Out of Africa: an idea for a stress-free seat. *
INSPIRATION can come from the most unlikely source. For Australian psychologist Mr. Greg Usher, it took the form of a two-legged stool, an essential item of equipment of the Maasai tribesmen of Africa.
As unlikely as it seems, that simple stool has led to the sophisticated Equipoise, a piece of ergonomic furniture - "not a chair, not a stool, but a balance seat" - designed by Mr Usher to relieve spinal pressure and back strain brought on by prolonged periods of sitting still
PAIN IN THE BACK
In 1988, Mr Usher, as part of post-graduate studies in psychology, took a 10-day course of meditation which involved sitting in silence for 15 hours a day. The result was aches and pains throughout the body, the worst of which occurred in the back.
Cushions, chairs and low stools failed to bring relief. Then a small stool with half-round legs, a copy of a Maasai stool, was tried and the back pain, disappeared almost immediately.
"Research has shown that the long-term effects of lack of movement and high-compression loading on the spinal discs are two major causes of back pain among workers in sedentary occupations," Mr Usher said."In addition, our general tendency to sit, or slump, in stationary positions has brought about a gradual deterioration in our posture and balance sense."
The Equipoise, with its axle-mounted seat and kneeling pad, addresses all three problems. The gentle rocking motion activates the relevant body cells to provide spinal column nourishment, and distributes pressure or compression force from the spine to the thighs and lower legs.
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EQUIPOISE - NEW SEAT OF REASON
By JEREMY HOREY
INVENTOR Mr Greg Usher has designed an innovative new seat to prevent back problems caused by long periods of sitting. The seat is inspired by a stool used by tribesmen in Africa.
" The idea came from a little stool that the Masai carry around with them. These stools have half-round legs and when they sit on them with their knees on the ground they will often rock back and forth." Mr Usher said.
Rocking is good for the spine. Discs in the spinal column receive nourishment through movement. Gentle rocking provides this movement which helps keep the cells alive when someone sits for a long time.
" When sitting in an ordinary seat all our movements start from a position of static inertia, causing a gradual build-up of strain and muscle tension." Mr. Usher told The Australian last week. "The Equipoise makes these movements easier and so reduces the incidence of muscular strain and tension."
The Equipoise chair has both kneeler and seat mounted on an axles. This, combined with a spring and rubber stop, allows the user to rock gently back and forward on the seat.
The Equipoise seat is available by direct mail-order from Mr Usher. He can be contacted by telephone on 018 161 434
worth it's weight in gold
"I would like to take this opportunity
to express my delight with the Equipoise. I have 3 bad discs in
my lower back and had found sitting in ordinary chairs for any
length of time quite painful. But with your chair I can sit for
hours extremely comfortable. Getting in and out of chairs was
another big problem for me as I am only 5' tall, but the way your
chair is designed I have no problem. Other chairs I had worked
at had the bar across between the knee rest and seat that you
had to step over, but I can just walk into the Equipoise. I tried
about 15 different chairs at the Independent Living Centre and
while yours was expensive, once I sat in it - I had to have it.
It's been worth it's weight in gold"
Adustable Seating P.O. Box 434 Flinders Lane VIC 8009 AUSTRALIA