Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Twist Pillow: Neck Comfort While Traveling

Traveling, for any amount of distance, is bound to bring on some uncomfortable situations. Between all the waiting and the public transportation seats, which are usually foamy and made for the wrong size, rest doesn’t exactly come easily. No matter how tired you may be from the long day of traveling, it can be too uncomfortable to nap, or even relax.

But with the right travel-along product, those former fears can be put to rest. No longer are you left to crunch or squeeze your way into a comfortable position. One such product, the Twist Neck Pillow, not only travels easy, but offers an unlimited source of head and neck support. With this carry-on pillow, travelers of all ages can turn a terminal, bus station, or long car ride into a great place to take a nap.

About the Twist Pillow

Made specifically to “twist” into the perfect position, this pillow is great for those of all sizes. Simply mold it to fit your neck or head, and enjoy hours of comfortable rest. In fact, it stays so well put that travelers can even walk about with the pillow on their neck, leaving their hands free for a carry on or hand rails.

Then once you reach your destination, the pillow can even be used as a lumbar or leg pillow. Simply adjust its position, and watch it mold into the perfect supportive shape. The Twist Neck Pillow is so versatile, customers have found countless uses for this ever-changing model.

It also comes in several different versions. Purchase the original model in cream or black, or upgrade to a memory foam or massage model. The memory foam molds to create a customized fit, while the massage pillow provides soothing relief while acting out its pillow duties.

No matter how often you travel, the Twist Neck Pillow is a great option for on-the-go rest. Head to the product page to learn more.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Can Too Much Sugar Affect Everyday Pains?

Whether you’re stocking up on Halloween goodies or just have an everyday sweet tooth, there’s no denying that too much sugar is bad for one’s health. A fact that dentists have been proclaiming for years, others are also beginning realizing the harsh dangers of sugar-based meals.

But what exactly can too much sugar do?

In extreme cases, patients can develop a life-long condition, such as obesity or diabetes. Both come with their own long-term problems. For instance obesity can make movement harder and takes a toll on one’s posture and circulation, while diabetes affects diet, wellness, and requires proper foot care. While both of these are worst case scenarios (from eating too much candy, anyway), they’re some of the biggest issues to look out for. Those with family history should be on extra high alert, as they’re the most susceptible to the disease’s grasp.

Other Side Effects of Sugar

High sugar intakes have also been shown to increase acne, one’s risk of depression, and even cause folks to become “addicted” to the substance. Much like salt, the more sugar that’s consumed, the more a body craves its sweetness. Obviously this is a recipe for disaster, especially considering all the negative side effects it can bring.

As for everyday pains, these uncomfortable bouts can be increased by poor circulation and digestion – both of which can arise from heavy sugar ingestion. When repeated over time – such as someone taking in multiple sodas or pieces of candy each day – their circulation and digestion will see a direct hit. This could lead to stomach pains, cold appendages, or increased aches in the back, legs, and arms, as they aren’t getting regular blood flow. [Fitbie]

While some sugar is deemed ok (especially if it’s real sugar and not a sweetener substitute), it’s best when not eaten excessively. Keep the sweets at a minimum to avoid pains and other health problems that the substance can trigger.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

5 Monsters That Could Have Used Back Support Products

With Halloween just around the corner, monsters and other Halloween-themed items are in full force. Cereals are launching spooky versions of their breakfast foods, kids are preparing their costumes, and classic movies are making their way onto the TV. And other than their ability to scare viewers with their folklore, each of these shows seems to have a main theme in common: their characters look alarmingly uncomfortable.

Whether they had a permanent crick in the neck or just needed a better mattress, we bring you our list of top five monsters that needed a spinal support upgrade.

5. Dracula

For someone who sleeps in an un-cushioned coffin each day, Dracula was surprisingly upbeat. Think how chipper he could have been with a mattress pad, or at the very least, a neck pillow to help keep his fangs in place.

4. Frankenstein’s Monster

With metal parts throughout his body, Frankenstein’s Monster likely had headaches galore. A head-shaping pillow (a large one), would have easily helped relieve pressure while he got a good night of rest. Other tall monsters, such as Lurch and Herman Munster, might have suffered from similar issues.

3. Cousin Itt

Cousin Itt, Gomez Addams’s relative, was probably one of the hottest sleepers in history. Covered in hair from head to toe, cooling pillows and mattress pads would have done wonders for his ability to rest, even in the warmest of environments. The same goes for Michael J. Fox and other werewolves.

