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Some quick Googling failed to find something like what I
have in mind here. There exist various sorts of back
supports, but they are mostly intended to help someone
avoid injury while lifting something, and whether or not
they actually work as intended appears to be somewhat
it would be nice to have a back support that
actually/guaranteed does what it is intended to do. So, let
us consider that certain tasks are best performed in the
bent-over position. After a while, this can be an
uncomfortable position, with the back muscles
complaining. So, what might we design to reduce the
Multiple notions come to mind. For example, you could
consider a framework on caster wheels, that surrounds the
body and has various straps that keep the torso from
bending over more than a certain amount --which means
the strain can be carried by those straps and the
framework, instead of the back muscles. But that is
rather large and cumbersome.
A simpler device might be a framework that girdles the
waist and is belted to the pelvis and hips (not unlike a
properly belted seat belt in a car). This framework would
also extend over the bent body, with support straps, so
that a fair amount of the load can be carried by the straps
and framework to the pelvis, instead of by the back
muscles and spine.
But I'd like something simpler and more elegant even than
that. Let us digress to consider the stones in a classic
archway. Each stone block is shaped somewhat like a
trapezoid, with a long side, a short side, and two equal
angled sides connecting them. Suppose we attached the
long sides of the neighboring blocks, in the arch, with
hinges. We could open up the arch from underneath, and
all the blocks would stay connected. We can also close the
arch back to its normal shape, but we can't make its curve
any "tighter" because the hinges keep the long sides from
So, let us take that information to a much-lighter-weight
material than stone, such as plastic, or even hollow metal
shapes. Note that we will need to do SOME modification of
the shapes, different from those used in a classic arch.
We would still need a belted pelvic girdle as the foundation
for our connected "blocks". The blocks should be located
inside a flexible container that lets them move smoothly
within. The container can have a wide band of cloth, or
several straps, that goes around the upper torso.
When standing straight, the opened-up arch goes right up
the back. When you bend over, the arch only allows so
much "bend" as the short sides of the blocks start
contacting each other, and the hinges at the long sides
prevent their separation. Therefore you can only bend
over so far, and if you relax, the load is now being carried
by the cloth/straps and the arch, to the pelvis, instead of
your back muscles.
A nice picture of an arch with trapezoidal blocks
As indicated in the main text. The Idea involves connecting the long sides only, with hinges. Also note that while the image includes a keystone, it isn't essential. [Vernon, Feb 03 2014]
[Voice, Feb 04 2014]
Strong front, strong back.
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Feb 04 2014]
||I used one of those really thick rubber tubes attached to
the ceiling in a loop at one job I had, to allow me to pick
up a lot of heavy stuff and put it in boxes. I would just
bounce from one place to the other and then back again,
with my head and arms hanging through the rubber loop
that was looped around a pipe on the ceiling.
It worked really well for a while but then I quit the job
because there was too much lifting. Rubber hosing. Like
maybe latex or something. I know we've gone over it on
the HB before, and there's a link to a catalog of rubber
tubing. Does that help? I didn't actually read the whole
idea. Let me try that now.
||Ok now that I read it it sounds like that would work and
provide support all along your spine rather than just at the
top like a rubber tube. The rubber tube worked pretty well
though. Instead of attaching it to the ceiling you could
attach it to a brace like the one you describe
||I agree with  that it shouldn't have a hard limit. It seems like a variable springiness tuned to suport the full weight of your torso at whatever angle you are at would be ideal. Alternately a heavy-duty model could require muscle force to bend it, resulting in even less work to lift a heavy object from the bent over position. Maybe the deluxe model can have a selector lever so it can be in the balanced mode most of the time, but instantly switched to stiff mode before you bend over to pick up something heavy.
||Also it seems like the primary bend is at the hips when leaning over, so in addition to supporting weight on the hips/pelvis, but you'd need a rod going down the back of your legs with a strap around the front just above the knee. Ideally some mechanism could be created so there isn't much force when moving one leg a a time, but there is a lot of support when both hips bend together.
||Of course the idea of a powered exoskeleton for enhancing strenght is pretty well explored, but I like the idea of a simple non-powered one to allow for better efficiency.
||I am in a union. One of the things my union requires of its
members is to complete a workplace safety training course,
which mainly consists of a video followed by an open book
test. One of the things that was demonstrated in the video
is how to perform a golf pickup. When you're bending
over to pick something up, you extend one leg 90 degrees
behind you, and preferably support yourself with one hand,
as if you're leaning on a club to pick up a golf ball.
||Since taking the course, I have seen virtually every safety
protocol described in the video blatantly violated at one
time or another, but every single member of my union
knows how to do the golf pickup.
||Nah, it's a white-collar union. The safety advice was
more along the lines of make sure your shoelaces are
properly tied and don't block a fire exit. To tell the
truth it was mostly a waste of timemention the
safety course to anybody in my union and you'll
invariably get eye-rolling and head-shaking, but
damned if they don't remember the golf pickup.
||//bad scissors// umm... I've got calluses from mouses and carving knives, not to mention the occasional RSI from poorly engineered PC keyboards.
||You just hack off your calluses to let the new ones through. I thought everyone knew that.
||Yes, well, collective insanity is alive and kickin for sure. Canada's health care system looks real good on paper, and I know there are many worse systems to be had, but horror stories abound... and I've witnessed and can corroborate far too many now.
||As for the keystone approach to back-bracing, why not do the same but backwards... and so therefore frontwards? [link]