Do Posture Braces Really Work?

Most of us will suffer some pain in our lifetime. It is almost certain that we will suffer from neck, shoulder, or back pain. Spinal problems are becoming more prevalent, due to our lifestyles, and lifestyle choices. So, what causes this pain? And is there a solution?

You wake up in the morning. You sit on the toilet. You eat breakfast at the kitchen table. When no one is looking, you glance down to check your Facebook messages on your phone. You take the bus, or car, to work. You sit in your office cubicle for eight hours, staring down at your computer screen. You travel home, sit for dinner, watch some Netflix, and you are off to bed.

Bad posture is the leading cause of back problems, and back pain. It is no wonder so many people suffer from back pain when you think about our posture on a daily basis. We spend so much of our time sitting. Everything we do can be done from the comfort of your chair, and this is causing us a lot of problems.

Slouching is largely responsible for spinal problems. Not only do we spend most of our day sitting down, but technology is also dragging our posture down too. Next time you are out in public, look for someone with a phone. Are they standing up straight and proud? Do you see someone with a laptop? Are they looking down at their screen. We should all look down at our screens, but not in a physical way, I mean in the metaphorical way, where we blame our screens for our poor posture. That was overly complicated.

Bad posture - back pain

The point is, we are spending too much of our time looking down. Phones, tablet, laptops, personal computers, you name it. All of them have us looking down. We are slouching. Our posture is bad, but technology is not to blame. We are the ones to blame. We choose to look down at these screens. Bad posture is seen as the norm in our society. We have picked up a bad habit that is becoming increasingly more difficult to break.

But, we can break it. We can do anything if we put our mind to it. They say that if you do anything for three weeks, it becomes a habit, but what if you are trying to break a habit which has been built up over a lifetime? That can be difficult. It can be done, but it is tough to do. If only there were someone or something that could help us. Well, do not fear, for we may have exactly what you need.

Today we are going to be discussing how good posture can change your life, and how a posture brace can help you break the bad habits which are controlling you. Your health is the most valuable thing in the world. You should not have to live in a world full of pain and discomfort. You should be able to go through life standing tall with your head held high. A posture brace can help to bring you happiness and joy. It can revolutionize your life in ways you never imagine.

Thinking about your posture can be hard when your muscles are tense and sore. A professional massage can help but can be time consuming and expensive. Electric neck and shoulder massagers can give a deep tissue massage, relieving tension and helping your posture, from the comfort of your own home. We have reviewed the 5 best massagers on the market. Read the review here.

It is time to start caring for yourself.

Can good posture bring you good health?

Yes, it can. Good posture can benefit you in many ways. It affects you physically and mentally. Here are just a few of the benefits of good posture (1):

  • Good posture immediately improves how you look. As soon as you stand up straight, not only do you look taller, but you also look more trim. When people see someone who is standing tall, they are immediately drawn to them. One small change and you become more attractive. You gain an inner and outer confidence which will drive you through life. And who would not want that?
  • Your energy levels will be increased. When we are standing up straight, or sitting up straight, our lungs can work unimpeded. As oxygen is transported around your body, your energy levels increase. If you are slouching, your lungs cannot do what they were born to do. When your oxygen is low, you become more susceptible to weight gain and lethargy. Low energy = slouching, right? Wrong! Slouching = low energy.
  • When your posture is straight, your blood can be pumped around your body more easily. Better blood flow = better health, and a better posture can help to decrease diseases of the heart.
  • Over time, poor posture starts to take its toll on our bodies. Our bodies lose the ability to deal with the forces we experience on a daily basis. Our muscles become weaker, and we open ourselves up to more pain. If our muscles cannot deal with carrying weight, sitting in an awkward position, or moving in a certain way, then pain becomes a regular occurrence in our life.
  • Do you suffer from headaches? Then poor posture may be to blame. Good posture will ensure that we limit the number of headaches we experience in our lifetime. In fact, good posture can help to decrease our sensitivity to pain. That is pretty cool!
  • Good posture means that our spine is in the correct position. From straight on, our spine should be straight; each vertebra should be stacked on top of each other. From the side, we should have three curves. One at the neck, one at the shoulders, and one at the small of our back. Our spine is integral to our central nervous system. If the spine is not in the correct position, we can trap a nerve or damage our nervous system. This can lead to poor bladder and bowel control, among other things. Good posture can keep our underwear fresh and clean.
  • Good posture protects against pain. It also brings us confidence. Studies from the San Francisco State University have shown that good posture can be one of our defences against depression (2).

For some great exercises to improve your posture, check out this great video from Fitness Blender:

Can posture braces help?

I know what you are thinking, what can a posture brace do for me?

