View Full Version : Balance disks for fidgeting


pechemignonne
12-14-11, 09:26 PM
Hey all,

I'm starting a new job soon which will involve a lot of sitting. I have a lot of trouble sitting still. Even though my hyperactivity has gone down a lot from when I was a child, it is still there enough to make it hard for me to sit at a desk without constantly shifting positions- in other words, I can't "sit properly".

As a result, I generally sit with one or both legs up on my chair, "lotus-style". This causes circulation problems and just recently meant that I broke my computer chair that I use at home (my boyfriend's, actually- he was not impressed) completely. I am also really, really uncomfortable in "ergonomic" chairs, because they expect you to sit with both feet on the floor, which I never, ever do.

This was a big problem for me in school, as some teachers insisted that I "sit properly" and I simply couldn't.

Question One: Does anyone else experience this or have a child with this problem? If so, how have you resolved it?

Recently, I got hired for my new job (which I am very excited about), and one of the things that they offer is a completely ergonomic and adjustable desk set-up. When I say "completely", it is to the point that I can work standing up (woohoo!!) because the desk adjusts to a standing height.

But I have trouble standing for hours on end, so I think that I will try to alternate between sitting and standing, which is apparently best for health and posture. I was looking into the options for when I want to sit, and found that many people swear by using a fitness ball as a desk chair, and even recommend this as a therapeutic tool for children with hyperactivity, ADHD, and autism. The benefits are from the fact that it means constant adjusting movements (using the abdominals and other muscles), which are both exercise and a "fidget" tool. Further research showed that it is not safe (due to lower back strain) for long periods as the only chair option. Also, I have some concerns about using it in the office since I have to do a lot of moving back and forth at my desk so I'm not sure it would be safe in case I fall off it (which I will, knowing myself).

As an alternative, I have discovered what are called "balance disks" which can be placed on a standard chair for a period of time. For one, I wouldn't fall off the chair, and it would be easier to take it off and put it back on than to switch back and forth between a ball and a chair. Especially since both the ball and the disk require a certain amount of "working your way up" to using them for long periods of time, the disk would be much easier to integrate into my workplace. As a bonus, I can even put it on the floor and it causes the same instability (and therefore movement/exercise) in a standing posture as it does when sitting.

Question Two: Does anyone have any experience using this (for themselves or for children with ADHD)? Especially the disk, not the ball.

And a general comment: I think this is a great idea, if it works, to help with difficulties with sitting. As an adjunct, of course, to other treatments and accommodations, not as a replacement.

Ms. Mango
12-14-11, 10:23 PM
My DS uses a disk in school. I haven't heard him say anything about it, but the fact that it's still in use must mean it helps.

Will your new employer offer a consult before your furniture is ordered? My employer lets employees consult with a PT to get personalized recommendations. In addition to helping choose furniture they can make sure it's adjusted properly and give you advice to avoid injury.

My accomodation is an adjustable foot rest that I can move up and down by sliding my feet. If you don't like keeping your feet flat on the floor you might like that. It allows you to fidget and keeps your legs from falling asleep.

Congrats on the new job!

pechemignonne
12-14-11, 10:34 PM
Great advice, thanks! I can never seem to use foot rests, my feet end up under my legs inevitably, it seems. Maybe it's just the kind I've used, I'll look into it...

LynneC
12-14-11, 10:40 PM
Wow, I really like the idea of the balance disk. I have no experience with them, but I think it might help my son also. He is able to stay seated for longer periods of time since starting Focalin, but it's still an issue for him. Prior to meds he was either wandering around the classroom, sitting on the floor, or moving his desk around...his teacher last year eventually put him on a carpeted area so that he wasn't making so much noise...

Anyway, sounds pretty good. How much does one cost?

pechemignonne
12-14-11, 10:53 PM
At most 50$. Normally around 20$. I would check online reviews for a good brand available in your area.

I'm going to try it, and if you get one for your son let me know if he likes it.

