RE: Ball chairs and their kin

Subject: RE: Ball chairs and their kin
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: "Porrello, Leonard" <lporrello -at- illumina -dot- com>, 'Lynne Wright' <Lynne -dot- Wright -at- tiburoninc -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 8 Aug 2011 15:51:51 -0400

As mentioned elsewhere, I have a Kangaroo sit/stand workstation.

Currently, I stand in the mornings and sit for part of each

As my core gets stronger (from simple interventions like
the afore-mentioned plank-on-a-ball-with-stirring),
my lower back doesn't clench so much from lengthy standing,
and I'm slowly lengthening the standing part of the day
and shrinking the sit portion.

I find that lumbar rolls make the back feel better for
the short term, but they seem to have the same disadvantage
as those back-support harnesses that the big-box reno-and-building
material stores issued to all their employees a few years ago:
they slowly weaken the back and core muscles, which eventually
makes the back problem worse.

Y' notice that Home Depot and Lowes etc. no longer have
all their staff in those black belt-and-suspender things.
They finally realized that people were feeling better
until they tried to move something or lift something
that should have been easy (before they'd worn the
crutch... er... belt for a year), and badly wrenched their
backs. The policy was quietly discontinued.

Last year, I used the Kangaroo in the standing position
almost exclusively for six months, starting from day two
after I unpacked it. It was good, and helped my back
problem at the time, but basically modified it (the problem)
more than eliminating it.

I currently believe that the combination of improved core
strength and of minimizing time spent in the upright
seated position will finally clear up the lower back nasties
that have plagued me for years.

By the way, sitting, per se, is not totally evil - it's the
right-angle bend at the waist. Sitting upright.
If you semi-recline to about 120-135 degrees waist-bend,
supported, your back is just fine. The trick is getting
your workstation to accommodate that laid-back position.

By the way, by the way, situps are horrible for your back,
and crunches are not great. (Better, but not ideal.)

The type of seating that is recommended in the lower portion
of Leonard's first link would do the job, and is similar to
workstations used by some illustrators and draftsmen (when
those latter still existed). But, when your legs and butt
hit the chair at that angle, there's pressure backward,
so you need a legged chair that will resist moving, rather
than a wheeled or castor'd chair that will keep evading
your butt. You see some people "solve" that problem by
hooking one toe in the ring of the chair to keep it under
them, rather than allowing it to slip backwards.

Real supportive seating would be tipped back like an
astronaut in a launch chair. Your screen(s) would be
suspended above you, at just the right angle and distance
(readily adjustable...), and your various input devices
would be on adjustable trays for easy positioning/re-positioning.

Needless to say, that would be horribly expensive and isn't
seen outside science-fiction movies, where the geeky sidekick
has that sort of arrangement from which to work his/her
miracles - and then gets killed off at the 2/3 mark of the film
so the hero can be motivated to wreak great vengeance... but
I digress from my digressions.

Another "by the way"... many people don't hurt all that much
while sitting upright, and often not immediately upon
standing after lengthy upright sitting. What happens is
that they really hurt (in the lower back) after just a
bit of standing. This happens because the changes induced
by endless sitting result in weaker fronts. When you stand,
your lower back tightens and pulls the lower spine into
excessive lordosis, with the pelvis tipped far forward,
and not enough frontal muscle tone to bring it back to
neutral. The lower back muscles are in an extended, unresisted
clench, which reduces circulation, which reduces oxygenation
and traps carbon dioxide and lactic acid and... and... ow.

If you are going to stand, keep reminding yourself to bring
your pelvis up to neutral. Or strengthen your front and side
core muscles until it happens naturally, taking the strain
off the lower back. And wiggle a bit. Move. Do a couple of
air squats. Do some slow twisting to either side - carefully.
Anything to let the lower back unclench and let the blood
flow and the nerves work properly.

Also stretch your butt - sit again, cross one ankle over
the other knee, keep the back flat and lean forward at
the waist. Switch sides. Do it slowly - your lower back
will slowly unclench, and then you'll feel the actual
stretch in the cheek on the side with the leg up.

There's also a small release of the piriformis muscle
when you do that. However, there are other stretches
that target that muscle much better - look 'em up; they're
tough to describe in just words. The piriformis is one
that is likely pinching your sciatic nerve and giving
you butt, leg, and even foot pain in addition to your
lower back ache.

The shin bone's connected to the jaw bone...

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Porrello, Leonard [mailto:lporrello -at- illumina -dot- com]
> Contrary to popular belief, sitting up strait, with or without lumbar
> support, isn't healthy, and lumbar pads are useless if core ergonomic
> issues aren't corrected. Here are some science based suggestions:

The information contained in this electronic mail transmission
may be privileged and confidential, and therefore, protected
from disclosure. If you have received this communication in
error, please notify us immediately by replying to this
message and deleting it from your computer without copying
or disclosing it.


Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with Doc-To-Help.
Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need. Try
Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Please move off-topic discussions to the Chat list, at:


Ball chairs and their kin: From: Dan Goldstein
Re: Ball chairs and their kin: From: Gene Kim-Eng
RE: Ball chairs and their kin: From: Dan Goldstein
Re: Ball chairs and their kin: From: Gene Kim-Eng
RE: Ball chairs and their kin: From: McLauchlan, Kevin
RE: Ball chairs and their kin: From: Lynne Wright
RE: Ball chairs and their kin: From: Porrello, Leonard

Previous by Author: RE: New words - where have you found them?
Next by Author: RE: Advice on software testing?
Previous by Thread: Re: Ball chairs and their kin
Next by Thread: Re: Ball chairs and their kin

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads