A: Human spines are great at walking around upright. But most of us spend many hours a day bent forward doing something. The upper back hunches and the head and neck start to jut forward. This puts huge extra load on the muscles and joints of the neck, because the head is no longer easily balanced above the shoulders. So the muscles fatigue and strain, and the neck joints can lock, causing headache, neck and upper back pain, and even pain spreading down the shoulders and arms. A whiplash accident or other impact can also jolt the joints so they jam up.
A: It's the underlying tight bent-forward upper and middle back that drives most neck problems. So you have treat this part of the spine too, or the neck won't come right. The Backpod™ is a logical, practical means to let you stretch out the very tough, tightened material of the upper and middle back. This usually means lying back on the Backpod™ for several minutes at home.
A: In almost all cases, yes. The Backpod™ and its programme fit in really well with all the usual treatment approaches to backs and necks - physiotherapy, chiropractic, osteopathy, Pilates, gym strengthening, yoga, anti-inflammatory medications, etc. However health professionals are often too busy or too specialized to cover all of the elements needed for a lasting cure. The Backpod™ and its strengthening exercises, stretch, massage and posture advice provide what is usually needed to get most necks working properly, and keep them doing so. If in doubt, just ask your health practitioner.
A: Most health practitioners are too busy or too specialized to cover all the treatment elements needed for a neck to work properly. These are usually: massage and stretching for scarred tightened muscles, posture advice so you don't hold the neck in a way that strains it, specific muscle strengthening so you CAN hold it correctly, and freeing up the tight bent upper and middle back which is where it all usually starts from. The Backpod™ and its programme cover all of these elements, though you might need further help from a health professional for your specific problem.
A: Stand sideways on to a friend holding your head in your usual way. Your earlobe should sit vertically above the point of your shoulder. This means the head is balanced correctly over the shoulders, the bones and joints of the neck are under minimal load and the muscles aren't straining. The more your head juts forward, and your chin pokes out, the more the muscles and joints in the neck will strain and jam. Look around - you will see people whose heads sit out in front of their chests - and they have big problems.
A: You can push a couple of tennis balls into a sock and lie back on that, and it's a step in the right direction. But it can't give anything like as strong a stretch on the spine as the Backpod™, and usually you'll need that strength. Here's why - the material that tightens down around the joints and bones of a stiffened, bent forward back is called collagen. Up until the 1960s before nylon came along they used to string tennis rackets with it - derived from pigs and goats. You could still hit a ball at 100 kph from a 'catgut' strung racket - it's THAT strong. That's why you need the leverage from the Backpod™, and over several minutes. Also the Backpod™ can give a specific stretch to the rib joints just out to the side of the spine, and the sock won't.
A: he first time - yes. The Backpod™ can give a really strong stretch - which your spine usually needs. The three pillows are a way of starting gently. Use enough pillows so that you feel a bit of stretch discomfort when you're lying back on the Backpod™ - but only a bit. If it's too sore, then you're trying to do too much too soon, and just add another pillow. If you can't feel anything, then you're not doing a useful stretch, so take away a pillow or more than one. When you can lie back on the Backpod™ with no pillows and no pain at all, then congratulations - your spine is moving freely and well, as it's supposed to.
A:A bit of mild stretch discomfort is fine. It's like doing a muscle stretch - it's not doing anything useful unless you can feel the stretch. This is mildly uncomfortable, but it's not doing any harm, and it's for only minutes anyway. Patients often describe it as "a good pain." It feels like it's doing the right thing - and it is. Of course you need to use your common sense - if any pain is acute and severe, even when you're using three or more pillows, stop and see your health professional.
A: Very probably. The Backpod™ and its programme are designed to treat the vast majority of upper back and neck problems. However your particular problem may be different from the usual pattern, perhaps because of a specific fall or impact. The simplest approach is to try it, and see your health professional if you need further skilled help, e.g. specific manipulation.