Offle
12-14-11, 11:05 PM
I was terrible about sitting in chairs in school. I'm still terrible. I like to recline, sit indian style, have my feet perched up, sit on my feet, half indian style, anything but both feet on the floor. When I was in elementary school I would get in trouble for sitting on the floor or putting my feet up on the desk or desk bar. In high school I had a couple of teachers that would let use sit on the desks or tables if we'd like as long as we got the work done.

After I broke my tailbone when I was 8 I was allowed to sit in the chair, or any chair in the classroom, in whatever way was most comfortable and least disruptive. I still have so many issues with it that I find it impossible to sit normally with my feet on the floor for any significant amount of time without my tailbone giving me trouble, so I change positions a lot.

I did use a fitness ball as a desk chair for a little while. It worked well for me. I enjoyed it, but I found I absolutely could not use it when I was tired or I would fall. I did like the work out it gave me, and it was one of the few "chairs" that never gave me any tailbone trouble. I did have some back problems though, but they could have been related to my job rather than the fitness ball, I'm not sure.

insight needed
12-14-11, 11:30 PM
As a school-based OT, I have used both ball chairs and inflated seat cushions with students with ADHD. Actually, I more frequently recommend the discs because they are easier to integrate into the classroom. Most kids with ADHD respond to them well. I believe it is because they can "wiggle" but still be in their seats. It takes a little adjusting to get the amount of inflation that suits the user. Too much air can make them uncomfortable; too little air and there isn't much "wiggle". Now that they have become more popular as balance discs, you may find them in exercise sections of store such as Wal-mart and Target, or in sporting goods stores that sell exercise equipment.

Another strategy that I use with kids is to tie a loop of exercise band tightly around the front legs of their chair, about three of four inches off the ground. They can rest their feet on it, push their feet forward against it, or bounce their feet of of it. The design of the typical office desk may make this less of an option.

LynneC
12-15-11, 10:26 AM
Another strategy that I use with kids is to tie a loop of exercise band tightly around the front legs of their chair, about three of four inches off the ground. They can rest their feet on it, push their feet forward against it, or bounce their feet of of it. The design of the typical office desk may make this less of an option.
I love this idea!

tripleE
12-15-11, 10:39 AM
My daughter uses something similar at school - called a move 'n sit cusion: http://www.amazon.com/Fitball-Move-n-Sit/dp/B000CSNTAS

We had it at home for the summer and it did make a difference for sitting still at dinner time.

The balance disk seems like the same idea, just more adult. I'm tempted to try it myself. :)

namazu
12-15-11, 10:47 AM
Even though my hyperactivity has gone down a lot from when I was a child, it is still there enough to make it hard for me to sit at a desk without constantly shifting positions- in other words, I can't "sit properly".

As a result, I generally sit with one or both legs up on my chair, "lotus-style". This causes circulation problems and just recently meant that I broke my computer chair that I use at home (my boyfriend's, actually- he was not impressed) completely. I am also really, really uncomfortable in "ergonomic" chairs, because they expect you to sit with both feet on the floor, which I never, ever do.
[...]
Question One: Does anyone else experience this or have a child with this problem? If so, how have you resolved it?
Q1a: Yes!
Q1b: Still working on this -- ask me about my bike workstation!

As an alternative, I have discovered what are called "balance disks" which can be placed on a standard chair for a period of time. For one, I wouldn't fall off the chair, and it would be easier to take it off and put it back on than to switch back and forth between a ball and a chair. Especially since both the ball and the disk require a certain amount of "working your way up" to using them for long periods of time, the disk would be much easier to integrate into my workplace. As a bonus, I can even put it on the floor and it causes the same instability (and therefore movement/exercise) in a standing posture as it does when sitting.

Question Two: Does anyone have any experience using this (for themselves or for children with ADHD)? Especially the disk, not the ball.
[...]
And a general comment: I think this is a great idea, if it works, to help with difficulties with sitting. As an adjunct, of course, to other treatments and accommodations, not as a replacement.I've actually been meaning to try this, too, but have been too swamped lately to get to it.

