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Articles

DIVADEND – A revolution in footwear

While standing in line at my local Peet’s, a fit-looking woman in workout gear noticed my Divadend pumps and asked where I purchased them.  I enthusiastically replied the shoes are my own brand and stepped out of one to show her up close, she exclaimed “You have bunions!”.    She has bunions as well and was delighted to discover that not only the shoes  fit  but  also camouflage bunions.

Tan_Heel2Toe_Stacked_COMPRESSED_AGAIN_grandeI’ve had bunions for as long as I can remember.  In my early 20s while being fitted for ski boots, I was surprised to learn my foot shape, I took for granted, was considered irregular.  And no, my bunions are not the result of wearing the wrong shoes.  It drives me crazy when people imply I caused them.  I definitively knew  the shape of my foot  was genetic, predisposing my bunions, when I noticed the same foot shape on my 10 year old daughter.

Before we started Divadend I spent many nights with achy bunions.  Mornings would start with me surveying my shoe selection to decide which shoes I could bear to wear that day and then planning an outfit accordingly.  In fact, that’s how Caroline and I came up with the concept that Divadend would end the debate between the shoes we love and the shoes we wear. I certainly wasn’t loving the shoes I was choosing to accommodate my achy bunions.

Around the time we started formulating the idea to start Divadend, I began seeing physical therapist Kathi Fairbend MS. RPT. for posture-related issues.  Since she is one of the most knowledgeable people about the human body that I’ll ever meet, I shared the idea of starting Divadend. I expected her to question how  would be able to start a shoe line with a full time career, three young kids and no prior experience in footwear or any related industry. Instead, Kathi enthusiastically replied that she would be happy to advise us about anatomy and ergonomics because she felt like we would fill an important void in women’s footwear options. Then she said, “I have spent time in shoe factories with my father who was shoe manufacturer. As a result, I understand sizing and the importance of the foot bed. I see the results every day in patients that have poorly made and poorly fitting shoes”. It was an exhilarating moment when I felt like we were going to really make this happen. And we did!

As Kathi worked with me as both my physical therapist and an advisor to Divadend, she pointed out that I, like many people with bunions, wasn’t engaging my toes when I walked. When you don’t engage your toes, you lose muscle strength and flexibility in your feet resulting in decreased balance and increased  development of the  bunions as the mobility and arches deteriorate increasing foot pain.

Over the past several years, we have developed over 30 iterations of the Greenway pump to get the construction and fit just right. There were early versions when I would begrudgingly admit my feet killed after wearing shoes intended to be comfortable. Each time we got stuck with why a version of the shoe that  wasn’t performing, we would take that version to Kathi who would patiently diagnose that the pitch was too steep or the toe box too low or any one of dozens of other shortcomings we corrected.

During a physical therapy appointment the other day, Kathi remarked that my feet have become stronger and more flexible.  A large part of my improvement is  due to wearing  Divadend shoes almost every day. Now my toes engage when I walk and the arch support takes pressure off the bunion area.  Also, I’ve developed a habit, when barefoot in the shower, to manually arrange my big toes in a straight position and simultaneously grip the tile floor with all my toes  which helps  strengthen the muscles  in my arch. During standing mat work in Pilates class, I repeat my barefoot shower routine and notice improved  balance.

The easy steps of wearing shoes with a foot bed, that allows normal stance, as Divadend shoes do, that engage your toes allowing a normal gait and doing some simple strengthening exercises  can result in improvements in balance, mobility and decreased pain levels.

Do order a pair now and see how comfortable your feet will be ALL day!

Articles

Juvent Machine: Relieve Chronic Pain, Counteract Osteoporosis, and Promote Muscle Development

The Fairbend Method does not include the use of exercise equipment. However, the Juvent Micro-Vibrating Platform is a medical device worthy of incorporating into your healthy exercise and relaxation program.

What is it? When you step on the platform it calibrates- allowing mechanical stimuli to produce kinetic waves specific for your body. The vibrations are very gentle mechanical waves that increase circulation and exercise the entire musculoskeletal system, which increases muscle and joint activity. Many notice a reduction in pain and increased ability to stretch tight muscles.

Numerous research studies lead to the Juvent being labeled a Class-1 medical device. A clinical significance of these studies show an increase in bone density along with an increase in stability and balance – so vital for the prevention and management of osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Proper use of the Juvent recruits a balance of postural muscles, helping sound posture to become natural. Scoliosis patients also notice improved sensation of an upright posture.

The vibrations are felt first in the feet and calves and move upward to the base of the skull or occiput. When these waves reach the occiput they also stimulate the occipital lobe of the brain, thereby reducing stress and increasing relaxation.

If you engage in Mind-Spa modalities, this is a perfect complement to floatation  and use of an infrared sauna.

  Maximum benefit from the Juvent is best achieved by remembering to: 

  1. Engage length of feet and have toes on the platform
  2. Relax knees.
  3. Engage lower abdominal muscles
  4. Broaden shoulders
  5. Create a Long neck and hold head above shoulders

Make an appointment and enjoy the benefits!

Articles, Ergonomics

Stretching for the Computer Athlete

Prevent injuries in 15 minutes a day

Cornell University research has found that keying for 8 hours is, for your fingers, equivalent to walking 10 miles for your feet. If you are keyboarding every day, you need to prepare like an athlete to prevent injury: Stretch. Drink water. Take breaks.

By “stretching”, I mean taking 15 minutes every day to stretch the large muscles of your body: your trunk, your arms, your legs. Stretching these muscles helps prevent neck and low back pain – the most frequent and disabling injuries to computer athletes. Here are some pointers to help you work stretching into your daily routine:

Who should stretch?
Everyone should stretch: children, adults, men, women. If you have an injury, you should be stretching and strengthening the site of the injury.

What is the best time to stretch? First thing in the morning, stretch for 15 minutes.

Do I have to stretch first thing in the morning? People who stretch in the morning are most likely to stretch every day. But as long as you stretch every day, the time doesn’t matter.

How can I make time to stretch? Link stretching to some other activity. For example, stretch while you watch the evening news on TV. Do three quick stretches before you eat lunch.

I forgot to stretch? Keep at it. It takes 21 days to make a habit. Set an alarm to remind you. Post a note on your computer.

Where should I stretch? Anyplace that is convenient for you: living room, bedroom, hotel room, office.

Do I have to lie on the floor? To stretch your back, lying on the floor is most effective. But you can do many helpful stretches while sitting or standing.

I don’t have 15 minutes. Then stretch for 5. Even 5 minutes a day will make a difference – and that’s far more effective than 35 minutes of stretching once a week.

Start right now. My DVD “Stretch Away Back Pain” guides you through the stretches, showing you proper pace and technique.

Articles, Ergonomics

Law, the Painful Profession

How can attorneys and paralegals counteract the effects
of long hours and temporary work spaces?

Of all the professions, computer–related injuries seem most common among attorneys and paralegals. As I visit law firms to assist with office layout and equipment choices, I see a high proportion of attorneys in pain. Even third-year law students seem exceptionally prone to injury. Put Perry Mason, Atticus Finch, and Ally McBeal in a courtroom together, and Attorney Mason would be nursing sore wrists, Attorney Finch would be complaining of neck pain, and Attorney Beal would be in denial: “That isn’t going to happen to me”.

What makes the law such a hazardous profession?
Lawyers are driven by billable hours, and they sit for long periods of time.
Lawyers work with lots of paper and thick documents.
Lawyers frequently work on laptops away from their primary work area.

Here’s how attorneys and paralegals can mitigate each of these factors:

Too much time in the chair. Attorneys experience back and neck pain because they spend so much time sitting. The compression force on the lower back is 100 pounds greater when sitting than when standing.

