair tough, is something that's really harsh on your lower legs, but you'll get used to it over time. Try it out in a store sometime! But I don't think it's easy to play guitar when sitting on one.

The second option (which is found in very luxury chairs, but will probably go more mainstream in the next few years). Is to make the angle between your torso and legs even smaller then 90 degrees, to about 75-85 degrees! Chairs that have this will look like normal chair, but once you sit on it with your weight they will move your but downwards to create that smaller angle.
What happens here is that is pushes your back back! That way your back will be pushed in the right shape (because these chairs will have lumbar-support) and it will cost you less energy.
Now I've only seen these in luxe office versions, so they have armrests which aren't nice if you plan on playing guitar on it.

Ok, interactive time! You're in a chair now right? Good. Take a pillow, one that's big enough cover your but, one that's pretty stuffed, and is hard to 'reshape' - but it's nice if it's a bit soft too for a better expirience.
Now there are two things you have to try out. Try them out for a whole day! While sitting behind the computer, while playing guitar, etc, etc.
1) Put the pillow below your but, and make sure that the bottom of your upper legs still touch the chair, a bit like this (like the blue thing on the left side):

(I stole that from the link you gave me )
Now, this will position your torso and legs in a 105-135 degrees angle.
If done correct your back will feel 'torn away' from the back of the chair. (You might have to adjust the height of your chair, your feet need to be able to go flat on the ground.) Just try this out for a day.
2) Move the pillow up front, below your legs on the front of your chair. Make sure there's no pillow on the back part of the chair (aka, where your but should be) Now sit down. Your legs are now closer to your body and the angle between your torso and legs should be between 75-85 degrees. This will give you the feeling like your being pushed in the back of your chair. Now, if your chair has a good lumbar support that this is good.

I find both positions very pleasing. They both have there pro's and con's. So just get a chair where you are comfortable in. Where you can play guitar in, where you can sit behind the computer in. It can be anything. The main goal for a chair is to make sure part of your body is relieved from strain. (Most of the time, your legs!) Just find a chair that does that for you, make sure it's:
-changeable in height
-it has lumbar support (that little 'bulb' in the back of the chair just above your but.)
-it's back is movable in height (if it has one.)
-it's armrest are removable (most of the time, armrest just force your shoulders up. This feels like it 'helps' your back because part of your weight is gives to your shoulders this way. But in the long run, it's really hard on your shoulders.

Now there probably isn't any 'right' chair. So just get a good chair that you can spend at least whole week in without moving! And make sure you move enough, don't sit behind the computer for hours. Stand up every thirty minutes and walk for five minutes. If you have different places in your house where you sit. Don't get the same chair on every place, because your thinking that that one chair is really nice. Get different good chairs for different places (that means, one sort of chair in the computer room, one sort of chair in the bedroom, one sort of chair in the kitchen and one sort of chair in the living room. - if you want to match them, that's fine, don't get 10 different chairs in the living room 'cause that looks cheap.)
But what I mean with this is that every chair will make you 'lazy' or will 'strain' you in some way or another in the long run.
When looking purely to your leg position. It's nice to have your legs in a 135 position to your torso because it doesn't strain your muscles. But in the long run it can make you stiff because your leg never really stretched that far.
On the other hand, if your legs are always in a 75 degrees angle to your torso, then you might get strained to much and blood flow might go slower through your legs.
Now this last one is probably less worse for me, because I stand up every now and then and walk a bit.
The first one can be less worse if you put a little stand below your feet every now and then to raise your feet and make the angle between your legs and torso smaller in such a way that your muscles don't become lazy.
Variety is the key!

I hope I answered all your chair and back questions with this. Next post will be about your arms, wrists and fingers. But not now, I'll give you a chance to absorb the information and ask questions.
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Unread 01-28-2011, 03:43 AM   #12
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Hey man I know I'm late but thanks for all the info. So do u really think something like a wedge cushion would help my back? I was thinking of getting a wedge cushion and buying a new footstool (old one broke )

My apologies for necrobumping
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