I have to admit, sitting all day in the office, sitting while studying and sitting while playing video games or playing the guitar in my leisure time was not the best treatment for my back in recent years. Especially the lower back got worse over the years, so it was time to change something.
The most common advice you will hear is to do more sports. Well, yes but what do you do if you are not that into sports and don't want to start something? It was me in early 2012. I was young, and I was on my semester abroad, and I had to do something.
As a gamer, I was looking for a way to trick me into exercising and staying with it somehow through gamification. Indeed, I found a way to start jogging that worked for me, so this is an app that I would recommend anyone who kind of misses the fun in just jogging:
HZombies, Run! Is a brilliant app that puts you in the virtual shoes of "Runner 5". As a "Runner" you live in a post-apocalyptic world looking for resources and survival. You complete a mission that ranges somewhere between 15 - 25 minutes each (a good running time for a starter), and you listen to your operator guiding you through the experience. You gather supplies, look for survivors or simply have to escape from a zombie horde. After your run, you can build your home base in the app and develop your buildings and population. So it is fun running away from zombies and when your back home you can play a small simulation game on updating your home base. A fantastic approach for gamers and it worked wonders for me. After a few months, I stopped using the app, because I did not need anything to motivate me for a run anymore.
In addition to my continuous efforts with jogging, it was far from over for me and my testing to improve posture, back muscles and sitting comfort.
A few months later I discovered BackJoy, which is to this day present on my office chair. It is an excellent seat that you can use anywhere, on your car seat, at home or in the office. It automatically pushes your posture into the right position that you will feel automatically relieved. It will also help to develop muscle memory so that over time you will not even need the seat anymore.
I know, this is a far cry from exercising, but it did a great job of helping that transition towards healthier sitting.
Another addition to my living room regarding gamification. In fact, it does not matter if you are using a Wii or WiiU, both Nintendo consoles offer a balance board support and the needed software for you to get up off the sofa and do some work.
The idea is to perform some basic exercises on this balance board that measures your weight, balance, and accuracy of the moves shown in the game. It ranges from basic sit-ups to challenging Yoga positions.
It helped me to build some solid muscle mass in underused regions when sitting all day. The device also measures your body weight and helps you setting daily calory goals.
Why waste money on a gym membership you will not use when you can have your gym right at home without having to leave.
I mentioned before that I am an advocate for Kickstarter and it is amazing product campaigns (Why I Backed Over 100 Kickstarter Campaigns). One of those early campaigns that got me hooked was Betterback. I have been using the BackJoy as mentioned previously in the office for more than two years now and Betterback is my companion part at home. Particularly useful for longer sessions in front of my home PC or television. It also helps you to remain in good posture, but in such a comfortable way, you will feel the difference immediately. I even gave one as a present on Christmas. I am so amazed at how wrong you can sit your entire life and how quickly gadgets can help you fix your posture. It affects your whole body and mood. Sitting the right way is something you should consider when you work mainly in a seated fashion.
The last gadget I would like to mention here is the kettlebell.
I think that the kettlebell has been around since the 80s and came originally from Russia. I came across this training method while reading about Pavel Tsatsouline and his workout regimen with the kettlebell.
Since I am not the gym type, I thought to give it a try with some 8kg bell and just after a few minutes training every other day I could already feel a vast improvement in strength and stability in my back. Seriously, the input/output ratio is impressive. I am currently using 12kg and will soon upgrade towards 16kg.
I cannot stress enough how much impact a small kettlebell can have. The kettlebell is the closest thing to a health hack that I have ever encountered. Plus it gives you the strength where you need it. I even feel weird when I did not do the kettlebell swings for a few days and just have to do them. There are simple (be careful to do them in the right way!) and super efficient.
So this is it. I think there is at least one solution for everyone who'd like to tackle back pain. All of them are also beneficial to other areas and the general fitness. So if you are like me, this is the best approach for a non-sportive person in my experience.
It is also one of the best new year's resolutions to make if you are into that. Let me know what you think or if you already tried one of those hacks mentioned above.
Thanks for reading!