It seems like a great idea to me, to have it at least as an option.
I'm not sure how much extra it would help with sitting vs. a plush seat, but who knows? Standing, could certainly be good as long as it doesn't force you to stand in some equally unnatural way (analogous to the "ergonomic" chairs, which, like you, I detest.

Have you tried one in an exercise store to see how it feels?

Thought: if you can afford it, maybe get two of them, one for the floor and one for the chair. Imagine sitting on the disk in your work-pants, after you've had your feet on it, after you've accidentally stepped in something... Maybe that's just something I would end up doing... :o

Oh, one other thing that I've found helpful, I guess related to your Q1b:

Comfy (very plush, wide), sturdy swivel chairs with an asterisk-shaped base with 5 points (not 4) and casters.

These allow me to put my feet at a more comfortable height (since being short also doesn't help with the "put your feet flat on the floor" thing, along with the restlessness), on top of the "asterisk" points.

And then I can -- not spin, exactly, but swivel back and forth, which helps bleed off restlessness. And I can kind of "push off" with my feet (almost like skiing, I'd imagine?) to control the swiveling, which keeps my feet busy, too. I'm not sure I'm describing this well. But constant swiveling, with feet on the base of the chair, not the floor, is the basic idea. :cool:

(Actually, I think it sounds very similar in principle to Insight Needed's OT suggestion about the rubber bands...just for a chair without 4 legs, and you do the resistance with the chair base instead of a rubber band, and the swiveling provides the "elastic" motion.)

Congratulations on the new job! :)

ADHDTigger
12-15-11, 08:19 PM
Peche, I absolutely can't sit with my feet on the floor. I am cross legged in my desk chair as I write.

If you can adjust your desk height, plan to do so every hour or two. It will help. Another thing that I found effective was a bar height stool because I could fidget as much as I needed to on the rungs.

Walking away from my desk- go to the printer, the water fountain, get a coffee, have a smoke- was equally helpful.

I don't have shoes that I can't easily slip out of. After 15 minutes of feet on floor, I could sit as I wished for five minutes.

Congratulations on the job!

Luvmybully
12-15-11, 08:23 PM
Peche, I absolutely can't sit with my feet on the floor. I am cross legged in my desk chair as I write.




I CAN"T sit with my feet on the floor either- I am too short- they don't reach!

I sit cross legged 99% of the time because dangling legs get tingly and numb very quickly. Every once in a while I can find a chair with rungs in the right spot to rest my feet on-but still end up cross legged quickly.

That disk sounds awesome! I wish my daughter had something like that when she was in elementary school.

pechemignonne
12-15-11, 08:50 PM
Peche, I absolutely can't sit with my feet on the floor. I am cross legged in my desk chair as I write.
Yet again, I find that another thing that I thought was "just me" is common among people with ADHD.

I wonder, do any of you other cross-legged sitters have "restless leg syndrome"? I find it is connected.

As an aside, I find that doing a set of stretches before bed, particularly stretching my hips and legs, really helps with this.

If only I could do it with consistency...

If you can adjust your desk height, plan to do so every hour or two. It will help. Another thing that I found effective was a bar height stool because I could fidget as much as I needed to on the rungs.

Walking away from my desk- go to the printer, the water fountain, get a coffee, have a smoke- was equally helpful.

I don't have shoes that I can't easily slip out of. After 15 minutes of feet on floor, I could sit as I wished for five minutes.
I am always taking off my shoes, too.

Like I said, the workstations are very adjustable. It is all very encouraging.

I will definitely do a lot of switching from standing to sitting and in various positions.

I find that being able to move around helps my concentration, which isn't surprising and seems to be a common thing for ADHD folks, adult and children alike.

That's what makes me interested in the balance disk.

But again, I don't know that it will help with the cross-legged sitting issue.

I think that the ideal for me would actually be to sit on the floor on the balance disk, or on some kind of wide bench so that I could have my feet up.

But I will definitely try the footrest ideas.