What to do: Take time to adjust your workspace, including your chair. Sit back in your chair; don’t hunch. Move around at least once every 35 minutes. Stand up to answer the telephone. Instead of sending an email, walk to a coworker’s desk and chat. Try using a stand-up desk.

Paper everywhere. When I consult with lawyers, they are surrounded with paper. We may live in modern times but papers are on the desk and on the floor. Some attorneys are reaching from their keyboards down to the floor to look at documents that may be many hundreds of pages.

What to do: Get an inline document holder and use it. When your monitor, documents, and keyboard all are centered around the same midline, you reduce strain on your neck. To review documents, sit at a desk, not your computer station. Use a reading slant to put your papers at an angle.

Ad hoc workspaces. Especially while traveling, attorneys keyboard in places not meant for computer use: The hotel cocktail table puts a strain on their wrists. The too-soft, too-low conference room chair puts pressure on their backs. The constant use of PDAs for hundreds of emails makes their hands hurt.

What to do: Even if you expect to borrow a desk just to answer a few emails, take a moment to adjust the borrowed chair so you have correct posture. Put your laptop on a surface at the right height for keyboarding, and raise the back about an inch and a half with a book. With the intensity of legal work, a few emails can turn into hours crouched in an uncomfortable position.

Articles, Ergonomics

PDA’s and the Price of Convenience

Is convenience on–the–road making your thumbs hurt?

Have you seen the comic strip about a teenager who sends hundreds of text messages? By the last panel, she holds aloft a throbbing, bandaged thumb, six times normal size. The joke: She has “carpal thumb–el” syndrome. While people smile at the idea of what is often called “Blackberry thumb”, sore thumbs are not a laughing matter. For sufferers, thumb tendonitis can be total agony. This is a repetitive motion injury associated with portable devices like PDAs and phones.

You probably associate repetitive motion injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome, with desktops and laptops, but they are invading the handheld world. As the number of mobile devices increases, more people have sore thumbs. Fortunately, these devices–like any tool–can be used safely and ergonomically. Take a little care, and you can enjoy their convenience in comfort:

Send strong messages. Use your device as it is intended, to send and receive short messages. Type documents at your computer workstation.

Hold steady. When the device bobbles, you move your thumbs more — and more rapidly. Avoid extra movement by holding steady. Use all eight fingers to support your PDA while you type. Hold on with two hands.

Remember. These are accessories, not your primary computer or your primary means of communication.

Take breaks and stretch to prevent injury.

In addition, the principles that prevent injury when working at computers or gardening also apply to using your mobile device:

Stretch. This easy forearm stretch is good for your hands, too.

Correct your posture. Are you curled into a “C” to use your phone? Keep your arms at your side and your head up. Don’t hang your head.

Put it down. Look out the window. Chat with a colleague. Think about the big picture. It’s good for you.

Check out Kathi’s DVD “Stretch Away Neck, Shoulder, and Arm Pain”
to help establish an effective routine!

Articles, Ergonomics

Working at Home: Shed Some Light on the Subject

How to light your home office

Despite the long-ago invention of the electric light bulb, many of us work in the dark. Do your eyes feel dry? Do they ache? Do you constantly need to change the prescription of your eyeglasses? If so, look carefully at the lighting in your home office or workplace. You can control three factors:

Is the room bright enough? Does the environment make you feel cheerful and invigorated?

Can you see to complete your task? Is it easy to read a book, find function keys on your keyboard, see a handwritten column of figures?

Is there glare coming off your screen? Do reflections make it hard to see the screen?

Room lighting
However much light you have in your home office, bring in another lamp. The home office is a stepchild, collecting cast-offs from around the house. Lighting is expensive, and frequently there isn’t enough. In my office, there are a task lamp, two standing lamps that provide ambient lighting, and two windows. Ambient light should cast a sufficient glow. Library lights that illuminate a tiny circle on a desk or table do not provide ambient lighting.

Task lighting
To read fine print or see your keyboard, you need flexible task lighting. Depending on what you’re doing, you should be able to adjust the light so it shines where you need it most. The best task lights:
Have an arm with an elbow.
Are sturdy enough to stay put when you position them.
Have a shade that cuts down on glare.
Don’t get hot.

