I spend an awful lot of time sedentary in front of a keyboard. Whilst I am trying to take my toddler for walks to get myself away from work, most days my snorkel is just too short for me to do that. Under normal circumstances I would have semi-regular visits with my chiropractor but the last time I afforded myself that luxury was pre-COVID lockdowns. There are ways to maintain your health at home and DRN is going to see if the Neptune Back Stretcher is one of those.
The Neptune Back Stretcher uses the principal of ARC Stretching to help to alleviate back pain, stiffness and lumbar discomfort. It is also great to improve posture by aligning our spines to the correct position.
Unless you are a Klingon (in which case the Men in Black are looking for you) then you are like me, just a normal human being. Our bodies does not have much of the way of redundancies and spinal injuries are serious kids. Consult with a qualified physician before you jump off the deep end.
The enclosed guideline talks about pre-existing conditions such as back or neck injuries and conditions. "Certain conditions may be contraindicate for using the back stretcher, such as: Spondylosis, Osteoporosis, severe Arthritis, Spondylolisthesis, Spinal Lesions/Tumours and Acute Fractures."
In a nutshell, if in doubt, abort mission.
It's actually a lot more compact than I was expecting, as the Back Stretcher comes fully disassembled for transporting and measuring only at 38.5 x 25.4 x 3 cm in this configuration. There is a strip of NBR (nitrile-butadiene rubber) pad to provide comfort to the spine.
The assembly instructions (and the use instructions for that matter) calls for a non-slip surface to work with. There are four steps complete with photos on how to position the base, your knees and hands for the easiest way to put it together. The diminutive size and easy assembly and disassembly makes it a clinch to take anywhere with you.
There are three levels of arch with increasing levels of bend in the arch support.
- Level 1 is the starting position, provides the least amount of stretch for beginners (that's me!).
- Level 2 provides greater stretch for advanced users.
- Level 3 provides maximum stretch for advanced users.
Position, position, position. The Back Stretcher has an orientation which needs to be followed. The narrow end should always be positioned towards the head, and the wide end should always be positioned towards the base of the spine. The blue NBR pad should be aligned with your spine where it is designed to cradle it for extra comfort. There is a suggestion of using a pillow under your head initially for comfort and to ease your way into the exercise.
Step 1 is to sit with your back to the arch, and slowly lie back onto the support arch with your knees bent.
Step 2 with the simple stretch position has your knees bent and resting your arms at your sides. Relax as much as possible an breathe normally. This position provides the least amount of stretch but is the easiest one for beginners.
To move into a moderate stretch position, step 3 is to raise your arms over your head and shoulders and rest them as close to the floor as you can manage. Over time and with practice, you may be able to fully extend your arms and rest your elbows on the floor.
For the maximum stretch position, extend legs and arms fully from step 3 and remove (if applicable) the pillow from under your head.
The recommended recovery is to roll onto your side and off the back stretcher. Bearing in mind after a stretch it is important to rest before standing to allow your blood to circulate normally again.
Does it work?
So full disclosure, I am not a very flexible or stretchy person but I am generally healthy. Everyone benefits from a good stretch and you don't have to be a pilates or yoga instructor. My issue is usually general tightness particularly across my flank and upper shoulders. So in the interest of a fair review I dutifully persisted through the recommended up to 5 minutes session to see how it goes. Initially I didn't feel it was doing much but it also wasn't making things worse. I was taking it easy as per the suggestions but after a few days I move up to the moderate stretch and was feeling some results.
It is not magic and it does take some time to kick in so some (smart) persistence would be required. And when I say smart persistence, I mean that if something does not feel right then stop and consult an expert.
My partner suffers from lower back pain from time to time. There are different contributing factors but when she tried the Neptune Back Stretcher, it made her feel worse. For her lower back pain issues, she needs to do other stretches. She also find rolling up a acupressure mat can help.
Is the Neptune Back Stretcher worth it? Well your mileage may vary. I would most certainly advise chatting with a professional and show them the product online first. Particularly if you are like me, my chiropractor knows my body well, and suggestions of a maintenance dose of stretching and exercise would keep me reasonably limber in between formal sessions. I can also stretch out the sessions a little longer as well.
The Neptune Back Stretcher is available here, and right now there is a $20 discount making it available for AUD$39, quite a bit cheaper than a 20 minutes chiropractor session. It is a once off purchase for a long time of use, if it is suitable for you then it is a very worthwhile investment.
Neptune is also offering 28% off anything over $50 with a BLACKFRIDAY code, along with Australia wide free shipping. Consider an acupressure mat as in my experience, they are fantastic. DRN has a review on a similar product here.