I do find that I am much more comfortable with my feet higher up in general.

Congratulations on the job!
Thanks to you and to everyone else for the congratulations. I am both excited and anxious about the new job. As I said, though, knowing that I will be able to move around a lot makes me feel better about it.

Luvmybully
12-15-11, 09:22 PM
I wonder, do any of you other cross-legged sitters have "restless leg syndrome"? I find it is connected.



I am always taking off my shoes, too.




I am fascinated- what is the connection between cross legged sitting-which I always do- and restless leg syndrome-which I am sure I have?

And I only wear shoes when I have to. :D

This means that from about March through October I am barefoot unless I have gone somewhere, which I rarely do.

ADHDTigger
12-15-11, 10:08 PM
I have both Birkenstocks and Eccos that I live in as soon as I possibly can in Spring... temp over 32 degrees. They make my feet happy.

I'm very long legged and find most chairs very uncomfortable- even those chairs that I can adjust. When I worked in office settings, I made sure that I could get my legs into a comfortable position... mostly "half lotus" in the seat of the chair.

I used to keep a paper carton (box paper is delivered in) under my desk so that I could also elevate my legs straight out and keep them up.

In MUCH younger years, I did yoga before bed. I have never had restless leg. I have restless body. I wander in my sleep. Scared the heck out of hubby. I'm pretty sure I still do it- I wake up on the sofa more often than I fall asleep there.

I have a transient issue with edema in one leg/foot. Docs want me to elevate that leg/foot. Drives me nuts.

I was once a dancer. I transitioned to pointe too young... but was entirely comfortable en pointe. Tough sh*t for my feet... but I don't regret it.

pechemignonne
12-16-11, 08:24 AM
I am fascinated- what is the connection between cross legged sitting-which I always do- and restless leg syndrome-which I am sure I have?
I think it's something to do with blood flow. I've heard many people with RLS say that they are more comfortable with their legs up higher, that it is the difference between foot placement and the hips. For example, I am perfectly comfortable on the floor.

namazu
12-17-11, 02:07 AM
I wonder, do any of you other cross-legged sitters have "restless leg syndrome"? I find it is connected.
Me! Me! Me!

Of course, RLS is more common in people with ADHD and vice-versa. Maybe just because it's hard to distinguish RLS restlessness from ADHD-related restlessness (other than the circadian pattern and leg-specific-ness of it, I guess?) and/or because dopamine pathways are hypothesized to be messed up in both.

With the sitting cross-legged thing, I'm also curious about why. What is it about circulation -- do you have any ideas? I do find that the cutting-off of circulation makes me uncomfortable after doing it too long, and my knees have gotten less able to tolerate it.

But I'm also wondering if it is partly the stimulation/pressure/feedback from the contact, in addition to whatever might be going on, circulation-wise.

I wonder this because I know when I'm in bed, having a heavy (weight-wise, not temperature-wise) pile of blankets on me helps a little -- if I don't have enough weight on top of my legs I get even more restless. Have you noticed this at all, or is it just me? I have seen weighted blankets, etc. marketed for kids with autism and sensory issues, supposedly for calming purposes, and though I don't have autism, I do wonder if there may be some similar mechanism at work -- needing external sensory feedback because our bodies otherwise try to fill the stimulation gap with motor activity... Not sure.

I do find that I am much more comfortable with my feet higher up in general.

I do, too.

Actually, in college, they had standard-issue institutional-style chairs that were designed to tip back -- the back corner of the base was specifically shaped for it -- and they were fabulous. Like the chairs shown here, but with a cushy fabric seat. (http://urbanup.net/wp-content/gallery/new-dormitory-and-dining-complex/20110720-_dsc4748.jpg) I did a ton of work with my feet up either on my bed or on the desk. Not sure if you could get away with that at work, but if you can, hey...

One more thought -- they sell mini-bike-pedal units that you can use under your desk (http://blog.neosusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/pedal-bike1.jpg). My guess from looking at them is that they might not be super-satisfying to use because they wouldn't provide enough resistance or variety, but it's one more idea for burning off restless leg energy in a not-too-obtrusive way. Just saw this (http://fastcache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/4/2009/10/mobile_desk.jpg), too...looks kind of cool...