Glare
As you look at your monitor, do you see the reflection of a ceiling light or the outdoors behind you? Do you sometimes feel as if you’re looking into a mirror? Here are some ways to cut down on glare:
Move your monitor so it is perpendicular to the window or light.
Turn off your overhead light and bring in a floor lamp.
Use a dimmer on your overhead light.

Quick Fix: If the lamp at your desk isn’t providing enough light, put a book or two under it. When you raise the lamp, light disperses over a larger area.

Articles, Ergonomics

Eyes On The Prize

How to work productively and protect your vision

Computer users know that it’s important to change position in order to avoid overuse injuries to hands, shoulders, back and neck. In the same way, repetitive strain can harm the small muscles around your eyes, making it difficult to work comfortably – and even harming your vision.

With a few simple precautions, you can dramatically improve the work environment for those baby blues. Here’s how:

Follow the 20/20 rule. Take regular breaks. Every 20 minutes, look away 20 feet for 20 seconds. If you’re near a window, gaze into the distance. If you’re in a cubicle, focus on the wall outside your entryway.

Clean your screen every day. Your eyes work harder when you’re peering through dust and dirt. Do not use water or fancy cleaners-just dust with a soft lint-free cloth or screen wipes.

Be like Goldilocks. Not too close, not too far. Keep that screen 18 to 24 inches away from your eyes. That’s just right.

Mix big and small. Working on a long document all day? Change the way you view it to make the text larger or smaller. In Microsoft Word, click “View” and “Zoom” to see your choices. That way, you’ll use different eye muscles throughout the day.

Make sure your screen stands up straight. You wouldn’t watch television at a strong angle. Don’t use your computer that way either.

Choose a soothing color. Change your desktop background color to olive green. For Windows users, here’s how:
At the Start menu, click on “Control Panel”
Click “Appearance and Themes”
Click “Change the desktop background”
At the “Appearance” tab, select the “Olive Green” color scheme.
Click “Apply”. Then click “OK”.

The big picture: Everything you do to make life easier on your eyes makes life easier on you.

Articles, Ergonomics

Mousing Around

Like tennis elbow, mouse shoulder is painful and preventable

Stretch. . . s t r e t c h . . . s t r e t c h . . . s t r e t c h . . . snap! Overstretched or overused, your tendons can react like a worn out elastic band. Irritated tendons are inflamed tendons, and inflamed tendons hurt.

People who play tennis know this pain as “tennis elbow”. Computer users feel it as “mouse shoulder”. This is the pain that results when one or more of the tendons attached to your rotator cuff become irritated, brittle or torn. You might find it difficult to put on your coat. You may feel pain when you reach forward. Sleeping on the affected arm might be uncomfortable enough to wake you.

You can escape this sort of overuse injury by paying careful attention to the way you use your mouse:

Stay in line. Your mouse should be in line with your keyboard. You should be able to reach the mouse easily. Don’t stretch forward. Don’t reach up or down. Just make a smooth motion and keep your elbow close to your body.

Check your fit. Different size feet require different sizes of shoes. Different sized hands require different sizes of mouse or trackball. If you’re clenching your hand all day, you’ll irritate your tendons. You shouldn’t have to grip your mouse; rather, aim to keep your whole hand relaxed.

Don’t bobble. Your keyboard support should be firm. If the support isn’t firm, it will move when you put your weight on the mouse, requiring you to apply more pressure to click. The greater the pressure, the greater the strain. You want to use as little pressure as possible, so you require as little of your hand as possible.

Don’t overuse. Take regular breaks, at least once every 30 minutes. Stretch and relax your hands. Learn keystroke commands so you rely less on the mouse. Here are a few for Windows and Office:
Ctrl C = Copy
Ctrl X = Cut
Ctrl V = Paste
Ctrl Z = Undo
Ctrl-Esc = Go to the Start menu
Alt F4 = Close the active application

Here’s the cheese: Keep your hand relaxed. Keep your arms close to your body. A clenched fist and an extended arm lead to pain.