2. Uncle Fester

Who would sleep on a bed of nails when a plush, comfortable mattress was available? It’s likely he would have opted for a back support model, had they been available back in the day.

1. Voldermort

All that flying can be hard on the spine, causing it to twist and turn in odd directions. Unless he had a great wizard bone adjuster, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named could have done wonders with a pillow-top mattress. Not to mention a seat cushion for his long Death Eater meetings.

Who are your favorite monsters? What product would have helped their health?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How Much Damage Can High Heels Really Cause?

It’s no secret that wearing high heels for hours on end is less than comfortable. While they may look nice, the shoes leave feet pinched and prodded into their unnatural shapes. They then cause feet to ache, toes to cramp, and begin shooting some of those pains upwards into the legs and lower back. Perhaps even affecting posture.

And all in the name of beauty.

Of course, there are now “orthopedic” versions of heels – or at the very least, more expensive models that come with cushioning and extra support. But when the foot is resting at such an awkward angle – and then walked on – how comfortable can it really be? Not to mention the level of damage it’s causing in its wake.

Much depends on how long the wearer has been sporting her heels – for the span of the day or life. But according to some recent research, the ongoing damage could just be irreversible.

Foot Scan in High Heel

By scanning a foot still wearing a high heel, specialists were able to see just what shape the foot takes on. They found that the ball is pressed flat with the toes, which also supports the majority of the weight. The rest of the foot sits at an extreme incline, until reaching the heel, which hosts some weight, but still on a slant. The specialists also said that individual tests should be done to show just how much damage each woman has sustained. [ABC News]

Whether contained to stress within the foot, or having affected the legs and back, it’s clear that improper weight placement can cause ongoing pain and damage.

To lessen the effects, doctors say women should stick to flats. However, if heels are a must, wedge and platform versions provide more mid-foot support.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Customer Love for the Kabooti Donut Cushion

At Contour Living, we love hearing from customers – especially when they tell us how our products have helped reduce their chronic aches and pains. Over the years, we’ve sold thousands of pillows and sleeping-related devices, and though they’re designed specifically to help, it’s great to hear it directly from those who were affected most.

Our latest praise comes from a dental hygienist in New Jersey. After more than two decades in the profession, she wrote to tell us that her back pain was finally gone. With the Kabooti Donut Cushion, she is now able to perform her job in a pain-free environment.

She writes, “I recently visited a medical convention in Orlando, Florida, and enjoyed the convention and conference expo. While there I discovered the Kabooti [cushion] at your booth. I brought a sample pack back to the office and I love it. In two days I have noticed a major difference in my posture and comfort level while delivering dental care to my patients. It’s great!! The cushion provides super support with minimum movement on the dental chair surface. After 21 years of delivering dental hygiene I have finally found a back saving solution!!!”

Thanks to our hygienist for writing in – we’re so happy to hear the Kabooti has put an end to your painful working days. It’s also an inspiration to others in the profession that there’s hope for ongoing comfort – even after years of suffering.

To learn more about the Kabooti Donut Cushion, head over to the product page for specs, replacement covers (there’s even one in camo!) – and an overview as to how the cushion works. By combining a donut ring, coccyx cushion, and a seating wedge, the Kabooti has everything you need to keep your booty comfortable.

And if you have any questions or comments – let us know. It might even make the blog!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Benefits of Lumbar-Focused Exercise

No matter what type of shape your back is in, strengthening the lumbar area is a great way to improve its health. Stretching, moving, and exercise all work to get your back breathing and working correctly. Whether injured, in slight pain, or dealing with a healthy, pain-free back, making sure it’s properly supported can reduce any future or ongoing issues. Think about it – legs need to walk, arms need to move, hips need to turn – why shouldn’t the back get special treatment as well?

But that’s just a portion of the benefits that lumbar exercises have to offer.

With stretches alone, the lumbar area can loosen, relax, and even lengthen itself. This means added comfort, support, and an easy way to help gently brush away recurring pains. This goes for legs and rear stretches as well. Both muscles correlate with the back, and stretching them will travel up and into the area that needs it most. The more regularly you stretch, the more benefits that can be found from keeping a loosened back.

Another added benefit comes from removing pressure. Through chair (or bench), step, or medicine ball work, you can easily remove bodyweight and pressure from the back. This allows the body to gain some much needed relief, not to mention lessen any swelling or excess weight that may be causing additional pain.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, lumbar exercises, strengths, and conditions the entire back. This means that during new or strenuous activity, the area is ready for whatever it may encounter. Not only does this reduce the chance of an injury, it’s great motivation to stay in shape. Regular movement = healthy back.

