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Archive for October 3rd, 2009

Shane's Herbol Muscle Heating Balm

By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Many chiropractors and sports clinics use BioFreeze for sore muscle relief. However, we’ve had better results with a simple product made of all natural products. Unlike Icy Hot or BioFreeze, Herbal Muscle Heat Balm has a time release formula that allows the balm to penetrate muscles more slowly over a period of hours, instead of providing a quick, short-lasting, superficial muscle heating effect.

Our clients report that after applying the balm before bed, they wake up with less pain and less tension in their muscles. It’s great for massage work as well.

A small jar only costs about $10 and can last for months!

Note: Do not apply this balm before taking a hot bath, sitting in a steam room or sauna! The balm does not easily rub off and it will heat up fast and feel like it’s burning. It’s best to apply it post bath for this reason.

It’s hard to find in stores but you can order a jar or two online a this website here. Click on the far left hand webpage: Tools for Life. Then click on the picture of the balm to order.

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By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Do you have a great backrest, but your chair or car seat is too hard or you find yourself sliding off the seat? Or is your chair a wire mesh type with a supposedly great ergonomic design but no comfy cushioning in the seat?

Why settle for uncomfortable car seats and office chairs when you can easily upgrade your seating setup with a foam cushion! Pair your backrest with a foam seat cushion.

For about $100-$150 you can put together your own “ergo” seating. We’ve reviewed many of the products out there and found the best prices and reviews on Amazon. You may be able to find the same or similar products elsewhere, but you will pay about 10-30% more from other vendors.

To save you time, we pasted the links and pictures of the products in a few separate posts about backrests and seat cushions. Find the situation that describes your issue (you are taller than average, shorter than average, of wider girth than average, etc.) and read the associated post to find out about the product we think may help you best. In this post we discuss three different seat cushion options.

We also included pertinent tips from the Amazon customer reviews so you don’t have to wade through them yourself. However, if you want to read all the reviews yourself, simply go to the Amazon product link and check out the customer reviews.

Note: Many car seats are smaller and office chairs may be deeper and wider in the seat than some cushions. So when adding a foam seat cushion to your chair or car seat, keep the existing seat dimensions in mind. Amazon customer reviewers make note of this for some of the cushions discussed below.

1. Essential Medical Supply Memory P.F. Sculpture Comfort Seat Cushion

Essential Medical Seat Cushion

A bargain on Amazon for $28.92!


According to the manufacturer:

• Relieves Pressure
• Seating cushion includes molded, 6 lb. density memory foam
• Comfortable seat for individuals sitting in chairs, riding in cars, scooters, etc.
• Encased in removable and washable luxurious zippered blue velveteen cover.
• The sculpted design is anatomically correct and provides maximum comfort.
• Product Dimensions: 18 x 2.5 x 16 inches

Amazon Reviewers Say:
• The memory foam is dense so it doesn’t collapse into nothingness when you sit on it, and it gives you very good support. It raises the seat about two inches, which can make getting up from the chair a lot easier.

• My only complaint is that it would be nice if it was at least 2 inches wider and 3 inches deeper so it would approximate the seating area of my office chair. At its current dimensions, it only covers the seating area of a traditional dining room chair.

• While it does have a dense foam, it is not memory foam, as I understand the term. It compresses and quickly bounces back like any other foam. Would also have liked it to be a bit bigger, particularly in depth. Really only good for a small chair.

2. Kensington Memory Foam Seat Cushion

Kensington Memory Foam Seat Cushion

On Amazon for $37.64

According to the manufacturer:

• High-density memory cell foam was originally developed by NASA to relieve G-force strain during lift off.
• Temperature- and pressure-sensitive, it molds to the body’s contour, offering optimal comfort.
• Dissipates pressure while conforming to body contours.
• Leather-like bottom cover reduces movement on chair.
• Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.6 x 16.2 inches ; 2.6 pounds

Amazon Reviewers Say:

• No customer reviews on this product as of yet. We purchased one for one of our clients and so far she loves it, but she weighs only about 120 pounds.

Review from the similar Kensington Memory Foam Seat Rest (L82024)

• I ordered this cushion for my rather large desk chair at work- and it works great! The foam is very thick, but conforms to the body to support it well. The cushion is tapered at the front to prevent pressure on the legs. I would highly recommend this to improve posture and support while working at a desk. I am buying a second one to keep at home so when I work at my kitchen table on my laptop I am at the proper height.

• Heavier people may find the cushion smashes quickly, according to Amazon reviewers.

