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Bent-Over Support

To make it easier to maintain the bent-over position
  [vote for,

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 controversial.

Obviously 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 strain?

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 separating.

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.


Vernon, Feb 03 2014

A nice picture of an arch with trapezoidal blocks http://www.studyblu...tory-2/deck/1440040
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]

lifting belt http://www.allegrom...g-belt-p500307.html
[Voice, Feb 04 2014]

Strong front, strong back. Front_20Brace
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Feb 04 2014]

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       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
JesusHChrist, Feb 03 2014

       I agree with [21] 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.
scad mientist, Feb 04 2014

       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.
ytk, Feb 04 2014

       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 time—mention 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.
ytk, Feb 04 2014

       //bad scissors// umm... I've got calluses from mouses and carving knives, not to mention the occasional RSI from poorly engineered PC keyboards.
FlyingToaster, Feb 04 2014

       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.   

       Kinda sucks...   

       As for the keystone approach to back-bracing, why not do the same but backwards... and so therefore frontwards? [link]   


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