I started getting occasional back pain and spasms when I first began working in the newsroom. Glued to our desks and computer screens, my colleagues and I spent a majority of the day sedentary with our cellphones and laptops dragging us into perpetual default slouch. I would peel myself from the chair and feel like I was 22 going on 80. The ache and agony shooting from my back, neck and shoulders were unreal. Back pain is very common. Affecting about eight out of ten people at some point in their lifetimes, lower back pain is the most common cause of job-related disabilities, causing us to make frequent trips to the doctors or chiropractors, or worse, seeking out prescriptions with possible scary side effects that could outweigh the benefits.
On a mission to promote drug-free pain relief for issues caused by postural alignment, UK-based company Gravity has just opened up in the Hong Kong market to raise awareness about how posture can influence our health and wellness. A portable spinal balancing system, the Gravity system helps people out of pain by increasing mobility, flexibility and better balance. Fresh out from winning a prestigious local award earlier this month, the blue-hued device made its way to my desk for a trial run. Spoiler alert: I was very impressed.
A two-piece set, each box comes with a cradle that fits behind your neck and head and a triangular keystone that sits beneath your sacrum (the very strong bone at the bottom of the spine that supports the weight of the upper body). Working in tandem, the keystone raises and supports the pelvis, while the neck cradle cushions the head and neck to decompress two areas of the spine, relieving tension in the surrounding muscles and pressure around the nerve roots and vertebral discs all along the back. The orthopedic device can help reduce pain, correct posture and restore optimal spinal alignment when used for 20 minutes a day. Created by health practitioner and TCM expert Dr Shane Murnaghan after he broke his back in a car accident, the Gravity system spent seven years on the cutting room floor before making its debut. Pairing up with entrepreneur Mike Fisher, the Gravity team went on an episode of British reality television series Dragons’ Den before where he was turned down by five wealthy investors. One year after their snub, Gravity went on to win Hong Kong’s LOHAS award for Best Health and Wellness Product this year, expanded globally and is endorsed by celebrities like Prince Andrew, One Direction’s Niall Horan, sports professionals and athletes alike.
Testing out the Gravity system, I decide to take it with me on my weeklong trip to Los Angeles. Compact and lightweight, the idea of back relief sounds heavenly after a nonstop 12-hour flight. Lying back on a carpeted floor (a yoga mat works as well), the triangular base sits comfortably just below my lumbar spine, alleviating the tension in my anterior and posterior pelvic muscles within minutes. It takes a few adjustments the get the neck cradle to sit comfortably behind the junction of my head and neck but when I’m on target, my body feels as if it’s melting into the floor, unwinding the strain from my upper back and shoulders and rebalancing the body. 20 minutes and a power nap later, I feel refreshed, relaxed and ready to go. By Day Three, while it could be the jet lag talking, I’m definitely noticing that my sleep has improved. I can feel an increase in range of motion with reduced pain in my neck and shoulders.
Our modern lifestyle of texting, working on desks, or hunched over laptops, promotes the forward head posture that has serious effects on our health – for every inch your head extends forward, your neck has to support an additional ten pounds (or 4.5kg) of weight! This incorrect forward head posture can lead to chronic pain, improper breathing and pinched nerves. The Gravity system is designed to counter this head forward posture and retrain our head, neck to the upright position that will reduce tension and realign the back. Both the keystone and neck cradle work together to relieve tension in the surrounding muscles to lift pressure around the nerve roots and vertebral discs all along the back, relaxing tightness across the front of the chest and allowing the shoulders to open up. At the end of my week in back home, my posture looks improved. My shoulders are more pulled back, as they should be, making my posture more upright and aligned. I am starting to notice sooner when my shoulders are hunched over the keyboard or when my neck cranes out over my phone, prompting me to rectify my bearings. Subtle changes that make a wonder of difference in just a week? Incredible!
As I reflect back over my time working in Hollywood, I think about how people like me struggled with back, neck and shoulder woes and how important it is to have pain relief. I cringe when I think about how quick I was to ask for a prescription and how grateful I didn’t fall into a dangerous pattern of pill popping. Did you know that one of the most common reasons that doctors prescribe opioids is back pain? In the US, the opioids crisis has reached epic proportions and the most tragic part is that it is now becoming clear that opioids are no better at treating back pain that other less addictive options. Gravity is a simple and safe option that gives us all of the pros and none of the cons: it’s drug-free, it works for everyone, it also addresses posture, it is corrective and it force you to take 20 minutes out of your day to recharge and disconnect. We’re sold!
For more information and to purchase the Gravity Life system, click here.