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Out of Africa: an idea for a stress-free seat. *

INSPIRATION can come from the most unlikely source. For Australian psychologist Mr. Greg Usher, it took the form of a two-legged stool, an essential item of equipment of the Maasai tribesmen of Africa.

As unlikely as it seems, that simple stool has led to the sophisticated Equipoise, a piece of  ergonomic furniture - "not a chair, not a stool, but a balance seat" - designed by Mr Usher to relieve spinal pressure and back strain brought on by prolonged periods of sitting still


In 1988, Mr Usher, as part of post-graduate studies in psychology, took a 10-day course of meditation which involved sitting in silence for 15 hours a day. The result was aches and pains throughout the body, the worst of which occurred in the back.

Cushions, chairs and low stools failed to bring relief. Then a small stool with half-round legs, a copy of a Maasai stool, was tried and the back pain, disappeared almost immediately.

"Research has shown that the long-term effects of lack of movement and high-compression loading on the spinal discs are two major causes of back pain among workers in sedentary occupations," Mr Usher said."In addition, our general tendency to sit, or slump, in stationary positions has brought about a gradual deterioration in our posture and balance sense."

The Equipoise, with its axle-mounted seat and kneeling pad, addresses all three problems. The gentle rocking motion activates the relevant body cells to provide spinal column nourishment, and distributes pressure or compression force from the spine to the thighs and lower legs.

For further information, contact:

Greg Usher,
PO Box 253, Kiama. NSW 2533.
Telephone +61-2-4232-4455

Greg Usher - inventot
Greg Usher - Inventor

* Extracted from - Overseas Information Branch - Dept.of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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INVENTOR Mr Greg Usher has designed  an innovative new seat to prevent back problems caused by long periods of sitting.  The seat is inspired by a stool used by  tribesmen in Africa.

" The idea came from a little stool that the Masai carry around with them.  These stools have  half-round legs and  when they sit on them with their knees on the ground they will often rock back and forth."  Mr Usher said.

Rocking is good for the spine.  Discs in the spinal column receive nourishment through movement. Gentle rocking provides this movement which helps keep the cells alive  when someone sits for a long time.

" When sitting in an ordinary seat all our movements start from a position of static inertia, causing a gradual build-up of strain and muscle tension." Mr. Usher told The Australian last week. "The Equipoise makes these movements easier and so reduces the incidence of muscular strain and tension."

The Equipoise chair has both kneeler and seat mounted on an axles.  This, combined with a spring and rubber stop, allows the user to rock gently back and forward on the seat.

The Equipoise seat is available by direct mail-order from Mr Usher. He can be contacted by telephone on  018 161 434