Posture braces retrain your body. They help our bodies to re-find our natural posture. Now, before we go any further, I have to warn you. Posture braces are here to help, but they can be uncomfortable. You may be reading this while hunched over a screen. Take a second to straighten your back and push your shoulders back. Hold your head up straight. Stay in that position for a minute. It may not feel comfortable. Our bodies are not used to this position anymore. Posture braces can help us with that.

Posture brace - before and after

Posture braces force back your shoulders and hold your spine straight. It is hard to do this consciously. We have trained our bodies and minds to be okay with our bad posture. It will take time, but a posture brace will alter our muscle memory until we have good posture without ever having to think about it.

There has been controversy surrounding posture braces. Some doctors believe the braces can weaken muscles as people overuse them (3), recommending, instead, regular posture exercises. We believe that if posture braces are used as directed, there is no threat to your health and that these braces can help you break a bad habit and create a beneficial one.

If a posture brace is worn too much, it can inhibit muscle growth and muscle strength. Once good posture has been achieved, we would recommend not using the brace, or limiting its use. The key to using a posture brace is to remember that the brace is there to promote a good habit, it is not used to change the physiology of your body. Once you have good posture, your body can take care of itself.

I want a posture brace, what should I do?

I want a posture brace, what should I do?

When shopping for a posture brace, there are a few things to keep in mind, including:

  1. Posture braces can be uncomfortable at first, but you should still shop with comfort in mind. The more comfortable the brace, the more likely you are to wear it. An uncomfortable brace will still do the job, but your comfort should be a top priority, especially when you could be wearing a brace for the duration of a day.

  2. There are some posture braces which are made to fit anyone, but if you look at the rainbow of sizes and shapes the human body comes in, you will understand why you should shop for a brace which is in your size. Choose a brace based on your body type.
  3. Whenever we buy anything, we always look at the cost. A posture brace is a major lifestyle choice. If you are going to buy one, you should go all in. Pay a little extra for better quality, but still shop around for the best price.

Aren't all posture braces pretty much the same?

No. There are a variety of posture braces available. The posture brace best suited for you will depend on your needs. Here are some of your options:

1. Standard Posture Braces

The ‘bread & butter’ of the posture brace world. Standard posture braces are most commonly made of nylon. They feature straps which are worn over your shoulders. They push on the middle of your back, guiding your thoracic spine into place, and guiding your shoulders backward to give a straight and correct posture. Your upper spine will be straightened. You will attain proper posture.

2. Support Bands and Belts

Support bands and belts do a similar job to standard posture braces, but they differ in their design. They are bands which are worn around your lower back or your lumbar spine. They work to prevent you from adopting a slouched or hunched over posture. They provide good support when lifting heavy objects. You will often see professional weightlifters using support belts when lifting, but these supports may not always be beneficial. Studies have shown that support bands and belts are great for improving the position of your spine when lifting objects, but do not protect you when you are lifting weighty objects.

3. Posture Bras

These also offer a similar level of support as standard posture braces, but they differ in shape. Posture bras would mainly be used by women, in place of a regular bra. They can be worn under regular clothing, and they are extremely beneficial when bad posture is bust-related.

4. Posture Shirts

Again, another alternative to the standard posture brace. Posture shirts are mainly made from elastic and correct your posture in a similar way. These shirts can be worn under regular clothing, but they do look a lot like workout shirts, so they can be worn as a regular shirt without it looking out of place. They are available in a variety of colours and shapes. Some varieties offer elastic bands which target certain muscles, compressing them to straighten your body.

But, which one should I choose?

Well, that depends on your needs. Everyone is different, and the choice of posture brace should reflect that.

Is your neck and back sore? Do you have bad posture? Then a standard posture brace will be your new best friend. It will give you the support you need to correct your posture and straighten your standing and sitting positions.

Have you recently developed a bad posture habit? A posture shirt is the way to go. They will provide moderate support, compared to a standard brace, and will blend seamlessly into your wardrobe.

Are you a woman? Have you developed a sore back, neck or shoulders because of your bust? A posture bra will be the perfect solution.

Do you have problems with a certain muscle? It is time to investigate posture bands and belts.

Posture brace disclaimer

Posture braces are not designed to be worn for lengthy periods of time. In fact, thirty to sixty minutes per day is the recommended usage. Using it for longer than that can be detrimental to your health. Always remember that the posture brace is there to correct your posture habits. It is not there to ease your pain. Once your posture has been corrected, there is no need to wear it anymore. Depend on yourself before you depend on a posture brace.

How to solve your posture problems forever? [Infographic]

How to solve your posture problems forever - infographics

Infographic by Tom Faulkner

Elena Curtis
 

Elena graduated from the Chicago School of Massage Therapy Clinic, and since her graduation in 2008, she's honed her style that consists of Eastern and Western massage techniques. When she's not working with patients, Elena spends her time reading and enjoying nature.

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