To keep your entire lumbar area in healthy working order, consider adding back-orientated exercises into your daily routine.

Stay tuned for even more back-related strength and exercise tips.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sore Muscles? Try Trigger Point Therapy

When suffering from a sore muscle, there are few tasks worth performing. Even those that are necessary. Depending on where the affected area may be, it can be painful to twist, turn, move one’s head, or make even the slightest movement. When rare or taking place after a specific injury, this becomes much easier to swallow. But when waking up with ongoing pains, everyday tasks are difficult, if not downright impossible, to complete.

One of the easiest ways to find some relief comes from exercise treatment or specialized therapies, which actually work to heal each area rather than mask its symptoms. By working on an area from the inside out, the suffering can not only be reduced, but leave an area healthier in the process. One such form of therapy does just that. By placing specific pressure on a “trigger point” – a muscle that causes pain – the area can relax and heal.

Generally, the therapy is performed by a trained masseur and takes place over several appointments. The masseur presses (firmly, depending on the level of pain) on the injured area, and then removes all weight, acting as a pressure and release routine. Over time, the muscle is able to relax, loosen (allowing the patient to feel less pain), and reconstruct itself.

Trigger point therapy also works with timed breathing cycles and various pain assessments to determine exactly which area of the body is the “trigger”. Though it’s considered less relaxing than a traditional massage – as the receiver actively participates through responses – this therapy is meant to heal rather than to pamper. Patients regularly report positive results, and some said they also received alternate massage treatments to help relax the rest of the body. [TPTherapy]

And with any type of massage, heavy hydration before and after is recommended. By consuming plenty of water, the body can flush out any unnecessary toxins, which help to advance the affects of the treatment.

Talk to your masseur or local parlor/salon to find out more.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Four Yoga Poses to Reduce Back Pain

Whether or not you’re an active yoga master, it’s an exercise that’s known to relax and strengthen the body. From everyday yoga posers to those who have yet to try it, this exercise has something to offer everyone. Beginners can start out slow, while pros can work toward more challenging balances.

To receive the most back relieve out of your yoga routine, try these proven poses. Designed specifically to stretch and heal the back, these exercises will have you feeling better in no time. Best of all, they’re great for those of all yoga backgrounds.

4. Fists Forward Bend

Performed by bending the knees and bending until your torso meets your thighs, this pose allows the back to deeply exhale and reduce tension. You should also place your fists in opposite elbow bends to create a cohesive motion with the arms.

3. Downward-Facing Dog

Perhaps one of the most popular yoga poses, downward-facing dog takes place by planting the balls of your feet, and bending until your arms touch the ground. The body should bend at a 45-degree angle, creating a relaxing, yet stable pose. Keep your head down to avoid a neck strain during this pose.

2. Wall Plank

With the wall plank, you can get extra help (yes, from the wall) during your exercise. Stand arm length away, then place your hands flat on the wall, fingers up. Legs should be straight, while the hips and stomach bend at a 90-degree angle.

1. Pigeon Pose

Generally for the flexible, the pigeon pose takes place when one leg is bent, and the other left straight to stretch and reduce back pressure. Here, the right knee should touch the right wrist (as if from downward-facing dog), with the tops of your feet touching the floor. Hips can then be centered and pushed down for added relief.

Start practicing these poses today for an easy at-home cure for back pain.

And if you need more instruction (or pictures), head to MindBodyGreen.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Health Perks of Going Barefoot

Going without shoes – or barefoot – is usually a hit or miss trend. Either you love it, or you hate it and are sure it’s going to cause all types of sicknesses. But despite your previous allegiance, there are several benefits to be had from going without shoes. No, you still shouldn’t run down the street or venture into the porta potties without foot protection, but in safe, clean environments, you can easily improve your health just by going without shoes.

And if you’re still weary about it, start at home, then venture into the yard. Then try a friend’s house, water park, or any other (clean) public place where a lack of shoes is kosher. Before long, you’ll have developed a newfound freedom that only the shoe-less can enjoy.

What can it do for your health?

Avoiding shoes for an hour or two each day can work to improve your posture, mood, and feet placement. Without a shoe to guide and align the feet, we’re left to figure it out for ourselves. This is like hitting a “reset” button on our posture, letting the legs, back, and feet redefine what’s comfortable and supportive.