Finally, for me, the medication clonidine (which I take along with Ritalin +) has made a huge difference, really taking the edge off of the physical restlessness at night. It is a non-stimulant alpha-2-agonist that has been used off-label for ADHD and Tourette's (and other tic disorders -- other potentially-related instances of the body sending unwelcome motor signals) for a couple of decades at least. Now they market it in extended-release form for ADHD as Kapvay, and under other names like Catapres and others for blood pressure. However, I haven't seen any studies of it for RLS, which kind of surprises me. I don't know if it would work for anyone else, and obviously this thread it more focused on non-med tools and tricks, but it's been helpful to me, so I thought I'd throw it out there.

I love the other ideas people have been sharing!

pechemignonne
12-17-11, 01:15 PM
Awesome ideas, namazu, thanks!!

I'm going to look into the bike pedal thing. I'm not sure that the leaning back would work for me as I have to be able to have access to the computer all the time, but it would be awesome for at home to read in...

I don't know what the blood circulation issue is, but something about the pooling of blood and lack of circulation seems to make the RLS worse, and I know that the whole legs up thing makes it better... Another thing to do some research on, eh? ;)

Luvmybully
12-17-11, 01:46 PM
I think it's something to do with blood flow. I've heard many people with RLS say that they are more comfortable with their legs up higher, that it is the difference between foot placement and the hips. For example, I am perfectly comfortable on the floor.


I am perfectly comfortable on the floor too! Getting UP off the floor is becoming more and more challenging as I get older and my butt gets exponentially bigger...

As far as sitting goes, except for children's furniture, they just don't make chairs my feet can even reach the floor in. I HAVE to have my feet up.

Luvmybully
12-17-11, 01:53 PM
Of course, RLS is more common in people with ADHD and vice-versa. Maybe just because it's hard to distinguish RLS restlessness from ADHD-related restlessness (other than the circadian pattern and leg-specific-ness of it, I guess?) and/or because dopamine pathways are hypothesized to be messed up in both.

With the sitting cross-legged thing, I'm also curious about why. What is it about circulation -- do you have any ideas? I do find that the cutting-off of circulation makes me uncomfortable after doing it too long, and my knees have gotten less able to tolerate it.

But I'm also wondering if it is partly the stimulation/pressure/feedback from the contact, in addition to whatever might be going on, circulation-wise.

I wonder this because I know when I'm in bed, having a heavy (weight-wise, not temperature-wise) pile of blankets on me helps a little -- if I don't have enough weight on top of my legs I get even more restless. Have you noticed this at all, or is it just me? I have seen weighted blankets, etc. marketed for kids with autism and sensory issues, supposedly for calming purposes, and though I don't have autism, I do wonder if there may be some similar mechanism at work -- needing external sensory feedback because our bodies otherwise try to fill the stimulation gap with motor activity... Not sure.


I do, too.

Actually, in college, they had standard-issue institutional-style chairs that were designed to tip back -- the back corner of the base was specifically shaped for it -- and they were fabulous. Like the chairs shown here, but with a cushy fabric seat. (http://urbanup.net/wp-content/gallery/new-dormitory-and-dining-complex/20110720-_dsc4748.jpg) I did a ton of work with my feet up either on my bed or on the desk. Not sure if you could get away with that at work, but if you can, hey...

One more thought -- they sell mini-bike-pedal units that you can use under your desk (http://blog.neosusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/pedal-bike1.jpg). My guess from looking at them is that they might not be super-satisfying to use because they wouldn't provide enough resistance or variety, but it's one more idea for burning off restless leg energy in a not-too-obtrusive way. Just saw this (http://fastcache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/4/2009/10/mobile_desk.jpg), too...looks kind of cool...