3. Obus Forme Ergonomic Seat Cushion

Orbus Forme Seat Cushion

From Amazon for $59.46

According to the manufacturer:

• Polyurethane foam construction absorbs compression forces and dissipates the vibration created in moving vehicles, making it ideal for use on the road.
• Can be used on its own or with any Obus Forme Backrest support to create a complete and comfortable ergonomic sitting experience.
• The removable front section is easily unzipped to allow for use with narrow chairs and benches.

Amazon Reviewers Say:

• The seat comes in a handy little plastic tote bag with a handle for carrying, and you can zip off the front segment of the seat to fit shallower chairs.

• This cushion saved my butt on a long car trip! I have periodic flare-ups of sciatica and hip pain, aggravated by riding in the car. Even short trips around town usually have me squirming in my seat. With the ObusForme cushion I can ride or drive pain free for hours at a time. I also brought it to a football game, and was comfortable for over three hours on the bleacher seat.

• However, I purchased the Obus Ultra Forme backrest for added support. I was so happy with the backrest that I decided that adding the seat was called for. It unfortunately turned out to be fairly uncomfortable. The support was pretty good, and the problem might have been that it was too small for my recliner, but I ended up returning it. I’m 6’4″, 200lbs, so maybe I don’t have enough built in padding, but regardless, I was disappointed in the seat after being so happy with the backrest.

• Great firm seat cushion. It stays in place well, and is a good complement to the Obus Forme back support device.

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Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Smart phones are common tools for today’s fast-paced business world. And just as computer use has improved our lives AND added a host of new ergonomic issues, “iPod Neck” and “Blackberry Neck” are concerns for many users that hold their phones while looking down.

Smart phones are not heavy. You may think holding them won’t cause muscle tension. They are easy to hold in one hand and type with the other. But holding the phone and looking down at the small screen for long periods of time can cause unwanted muscle pain in the upper back and neck. Those that use their iPod’s as a Kindle reader spend even more time looking down while viewing the device.

Think holding a small phone can’t cause any problems? Try this test yourself.

1. Hold your phone up in front of you and look down at the screen for a full 60 seconds.

2. Notice how your neck and shoulders feel as the clock ticks by.

3. Feel any uncomfortability in your muscles?

4. Now think of how you would feel after holding your phone and looking down for five minutes. Ten minutes. You get the idea.

When you use your phone or media player you are usually focusing your attention on the task at hand, not on your muscle tension. Doing this exercise makes you more aware of how you use your body when typing or viewing your smart phone.

Smart phones need smart accessories. How can you counter the muscle strain you may get while holding your iPod or Blackberry to type?


A few simple suggestions to avoid “iPod Neck.”

1. Whenever possible, rest your elbows on a table or surface so that your arms are propped up to view your smart phone. This takes pressure off your neck and shoulder muscles and let’s you work more easily. Resting your elbows on a flat surface is free! And you can take your elbows with you anywhere you go. Just make sure the table or surface is not so slow you have to slump over to reach it!)

Find this inexpensive, portable stand here

2. Purchase an inexpensive Smart phone holder to use to prop up your device when you are on the go.

Tiko Stand

This Tiko Fold is convenient on planes, trains, at the coffee shop or at a desk. Free your hands and relax while viewing your phone or media player at one of nine adjustable viewing angles.

The Tiko Fold folds flat for slipping into a shirt pocket, backpack, computer bag, or purse. When folded into a stand, the Tiko Fold provides a universal base designed to hold the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G, Sony PSP, and practically any portable video players like your cell phone in both vertical and horizontal orientations. The Tiko Fold also holds the iPod Classic, iPod Touch, iPod Nano, BlackBerry Storm, BlackBerry Bold, most video capable cell phones, the Microsoft Zune, Sony PSP and even some ebook readers.

The Tiko stand retails for about $8.00 and can be purchased here here

3. Another alternative for holding iPods/iPhones is the Incipio Kickstand Leather Case for iPod touch 2G link here for about $24.00

Leather iPod/iPhone case

Note: Apple makes wrist band holders for iPods but the problem with these is that they still require you to bend your arm in an unnatural position to view the phone or iPod.

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By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Are you an avid video gamer or person that likes to read or work sitting upright on the couch or in bed? Or are you of wider than “average” girth? Keep in mind that average is not the norm these days. Recent statistics state that 62% of the American population is considered “obese.” A person is considered obese if his or her fat body weight is more that 30 percent of his or her total weight.