Runners are beginning to jog without foot support as well, but this is a more extreme switch. Try it if you dare (with your doctor’s approval), but a few hours around the house each day should also do the trick.

It’s also said that going barefoot can help to improve one’s mood. By connecting directly with the ground, there’s a scientific theory that says it will help reunite you with the earth. This may sound somewhat sketchy, but there is actual data showing that electrons from the ground can be absorbed by one’s body; scientists say this works to rejuvenate energy levels, which often results in a lifted spirit.

Walking outside while barefoot has also been shown to act as an antioxidant, and have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. [Peak Fitness]

Whether or not you believe in self “grounding,” going without shoes can offer a number of benefits. Test it out today to start getting the most out of your time outdoors.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Can Acupuncture Relieve Back Pain?

When we think about ways to relieve pain, few are comforted by the thought of having needles shoved into their skin. But despite the theory behind acupuncture, it’s a treatment that’s been shown to relieve a great deal of pain and stress. Working by sticking needles into strategic points in one’s skin (and at varying depths), the practice is meant to poke and prod away pain.

So does it work on backs? While the science behind the treatment is shaky – some say yes, some say no – patients to test the practice give acupuncture two thumbs up. According to their assessments, extra pain up front equals less pain overall. As for the doctors, even they agree that acupuncture provides more relief than no treatment whatsoever. [Mayo Clinic]

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Using very thin needles, a trained professional places them into a patient’s skin. Known as “acupoints,” the needles are put in specific places that will help reduce pain and stress. It is thought that stimulation these various points allows the body to naturally heal itself, providing enhanced abilities.

Each person hosts about 2,000 acupoints across their body. Obviously not all of them can be accessed in a single setting, however, some believe that more needles equals more results. You can also talk with your acupuncturist about different pains you’re experiencing to ensure affected areas will see results.

Additionally, those who receive regular treatments are able to see which areas provide the best results.

Different Types of Acupuncture

There are at least five different types of acupuncture, each of which offers a different format. For instance, Auricular acupuncture deals only with ears. Hosting over 200 acupoints each, a person can gain relief throughout their entire body while only hosting punctures in their ears. In contrast, traditional Chinese acupuncture covers the entire body, and even stimulates the organs. Japanese acupuncture is quite similar, though its needles are shorter and thinner. This is a good option to anyone experiencing fear and anxiety about the needles.

There are also five element and Korean hand acupunctures – the first of which gives spirit and mind relief, while the latter focuses on one’s hands. [Discovery Fit and Health]

Though acupuncture is a very personal experience, it’s generally said that full-bodied options provide the best back pain relief, especially in the lower back. Talk to your acupuncturist to see which options may work best, or give varied treatments a try and compare notes.

While it may sound like a nerve-wracking process, acupuncture is shown to provide a great deal of pain relief. Sign up today to see just what the practice has to offer.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Exercises to Improve Back Health

Throughout the day, we sit, stand, stretch, and slouch our way through activities. Day after day, along with work, exercise, and any other actions we may take, our habits can get the best of us. Back pains occur, strains begin to take place, and muscles become sore or achy after this repeat behavior. And while extreme or ongoing injuries should certainly be discussed with a doctor, there are also many at-home remedies to help ease the issues at hand

One of the easiest ways to loosen up the back is through regular movement. By stretching and exercising your back, you can easily work to reduce ongoing strains.

To receive continued relief, remember to get moving on a regular basis.

Back Stretches 

If you don’t enjoy exercise or aren’t physically able, stretching can be a great alternative. Raise your arms, twist your upper body, or ask a friend or family member to help stretch you out. Leaning and reaching offer great muscle toning options as well.

No matter your agreed-upon routine, stretching can greatly improve mobility and blood flow throughout the back.

Swimming and Other Forms of Cardio 

Swimming is one of the best exercises for a back-friendly workout as it eliminates gravity. Without excess stretch or pull, the back can relax and heal in a stress-free environment. This can be done by swimming laps, treading water, or even walking in deeper water (stomach to chest level).

By providing resistance without gravity, swimming can get you moving without adding unnecessary pressure. Other forms of cardio such as jogging, biking, hiking, etc. offer equal perks, but should only be done by those with strong, healthy backs. Talk to your doctor if you’re unsure if these activities are back friendly.


Much similar to stretching, yoga allows participants to stretch and strengthen the back at the same time. What’s great about the sport is that it can be adjusted to virtually any user’s comfort level. Start off slow and work up to more intense levels of exercise that help both the back and the rest of your body.

