After millennia of evolution, human beings stood on their hind limbs and eventually became one of the most erect species around. Then we invented the typewriter, the desktop computer, the laptop and the tablet and now we've bent ourselves back over again.
What's become recognised as "iHunch" has resulted in widespread neck and shoulder tension, back pain and basically just a bad look.
So if technology is the leading cause of this condition, maybe there's a gadget to combat it...
Upright Go is a small device with big potential, not only tracking your posture habits but training you to sit and stand up straighter.
I've always had terrible posture and I'd never really done much about it
until my back pain became so persistent and invasive my quality of life was starting to suffer.
A big part of my problem is a lack of basic core strength. I've tried various exercise regimes in an attempt to sort this out, which has certainly made a difference.
Yet I still find sitting or standing tall and pulling my shoulders back just doesn't come naturally.
What's really distressing is I seem to have passed on some of my bad posture habits to my 16 year-old daughter - so I gave her first crack with the Upright Go...
When I was told about the Upright Go, my first thought was that it sounded like one of those electric dog collars that you use to zap your dog when it’s misbehaving. And that’s exactly what it is. But there’s a reason those collars exist, and there’s a reason this exists... because it works. You put it on and you’re basically given the choice to sit up straight or be told off. It doesn’t hurt when it vibrates but it makes you feel bad for disappointing it! I don’t know how such a tiny device can have such power over you, but somehow it made me want to impress it. So I instantly sat up straighter and I stood with a straight back. It only recommended I train for nine minutes the first time before setting it back to tracking mode, but even after I turned it off I could still feel it’s presence, and still imagine it vibrating every time I slouched. So it kept working, without even being turned on. The Upright Go is always watching.
The second day I had trouble connecting the Upright Go to my phone, but this didn’t matter because you can use it without the app. Unfortunately I couldn’t remember if two blue flashes of the LED light meant it had been turned on or off, or if calibration was shown by two short vibrations or one long one, or what a green blinking light meant... What I’m getting at is that while you’re getting to know it, figuring out what the Upright Go is trying to tell you can be difficult. But maybe that’s just because I was born in 2001 and I don’t remember what using devices without a screen is like.
Day 3 and the Upright Go is starting to lose its stickiness. I only have a limited amount of adhesive pads so I’m reluctant to change, but I also don’t want it falling off my back during the day. The manual says you can clean it with a little water, so this is what I do, and it looks promising. But when sticking the Upright Go back on it again, it feels almost less sticky than before. After another half day of feeling like it’s about to fall off, I turn to the alcohol wipes provided in the starter pack. I’m ready for the magic they will work on the adhesive pad. And at first, it seems to be working! But then it falls off and gets tangled in my shirt. And falls off again. And again. And again. Apparently the pad is meant to last up to two weeks but mine made it... Three days.
Day 4: My sister asked why I had a security tag stuck to my back. Hmm.
Day 5: I had two exams today and knowing I wasn’t going to be sitting up straight, I decided I valued good grades more than a good posture. However, I made it through my twelve minutes training when I got home without slouching once. Go me! - Billie Hart
It was at about this point she lost interest and gave up. Teenagers; what are you gonna do?
I figured I better give this thing a try too, especially since my natural stance is about one notch away from Quasimodo.
Like my daughter, at first I found managing the adhesive pads a bit tricky and keeping the Upright Go attached to me somewhat challenging. But I persisted and by storing the Upright Go in its case when not using it and making sure all surfaces involved were super clean, I managed to keep things sticky in all the right spots.
If you can get over the initial hurdle of actually keeping the Upright Go in place, the rest is simple - and effective. As Billie said, even when you're not in training mode, you're ever so slightly aware it's there, so you try that little bit harder.
The process is very like keeping a food diary or tracking your exercise - once you have some statistics, you naturally want to improve your performance. To do this, there is of course the obligatory app. While the app is extremely simple and easy-to-use, it's also rather limited.
When you first use it to set up your device, you're required to create an account inputting your gender, height and weight. Weirdly, once you've done this, there's no option to adjust these details which is a pain as I think I accidentally told my Upright Go I'm a woman.
On the bright side, the customer support from the qualified Upright experts is prompt and proactive - when I asked how give my profile a sex change they got back to me straight away... to say I couldn't. (They're working on it though, apparently)
I've also received several messages and emails of encouragement and advice, not to mention the promise of replacement adhesives if I keep training. (These can also be purchased from PB Tech and JB HiFi)
You'll only get about a day's usage out of the battery, but the good news is the device charges very quickly if you want to top it up so you can wear it out for some late-night posturing.
While it's still early days, I do believe the Upright Go is already having effect. I know this, not just because of the slouching statistics I'm monitoring, but because my upper back muscles are tired - good tired, like after a workout.
Hopefully next time you see me, I may even look taller!