Funny thing is, office furniture is still made for the Hollywood ideal, the office workers of Mad Men days. If you don’t fit that body ideal, we are not going to lecture you about the need to lose fat. Being height/weight proportionate is the healthier goal. However, getting fit is not something you can do overnight. So what do you do to sit comfortably when you have a wide girth?

A good backrest for people with wider girth or those that want a bed rest for reading or working sitting upright in bed or on a couch is the Orbus Forme Wide-back Backrest. It’s also great for gamers that rest on a bed or couch playing video games. (Of course, if you get a Wii Fit you can game and get fit!)

Obus Forme Wide-back Backrest

On Amazon for $66.66

Orbus Forme Wide Backrest


According to the manufacturer:

• 3 inches wider and 1 inch taller than normal backrest
• Enhances overall posture and provides relief from pain from poor posture
• S-shaped frame
• Portable and lightweight

Amazon Reviewers Say:

• It is the PERFECT “pillow” with back support and the BEST I have found for sitting up to read or use a laptop in bed. It offers the kind of support that other sitting up in bed pillows don’t. I think I have tried every style of bed pillow ever made for reading in bed without being 100% satisfied with their performance and my comfort. So, I am delighted with this use for this backrest. This backrest nearly hits the 100% mark as a reading pillow.

• The one big problem with this backrest is that the curve of it sticks far from the chair making the space where your legs go is cut to half of what it originally was. My back feels better but now my legs hurt because they hang over the edge too far because of the curve of the backrest.

However, if your chair allow for the backrest and you are of wider than Mad Men ideal girth, this backrest may be the perfect fit for you! Until they start making wider, better cushioned office chairs.

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By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Are you shorter than average or do you simply want a better back support than your current chair or car seat offers? Do you have lumbar back pain or a back disorder that requires extra support for your back?

Why settle for uncomfortable car seats and office chairs when you can easily upgrade your seating setup with a foam cushion and backrest!

For about $100-$150 you can put together your own “ergo” seating. We’ve reviewed many of the products out there and found the best prices and reviews on Amazon. You may be able to find the same or similar products elsewhere, but you will pay about 10-30% more from other vendors.

To save you time, we pasted the links and pictures of the products in a few separate posts about backrests and seat cushions. Find the situation that describes your issue (you are taller than average, shorter than average, of wider girth than average, etc.) and read the associated post to find out about the product we think may help you best. This post describes backrests for people of shorter or medium height, about 5′ to 5′-6″.

We also included pertinent tips from the Amazon customer reviews so you don’t have to wade through them yourself. However, if you want to read all the reviews yourself, simply go to the Amazon product link and check out the customer reviews.

For medium height to shorter people that want a simple backrest with lumbar support:

Orthopedic Lowback Backrest Support By Obus Forme

On Amazon for $68.39

Orbus Lowback Backrest

According to the manufacturer:

• Patented, polycarbonate S-shaped frame that promotes correct spinal alignment and proper posture; guaranteed for life. Includes a patented, removable and adjustable lumbar pad that provides additional support to your lower back by filling in your lumbar curve.

• Portable and lightweight, turns any chair into an ergonomic seating system; use it in your home, office, vehicle, or anywhere else you sit.

• Polyurethane foam protects the frame.

• Hypoallergenic, brushed nylon cover can be removed and sponge washed.

Amazon Reviewers Say:

• Sounds cliché, but this backrest is worth its weight in gold to me. My back used to get so sore sitting in an office chair all day. Now that I have the backrest my back actually feels BETTER after having sat in my office chair for a while. It’s always good to get up and stretch now and then though. If the seat cushion of your chair is not firm enough, I recommend purchasing this backrest along with the Obus Forme seat cushion that helps to keep you in the proper position.

• If you’re a big person, you may want to consider the wide backrest version. I’m less than 125 pounds, and this particular (smaller) model is fine for me.

• It comes with a detachable pillow that can be placed wherever it’s most comfortable for lumbar support. It attaches with Velcro and could probably eventually fray the seat cover if it’s moved around a lot.

• It’s high back allows for complete back support.

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By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Are you taller than average or have a long torso and find that standard office chairs don’t offer you enough back support?

Why settle for uncomfortable office chairs when you can easily upgrade your seating setup with a easy to use backrest!

For about $100-$150 you can put together your own “ergo” seating to accommodate your height requirements. We’ve reviewed many of the products out there and found the best prices and reviews on Amazon. You may be able to find the same or similar products elsewhere, but you will pay about 10-30% more from other vendors.

To save you time, we pasted the links and pictures of the products in a few separate posts about backrests and seat cushions. This post covers the need for back support for those that are either taller than average height or have long torsos.