Articles, Ergonomics

The Computer Injury That Is Not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Is your little finger numb?

Many computer users worry about hand problems. People with hand pain or numbness often assume they have carpal tunnel syndrome (CT). But a less known problem could be the source of the pain. Thoracic outlet syndrome hurts just as intensely as CT. It is caused by poor posture as you sit at the keyboard. The good news is that these and other computer-related injuries will go away. With good posture and work habits, you can be pain free again.

What is Thoraic Outlet Syndrome?

The thoracic outlet is a space between your collarbone and first rib. Through that space go major nerves, arteries, and veins that supply your whole upper extremity. Poor posture for a sustained period of time makes the thoracic outlet smaller and puts pressure on those nerves, arteries, and veins. This can cause pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in your shoulders, upper arm, elbow, forearm, wrist, hand, and fingers.

What causes Thoraic Outlet Syndrome? Anything you do that pushes your body into a “C” shape with your shoulders hunched forward can cause Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TO):
Sitting hunched over a laptop.
Leaning forward at your desk chair.
Sitting in a chair without upper back support.

How is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome different than carpal tunnel? Sitting at your desk, raise your elbows to shoulder height and point your forearms toward the ceiling. Your arms and your head should form the shape of a letter “E” lying on its side. If your hands feel odd or tingly, you could have or be at risk of TO. In carpal tunnel, there is never any problem with little finger. In TO, there are symptoms in all of the fingers and all of the hand.

How can you prevent Thoracic Outlet Syndrome? With correct posture and exercise, you can prevent or cure TO.

Posture:
Sit with your upper back against the back of your chair.
Hold your head straight.
Adjust your chair correctly.

Exercise:
Walk to strengthen the muscles at the front and back of your spine.

Articles, Ergonomics

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Not a permanent injury

The words “carpal tunnel syndrome” strike fear into the hearts of knowledge workers.

What is the carpal tunnel? All the tendons that make your fingers work the keyboard go through a tunnel in your wrist made up of eight carpal bones and a thick band of ligament. Nine tendons and one nerve go through that tunnel.

Where is the carpal tunnel? To find your carpal tunnel, put one elbow at your side with your forearm and palm facing the ceiling. Take the index finger and thumb of your opposite hand and put it around your wrist as close to your hand as you can get. This is the carpal tunnel.

What creates carpal tunnel syndrome? Anything that takes up space and puts pressure on the nerve will create carpal tunnel syndrome. For example, swelling due to pregnancy can cause carpal tunnel syndrome.

Why does keying cause carpal tunnel syndrome? If you’re working without breaks, the tendons that power your fingers become hot and swollen. They take up extra space and put pressure on the nerve.

What are the symptons of carpal tunnel syndrome? Symptoms can include pain, numbness or tingling in the second and third fingers, half of the fourth finger, and the thumb. Your fingers might feel swollen.

What are NOT symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome? If your little finger hurts, you don’t have carpal tunnel syndrome. If your wrist hurts, you probably don’t have carpal tunnel syndrome.

How can you prevent carpal tunnel syndrome? The number one cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is poor posture at the keyboard and incorrect arm position.
Keep your shoulder blades against the back of your chair.
Keep your elbows at 90 degrees and your wrists straight – not bent down or up.
Drink water while you keyboard.
Pay attention to what you’re feeling and recognize the first signs.

Is carpal tunnel syndrome permanent? No. With a change of habits, people recover. Improve your posture. Drink more water. Stretch forearms regularly. Rest between times at the keyboard.

Are you worried about carpal tunnel syndrome? Don’t procrastinate. The sooner your get help, the easier it is to cure.

Correct posture, rest and water keep your hands healthy.

Check out Kathi’s DVD “Stretch Away Neck, Shoulder, and Arm Pain”
to help establish an effective routine!