When taking classes, ask an instructor for back health poses to get the most out of your sessions. (Which you can then practice at home.) From invasive exercise to light stretching, there are a number of moves that can help improve one’s back health.

Test out the above, talk to an exercise guru at the local gym, or check with your doctor to see which moves will best help you and your back.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Align your Spine with a Cloud Mattress Topper

A few weeks ago, we talked about the benefits of the Cloud Bed Pillow, how its unique design helps align the neck while sleeping. And, just how many perks can be had from a comfortable, ergonomic night’s sleep – all from a single customizable pillow. But did you know there’s more to the Cloud line? In addition to this unique pillow, there’s a Cloud- issue mattress topper, which works to align the spine.

Just stretch the material over your bed (and under the sheets), and sleep like you would on your original mattress. Over time, the topper will adjust and conform to each sleeper’s individual shape and weight, providing an entire new level of nighttime sleeping support. Not only is the Cloud Mattress Topper a great addition of comfort, it has multiple alignment benefits as well. Like its pillow cohort, the topper is made of three levels for maximum support retention. The foam allows for multiple layers of softness, which molds to the sleeper’s body, but won’t break down or wear in the process.

Additionally, the Cloud Mattress Topper:

• Has an ergonomic, orthopedic design to help maximize spinal health
• Can reduce back or hip pain
• Can reduce tossing and turning throughout the night
• Can improve comfort levels
• Works to cradle the body through spinal and lumbar support
• Can lengthen the lifespan of your mattress, or improve the quality of cheaper models

Though the topper is great for any sleeper, it’s ideal for those with all over back aches, as it’s specifically designed to provide relief to the entire spine. Use it along with your Cloud pillow, leg cushion, or test out the topper on its own for pinpointed relief. Or, give it a try to improve one’s sleeping patterns.

Because it helps reduce movement while increasing comfort levels, sleepers are able to achieve longer, deeper sessions of rest. Sleep efficiency studies even showed that test customers received more restorative sleeping cycles than with their original mattresses.

The topper is also built for maximum airflow and cooling abilities. That way hot sleepers don’t sweat or overheat throughout the night because of the extra mattress layer. Or, to receive even more cooling comfort, consider the addition of moisture-wicking pajamas, cooling blankets, or a good old fashioned chilly bedroom. No matter the use – for sleep assistance or for spinal health – it’s sure to offer cloud-like comfort throughout the night.

Find out more about the Cloud Mattress topper on our products page.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What is the BackMax and How Can it Help?

With a name like “BackMax” is pretty easy to tell this product was specifically designed for spinal health. But other than claiming the maximum amount of comfort, size, and whatever it is this product holds, the name doesn’t give justice to what it can do. Just as it promised, the BackMax offers the highest amount of functions possible. With a single product, users can relax, relieve pain, sleep, lounge, or perform any other number of sitting options.

So, what exactly is this miracle product? The BackMax Body Wedge is a large folding cushion that has the ability to mold and form into several different positions. Users simply adjust for the best setup, then sink into the wedged cushion to receive back support and relief from all angles. There’s even a BackMax Plus, which is a wider version of the original. The Plus also comes with a fleece cover for extra cleanliness and textural appeal.

How the Back Support Product Works

Folding into eight different position, the BackMax works to alleviate pain by removing excess pressure on the back. From its standard zero gravity make up to its stomach-friendly holds, the BackMax allows each user to sit or lay in a way that feels most comfortable. Best of all, it’s easy to change position without purchasing another product or pillow. Just fold and move to find your new favorite back position. Use the entire Max, or unzip and remove different sections to best support the legs, lower back, or neck.

Use the BackMax while lounging on the floor, in bed, or on the couch – its versatility allows the product to move almost anywhere.

BackMax’s Benefits

With the BackMax, users can:

Watch TV, read, nap, or sit and relax
Elevate legs for circulation
Reduce pressure or strains along the entire spine
Easily lay on one’s stomach
Eliminate gravity for relaxed, pain-free back relief
Recover from knee or hip surgery without adding excessive weight or stress to the injured area.

Made of supportive foam, the wedge is able to uphold the body without wearing or sinking in the process. You can even wash its plush cover for an extra clean section each time you use it.

From back pain, to surgery relief, to a comfortable place to relax, the BackMax (and its Plus counterpart) offers a unique, proven way to cradle the back. Consider this one-of-a-kind product for all your back health needs.

Ready to see more, head to the BackMax page at Contour Living.