Standing tall

Local chiropractor collaborates with Invent@NMU to develop, release Posture Plank

Brian Kulbieda, inventor of the Posture Plank and chiropractor at Axis Chiropractic in Marquette, speaks about the product and how working with Invent@NMU helped him bring the Posture Plank from concept to reality on May 2 at Invent@NMU. Kulbieda was the guest speaker for the Entrepreneurs Unplugged series to celebrate the launch of the device and Posture Awareness Month. (Journal photo by Cecilia Brown)

MARQUETTE — May is Posture Month — with an estimated 80 percent of Americans experiencing back pain at some point in their lives, it’s important to not only recognize the importance of good posture, but find ways to implement practices that promote good posture.

Posture Plank, a new product invented by local chiropractor Brian Kulbieda of Axis Chiropractic, is designed to improve posture by changing the back’s muscle memory over time.

“It’s such a widespread common problem with devices, computers, people preparing food even — there’s so many different avenues where people can end up having poor posture and I just knew that I needed to help work on this problem and help people take care of it,” Kulbieda said.

Kulbieda says the device is designed to give users “a little bit of guidance and leverage” to correct their posture. It “almost exaggerates where the thoracic spine should be, he said, noting that the “curvature in the spine gets so much forward pressure on it that it helps to leverage that spine closer to the better anatomical position.”

Kulbieda, a chiropractor, says he is well aware of the negative effects that prolonged sitting, standing and device usage can have on posture.

Posture Planks, which are manufactured by Quincy Woodwrights in Houghton, are displayed in a rainbow of different colors. The device is designed to improve posture by changing the muscle memory of the back over time. Kulbieda says it can be used regularly to stretch the back after sitting at a desk, using a device, or standing in the same place for a period of time. (Journal photo by Cecilia Brown)

“As a chiropractor, I see people every day hunched over, leaning forward, rolled shoulders.”

Poor posture is an area of concern for Kulbieda, as it can cause shallow breathing, changes in heart rate, stiff necks, pain in the skeletal muscles, poor circulation and reduced self-confidence, he said.

Through regular use of this device, Kulbieda hopes that people can alter their muscle memory to improve posture by giving themselves a chance to stretch after sitting at a desk or standing in the same position for a long period of time.

“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.”

Kulbieda developed the product with the aid of Invent@NMU, a local organization that seeks to help inventors bring their idea from dream to reality.

“I could visualize the concept, but couldn’t produce the product by myself,” said Kulbieda in a press release. “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 the launch of the Posture Plank and Posture Awareness Month Kulbieda was the guest speaker for the Entrepreneurs Unplugged series on May 2 at Invent@NMU.

During his presentation, Kulbieda spoke about his inspiration for the product and his experience working with Invent@NMU to develop the Posture Plank over the past years.

He said the design for the product was inspired by a patient with remarkably straight posture.

“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,” said Kulbieda in the press release. “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.”

Kulbieda said that he wasn’t sure where to start with his idea — but fortunately, Invent@NMU was about to open its doors.

When Kulbieda began working with Invent@NMU, they were able to guide Kulbieda through the process of making his dream a reality.

They began at the validation stage, where they checked for products similar to Kulbieda’s on the market — after “nothing notable was found,” in terms of competitors, Kulbieda opted to move forward to the ideation stage, according to Invent@NMU.

Then, human-centered designers and mechanical engineering technologists worked with Kulbieda to further refine the products.

A team of students manufactured 20 units in-house for market testing, which were well received. In light of this, Kulbieda decided to launch his product for a larger audience, creating a website, social media page and finding a manufacturer to produce the product on a larger scale.

It was important to the team to find an Upper Peninsula manufacturer for the locally designed and developed product, so they partnered with the Houghton-based manufacturer, Quincy Woodwrights, to produce the Posture Planks.

Posture Planks are now available for purchase in a rainbow of colors from Axis Chiropractic in Marquette, or online at www.postureplank.com, for $59.95.

Kulbieda hopes to help many people improve their posture with the device.

“I felt it was my mission to find something, more comfortable that in this day in age, can help us all maintain and manage and enhance our posture on a daily basis,” said Kulbieda.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.