These days, poor posture is an epidemic. Many of us spend our days slouching in office chairs, in driver’s’ seats, doing housework, and other activities. Even when sleeping, people tend to be positioned for bad posture.
When poor posture becomes a way of life, it can lead to aggravating spells of back and neck pain, and in the long term, cause serious damage to health. While there are ways for people to improve ergonomics through good habits, some braces – known as posture correctors – can be a big help. Even people who have never experienced noticeable back pain could benefit from braces as preventative measures.
When you’re beginning to work on your posture, you’re going to have no “postural awareness”, meaning poor control over your lower or mid-to-upper back. In this stage, posture correctors can be a tool for training. As your posture improves through your revised day-to-day habits, you can go from a heavier support to automatically holding good posture as a result of a trained mind and back muscles.
Here, we’ll look at all the different kinds of posture correctors, and how each one works.
Sitting Support Devices
For many people, the biggest thing affecting their spinal health is sitting all day. Many of us spend our waking hours in office chairs. When focused on work, it can be easy to forget about posture, and start to slouch, exacerbating the effects of our other poor posture habits.
One effective way around this is using a passive postural aid, which will encourage a healthy posture as the muscles in your upper and lower back begin to strengthen and mold around it. You need to have decent endurance in your back muscles if you want to achieve a healthy, upright posture for hours on end. Many people use passive support devices as a way of weaning themselves off of more active treatments. Once such device is the Better Back, which provides muscle training as excellent lower back support.
Sitting support devices can also be used as a long-term or permanent solution for preventing slouching. A patient might find it uncomfortable to use a passive sitting device at first, but they’re easy enough to get used to. After enough time, they’re an excellent way to achieve a natural, healthy curve in the base of the spine.
Upper back and shoulder braces are a popular support option for postural training during the initial stages of treatment. One of the common problems that these kinds of braces rectify is the lack of awareness caused by years of bad posture habits. The feeling of wearing these correctors can be strange, and take some getting used to. However, even wearing a posture brace for 15 to 30 minutes each day can be highly effective. The Bax-U is doctor designed posture corrector suitable for day-to-day use. The Bax-U is effective for spinal alignment and is designed for greater comfort. The Bax-U is perfectly suited to wear under clothing.
In recent years, there’s been an emergence of upper back braces and devices with a biofeedback correction feature. These essentially monitor the position of your back and shoulders while you wear them. If you’re slipping into bad posture, these will prompt you with an audible reminder or a short vibration to remind you to correct your posture quickly. Though they’re not for everyone, many patients have found these very helpful in forming good posture habits.
Lower Back Braces
Good posture always starts from the base of the spine. When you’re sitting, a well-positioned spine with a gentle inward curve can be achieved with either a brace or a passive seating cushion. One of the common issues that lower back braces are often used to rectify is poor awareness, brought on by year after year of bad habits. Like upper back and shoulder braces, using a lower back brace for just a short period every day can get your body more inclined to the feeling of a healthy posture.
Kinesiology Tape is one of the more minimal posture corrector options, and in most cases, should only be used as an auxiliary measure for a more extensive treatment. One study by Gak Hwang-Bo published in 2013 used taping exclusively to mitigate upper back pain in a sedentary office worker, and found that it was conducive to recovery from posture-related conditions. Kinesiology taping is best suited to patients who only need minimal posture correction, and is more used as a short-term reminder than the single cure to any major posture problems.
Swiss Ball Chairs
Aside from being handy tools for exercise programs, using swiss balls (also known as gym balls) in place of office chairs can also be effective for correcting your posture. The subtle movements needed to stay balanced on them can be conducive to a correct, healthy posture. Be wary when going with this solution though, as using gym balls in place of chairs isn’t a comprehensive treatment. In fact, one study authored in 2006 concluded that sitting on an exercise ball isn’t enough to improve a poor posture, and later studies have found that they can, in fact, cause spinal discomfort.
Good Mattresses and Pillows
The way we sleep can also have a major effect on the health of our spine. The good news here is that finding a mattress and pillow that’s good for your posture is largely down to personal preference. As long as they feel comfortable to you, and as long as they’re supportive, they’ll be good for your neck and your spine.
Good posture is a big talking point these days, and if you’ve been slouching a lot, you may have felt you need to “pull your shoulders back.” This is one piece of advice you should always ignore! Your shoulder blades sit snuggly on your ribcage, which is shaped more like a cylinder than a cuboid. Your shoulder blades only sit the way they do because there are muscles holding them in place, along with plain old gravity. Your shoulders are meant to sit where they are, and will naturally find their correct position. Never force them forwards or backward – you’ll simply wind up hurting your posture. Achieving a good posture is mainly all down to the way you position your spine and lower back. If anyone tells you to hold your shoulders back to correct your posture, tune it out!
The Benefits of Posture Correctors
There are a few main reasons why posture correctors are such a popular treatment option for people who are experiencing spinal problems.
Injury rehabilitation is one area where correctors are becoming more and more prevalent. Following injuries to the neck, shoulder or spine, posture correctors can be used to reduce movement to the injured area. When a part of your upper body requires immobilization for proper recovery, correctors like upper back and shoulder braces can be a very helpful tool. Reduction in movement can work wonders for speeding up the recovery, and ensuring that the injury heals with no complications.
Pain management is also a very popular application for posture correctors. People who suffer from chronic back or neck pain often find posture correctors to be extremely useful. With extra support for the shoulders and spine and a relatively small amount of immobilization, a lower back brace or smart brace can do a lot to mitigate the discomfort caused by persistent back and neck pain.
Improving your posture is another big reason why many people use braces and other correctors. They do what they say on the tin, so to speak! Even if you’re not experiencing any difficulties related to posture now, maintaining good posture is exceedingly important, especially with the sedentary lifestyles, so many of us lead. Good postural habits will prevent the onset of various conditions, which can lead to chronic pain in later life. If you spend a lot of time at a computer, even for someone in your role, posture correctors are certainly something worth considering. Even if you’re only using them for a short period every day, these kinds of products can improve your all-around health, and grind down your chances of developing some very distressing conditions.
I plan on testing every posture corrector you can buy including braces, posture solutions at a computer, posture chairs, and smart posture devices. I blog about the products here. Drop me a line anytime for questions and I'll try to help!
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