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Breathing & Posture

By on January 1, 2018

They’re Under Your Direct Control

By: Siphiwe Baleka, Founder, Fitness Trucking

From the second we are born until the moment we die, human beings breathe. It is the single, most-repeated action throughout our entire lives. Breathing is the process of moving air into and out of the lungs to facilitate gas exchange with the internal environment, mostly by bringing in oxygen and flushing out carbon dioxide. If you’re not breathing correctly, you’re depriving your body of oxygen, which means all the cellular processes in your body that rely on oxygen are compromised and diminished.

By this alone, breathing is fundamentally important to our health. Moreover, decreased oxygenated blood flowing throughout the body starves it of needed nutrition. We all know the immediate effects of going without oxygen more than three or four minutes. Most of us, however, are not aware of the long-term effects of chronic poor breathing. It’s like the frog in the pot of tepid water. Bring it to a boil slowly and the frog isn’t aware of the danger.

Posture is the biomechanical alignment of the individual body parts and orientation of the body. People who sit for long hours often show breathing-pattern dysfunction that is the result of poor posture. The poor posture can cause the chest muscles to tighten, the shoulders to round, and the head to move forward. When these things happen, they limit the ability of the rib cage to expand, causing one to take shallow, more rapid breathes.

According to a study by Erik Ohlson and Anna-Lisa Osvalder entitled, Truck Drivers’ Postural and Visual Behavior: An Explorative Study to Understand Expectations on Current Designs and Future Vehicles, “Truck drivers’ postural behavior is determined by several contextual factors. Some are related to the actual driving task and traffic situation, and some are related to the cabin layout. Individual variability also largely affects the choice of sitting posture. Field of vision is often prioritized over sitting comfort in increasingly complex driving environments…” A survey by the National Institute of Health showed that over 50% of truck drivers reported experiencing lower back pain, that they believed was a direct result of their occupation.

Finally, many studies show a very strong correlation between obesity and decreased lung function. If the abdominal cavity is filled with excessive fat, this puts even more pressure on the internal organs, including the lungs, making it even more difficult to breathe. Put all of these factors together—poor posture and poor breathing compounded by obesity—and you become the frog in the tepid water! Every day that you drive brings you a little closer to boiling and then one day—it’s too late! Thus, two of the most overlooked aspects of driver health are breathing and posture.

Correcting Both Factors

Most remedies for correcting posture and reducing back pain among truck drivers have focused on “ergonomics” and getting a proper-fitting seat or seat cushion. Unfortunately, such remedies neglect the fact that drivers can control their poor posture in real time. Few solutions on improving breathing have been offered by the industry. However, there is a much better and less expensive way to use technology to correct both your breathing and your posture.

First, Lumo Lift is a device that tracks your posture in real time. It clips on to your shirt just under the collarbone, using a magnet. It vibrates, alerting you when your posture is out of alignment. This awareness can cause you to sit up straight and automatically correct your posture. The device synchronizes the data wirelessly via Bluetooth to your smart phone to collect data and keep track of your posture history. Thus, you can measure, monitor, intervene, and correct posture in real time and receive detailed feedback regarding improvement.

Similarly, Spire makes a device that clips on to the waist of your pants and vibrates to alert you when your breathing changes, particularly if you become tense and the device senses that you’re heading into a stressful reaction. Such notification can signal you to breathe deeper and steadier, thereby inducing calmness and greater oxygenation of the blood.

Using these two devices together does two things: it reminds you to sit upright, preparing you to then breathe correctly. You can reduce tension and stress, provide nutrition to your vital organs, increase your mental energy and focus, and prevent muscular-skeletal problems like back and neck pain that are caused by poor posture. These disorders are preventable if you first become aware of them, and then correct them in real time. This is the value of the Lumo Lift and Spire technologies.

Stop starving your vital organs of the oxygen they need. Sit up and breathe!

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