We also included pertinent tips from the Amazon customer reviews so you don’t have to wade through them yourself. However, if you want to read all the reviews yourself, simply go to the Amazon product link below and check out the customer reviews.

If you are above average height, or if you simply want extra head and neck support for your chair, try the:

Obus Forme High-back Backrest

On Amazon for $79.95

Orbus Forme High-back Backrest

According to the manufacturer:
• Enhances overall posture and provides relief from pain from poor posture
• 8 inches taller for head and neck rest
• S-shaped frame
• Portable and lightweight
• Black

Amazon Reviewers Say:
• It has a lumbar support that is moveable and it is high enough to support my head comfortably.

• I have used this product before and this was to replace one, which I had worn out. I have 3 at the moment – 1 for my easy chair, 1 at my office at work and 1 in my car. At various times I have lent one of these to friends and the biggest problem is to get them to return them.

• This is not a magic cure for all back problems but it is magic if it helps your back problem and since it is high back it does seem to help many people.

• The height of the product works well with my long torso.

• The calzone-sized pillow attaches with Velcro. Depending on preference, it can be discarded or placed at the lumbar spine or head.

• The product is sturdy but not immortal. After a couple of years of steady use, the joints attaching the top third of the piece to the lower part are prone to break.

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By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Do you get neck and shoulder pain when you drive for long periods? Or do you find that your office chair does not provide enough lumbar and/or upper back support?

Why settle for uncomfortable car seats and office chairs when you can easily upgrade your seating setup with a foam cushion and backrest!

For about $100-$150 you can put together your own “ergo” seating. We’ve reviewed many products out there and found the best prices and reviews on Amazon. You may be able to find the same or similar products elsewhere, but you will pay about 10-30% more from other vendors.

To save you time, we pasted the links and pictures of the products in a few separate posts about backrests and seat cushions. Find the situation that describes your issue (you are taller than average, shorter than average, of wider girth than average, etc.) and read the associated post to find out about the product we think may help you best.

We also included pertinent tips from the Amazon customer reviews so you don’t have to wade through them yourself. However, if you want to read all the reviews yourself, simply go to the link and check out the customer reviews.

One thing to keep in mind when fitting your chair with lumbar and other support, is that you need to make sure your upper back is still in contact with the seat back. According to our ergonomic experts, with a small pillow or half cushion in your lumbar region, you may actually be putting too much of a curve into your low back and forcing your upper back to hunch forward.

First off, a top-rated seat cushion for back support that extends beyond a simple lumbar cushion is the:

Obus Ultra Forme Backrest

On Amazon for $59.99

Orbus Ultra Forme BackRest

According to the manufacturer:
• Clinically proved to reduce lower back pain by 50%
• Designed for back pain sufferers, including those with chronic an severe back pain
• Encourages proper alignment between pelvis and spine
• Improves circulation and reduces pressure on the back
• Patented “S” shaped frame of backrest helps prevent & relieve back pain
• Small, medium and large sizes available

Amazon Reviewers Say:

• These are easy to use and really improve your posture, keeping your back pain free, especially on those long road trips.

• This seat works to put your whole spine in an optimum curve. It is not just a lumbar support.

• This product does force you to sit up straight, which in turn prevents you from slouching your shoulders. This may be somewhat uncomfortable at first, but it sure beats the back pain that I get from leaning back or slouching over in my chair too long.

• It’s not like a super comfort back cushion, but it serves to straight your position and gives you relief. I don’t ever feel back pain when I have this on my chair and my co-workers complain alot about their pain.

• It’s not a cushion, it really a nice back support. It’s like the way I described, a board with foam on it and it can be very comforting. I recommend this product for anyone who works in an office all day. Its a must have and it has straps for you to strap to your chair.

• Long torso people may need the large size versus the medium.

• Another reviewer gave the actual dimensions to make product ordering easier:


Obus Forme Ultra Backrest Dimensions:

Approx. (H X L X W and Weight)
Small Obus Ultra Forme Backrest – 25 x 12.5 x 3.25 — 2.8 lbs
Medium Obus Ultra Forme Backrest – 26 x 12.5 x 3.5 — 3 lbs
LargeObus Ultra Forme Backrest – 28.5 x 12.5 x 3.75 — 3.2 lbs

Obus Forme Ultra Backrest Recommendations:
Ultra Forme Backrest Size Chart:
SMALL Backrest – Under 5’2″
MEDIUM Backrest – 5’2″ – 6’2″
LARGE Backrest – Over 6’2″

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