Finally, for me, the medication clonidine (which I take along with Ritalin +) has made a huge difference, really taking the edge off of the physical restlessness at night. It is a non-stimulant alpha-2-agonist that has been used off-label for ADHD and Tourette's (and other tic disorders -- other potentially-related instances of the body sending unwelcome motor signals) for a couple of decades at least. Now they market it in extended-release form for ADHD as Kapvay, and under other names like Catapres and others for blood pressure. However, I haven't seen any studies of it for RLS, which kind of surprises me. I don't know if it would work for anyone else, and obviously this thread it more focused on non-med tools and tricks, but it's been helpful to me, so I thought I'd throw it out there.

I love the other ideas people have been sharing!

I only noticed the RLS after I started having symptoms of menopause-I had NO idea what it was, then I started hearing about it and couldn't believe there was actually a name for it!

Since my legs are so short I have problems driving sometimes, my legs just tense all on their own, it's very annoying!

I also notice at night I can NOT sleep without my dog on my legs! She sleeps right between them and puts her head on one. I can feel her all night long, when I turn she shifts. She is warm and comforting.

Of course hubby gets annoyed-there are occasions when HE would like to have that spot ;)

I have never gone to the Dr for it, but I do notice that it takes at least a half bottle of wine to help me get to sleep and not be pagued by it. And I can not have ANY caffeine past mid-afternoon.

littlepig
12-28-11, 01:09 AM
Just ordered a wedge style disk for my DS. I hope it works, as his teacher recently told me she wished she had velcro. <sigh>

pechemignonne
12-28-11, 07:48 AM
Just ordered a wedge style disk for my DS. I hope it works, as his teacher recently told me she wished she had velcro. <sigh>
Keep us posted!!

littlepig
01-18-12, 07:18 PM
Keep us posted!!

The verdict is still out on whether or not the wedge is working at school. Teacher wasn't sure if it was a distraction for DS or not. We will see.

He sits on the one we have at home..sometimes. It's not that he doesn't like it, but in the morn and the eve, he tends to crouch-sit on his feet while 'sitting'. He can hardly sit on his bottom in a way you and I would call an 'appropriate' way to sit. I chalk this up to little of his meds in his system early in the morn and later in the evening. :) Soooooo, he might not be getting enough stimulation from it...or he'd be sitting on it happily. :scratch:

insight needed
01-18-12, 07:46 PM
IMO, the wedge style seat cushion will not work 100% of the time at school or at home. If he is able to sit 50% more than he used to, that is success. Is the teacher willing to give DS movement breaks? Some teachers I work with call them "brain breaks". Every child in the class will benefit if she puts on some music and/or a video and lets the kids "get the wiggles out"--assuming this is appropriate for the age group. Maybe she could let him stand at a waist level bookcase at the back or side of the room if shows too much "out of seat" behavior.

As adults, we create our own movement breaks; we get a cup of coffee, or go to the bathroom, or look out the window etc. But kids are often seen as disruptive if they try to use movement to help themselves to re-focus.

littlepig
01-22-12, 11:27 AM
IMO, the wedge style seat cushion will not work 100% of the time at school or at home. If he is able to sit 50% more than he used to, that is success. Is the teacher willing to give DS movement breaks? Some teachers I work with call them "brain breaks". Every child in the class will benefit if she puts on some music and/or a video and lets the kids "get the wiggles out"--assuming this is appropriate for the age group. Maybe she could let him stand at a waist level bookcase at the back or side of the room if shows too much "out of seat" behavior.

As adults, we create our own movement breaks; we get a cup of coffee, or go to the bathroom, or look out the window etc. But kids are often seen as disruptive if they try to use movement to help themselves to re-focus.

Love the insight.

Not sure his substitute teacher is willing to do much of anything as far as accomodating DS's physical need for stimulation. She is an 'old school' sub and I'm waaaaiiiitttting for her to leave in March. I think she tends to tolerate my son's activeness. I won't even ask her for another accomodation until I'm prepared completely for a 504 meeting. I could see her get slightly retaliatory on DS. Just a hunch.