Posture Plank, the recent invention of Marquette chiropractor Brian Kulbieda, puts a new spin on an old idea to help improve posture. With 16 years of experience running his own practice, Axis Chiropractic, Kulbieda knows the demands people put on their bodies on a daily basis and the poor posture and injuries that can result from being bent over a desk or standing on one’s feet all day.
“I see Posture Plank being used in a wide spectrum of everyday life, from parents who are concerned about their teenager’s spinal health to people in an office space stuck behind their computers all day,” says Kulbieda. “Along with helping to improve one of the primary posture areas of the spine, Posture Plank can also be used as a body stretching tool.”
According to the American Chiropractic Association, experts estimate that 80 percent of Americans experience back pain at some point in their lives. Poor posture leads to many health concerns such as shallow breathing, changes in heart rate, stiff necks, pain in the skeletal muscles, poor circulation and reduced self-confidence. The Posture Plank works to alleviate poor posture by improving the back’s muscle memory over time.
“I have a patient in her 70s who came in and always sat straight up in my exam chair, so I asked her how she has maintained such great posture through the years,” says Kulbieda. “She told me her father had her walk around with a broomstick behind her back so she would stand up straight. I straighten out teenagers all day long and here is this 70-year-old woman who has perfect posture from holding a broomstick behind her back. That’s when it hit me; create a comfortable yet beautiful wooden product to help improve people's posture.”
Not sure where to start, Kulbieda went to Invent@NMU for help shortly after its grand opening in October 2014. Invent@NMU guided Kulbieda through their process, starting at the validation stage, where they researched his idea to check for competing products on the market. Nothing notable was found and Kulbieda decided to continue forward into the ideation stage.
Invent@NMU’s human-centered designers and mechanical engineering technologists worked together to define and refine the product in collaboration with Kulbieda. Once a final design was chosen, the student team manufactured the initial 20-unit pilot run in-house to test the market. The product was well received, and Kulbieda decided it was time to launch Posture Plank to a larger audience. With further assistance from Invent@NMU, he has created a website and social media pages. He also identified an Upper Peninsula manufacturer who will make the product going forward.
“I could visualize the concept, but couldn’t produce the product by myself,” says Kulbieda. “Without Invent@NMU, it would have continued to be just an idea, and would not have materialized into a product that will be sold in the market.”
To celebrate Posture Awareness Month and his product’s launch, Kulbieda was the guest speaker for the Entrepreneurs Unplugged series on Wednesday, May 2. The product is now in stock and available for purchase for $59.95 each at www.postureplank.com and locally at Axis Chiropractic.