A: Yes. Just slip the Backpod™ between the seat and your shoulder blades and lean back onto it. This won't give as strong a stretch as lying down on it, and usually isn't so comfortable to relax onto. However if driving a car, you can use your arms on the steering wheel to brace back against the Backpod™ This can be really effective, because you can use it for 20-30 minutes at a time on a long trip. Move the Backpod™ up and down the middle and upper back, and also up to 50mm out to the side of the spine, staying in each position for a few minutes.
A:It won't harm them to just play on the Backpod™, but it shouldn't be used as a back treatment for children. Their bones and ligaments are still growing and still wonderfully flexible, so they don't need the strong spinal stretching the Backpod™ can provide. What is often extremely helpful for children are the other elements of the Backpod™ programme - the two strengthening exercises, the muscle stretch, the massage and the posture instruction.
A: Hardly any at all. When used sensibly, the Backpod™ is safe to use for almost all common musculoskeletal conditions involving the upper back, middle back and neck. It is a passive device and entirely under the user's control. The only force applied comes from the user's own upper body weight which they can lower gently to lie on the Backpod™. They can get off again if there are problems. See Section 3: 'Warnings and precautions' in the Users' Full Text pages on this website or the Backpod™ user guide.
A: No. The Backpod™ is intended to stretch out a bent-forward upper and middle back. Problem necks are usually already too hollowed, and the Backpod™ will make this worse. What will help it are the other elements of the Backpod™ programme, especially the massage.
A:It depends. If your low back problem is of the common sort with a bulging disc, then the Backpod™ will act as a lumbar support to increase the hollow in your low back and lessen the bulge of the disc. But if it's of the other common sort, where the low back is already too hollowed, then it will make that worse. Ask your health professional.
A: Slowly and carefully. The standard physiotherapy sequence is as follows: (1) Stand beside a stable chair or table and hold onto it with both hands. (2) Lower yourself one leg at a time into a kneeling upright position. (3) Drop one hand onto the floor, then the other, so you're now on your hands and knees. (4) Twist your pelvis and lower one hip onto the floor, then let yourself down onto your elbow and then onto your side, so you're lying on your side with your knees bent. (5) Roll over onto your back and onto the Backpod™. Your knees should stay bent up and feet flat on the floor. To get up again, work carefully through the same sequence in reverse. If necessary, get someone to help.
A: It's tremendously unlikely. The inner transparent electric-blue core of the Backpod™ is made of polycarbonate, and is so strong you could probably drive a small car over it. The apple-green flexible outer is made of Santoprene which is a surgical rubber-type material approved for use in hospitals - it will just bounce back again from any impact.
A: Wipe it with a damp cloth or wash it in warm water. Mild soap is fine if it really needs it. Talcum powder rubbed in occasionally will help keep the green flexible outer layer springy and supple.
A: Yes. The Backpod™ delivers a superb stretch for the calf muscles. Lay the Backpod™ face down on the floor. Place the ball of your foot or shoe on the top of the Backpod™ with your heel still on the floor, make sure your foot is pointing straight ahead, and lock your knee straight. Place your hands on a desk or the wall in front of you and lean forward cautiously. This is a great stretch for the gastrocnemius, the outer layer of the calf muscles. It can be very tough and tight, so a full four minute stretch is suitable. You're allowed to ease the pressure off from time to time. If needed, you can also stretch the soleus, which forms the inner layer of the calf muscles. Stretch in the same way, but this time with the knee bent.
Also, you can use the Backpod™ as a wobble board to build up the strength around a sprained ankle. If you've sprained an ankle ligament as an adolescent or adult, the acute swelling and pain will pass, but the ligament itself won't heal up back to the original tension. This is like having a flagpole with one guy-rope permanently a bit slack. It means there is a tendency for the ankle to roll in the same way again. You can compensate well by building up the muscle and tendon strength around the slightly floppy ankle. Standing on one foot requires every muscle and tendon in the area to work hard at not letting you fall over. Try it a few times a day until you can last for 60 seconds without falling over. Then aim for 60 seconds standing on the ball of your foot, with your heel slightly off the ground. When you can do that, aim for 60 seconds standing flat on the upside-down Backpod™. When you can do that easily, the ankle should have all the support strength it needs.