Are posture braces good or bad?
There seems to be a lot of conflicting information regarding this question.
On one side, there are some physiotherapists and other professionals who are against posture braces and recommend staying far away from them.
But on the other side, you have some professionals who go into the business of creating posture braces or give advice to other companies on how to design them better based on research and clinical trials.
So, what exactly should we believe about posture braces and their usefulness?
In this article, I will do my best to answer just that so you can make a better-informed choice on whether a posture brace is right for you
Posture Braces – What Is The Problem?
I am just going directly to the point here and say what you might have heard or read somewhere else.
The issue with wearing posture braces is that they have the potential to make your posture worse.
This is concerning because posture braces should be helping your posture and not make it worse.
When you put on a posture brace and strap yourself in, the brace essentially forces muscles and joints to align in a position that can only encourage good posture.
The muscles responsible for stabilizing your posture are more or less “mechanically” contracted or lengthened rather than doing the work themselves.
You could say that the brace is doing a lot of the work that your muscles should be doing.
One very common reason for having poor posture is that certain muscles are weak and elongated while others are stronger and short/tight.
To correct your posture, you need to work those underdeveloped muscles and become stronger, but this won’t happen if the brace is doing all the work.
The worst case scenario is that your poor posture could worsen.
But another very common reason for having poor posture is bad postural habits.
For example, the way you sit in front of the computer, viewing your smartphone, while reading a book or when you are watching television.
In this regard, wearing a posture brace can be very useful in helping you to become more aware of what good posture is.
Sort of helping you develop new and better postural habits.
You should not underestimate the importance of your habits here.
Basically, your current posture is a result of what kind of position you spend most of the time in. You could say, that your current posture is simply a reflection of your postural habits.
Additionally, wearing the brace is probably going to stretch out some tight muscle tissue which is also beneficial
To sum up, the issue with wearing a posture brace is that the brace is potentially doing the work your muscles should be doing.
Whether wearing a posture brace causes more harm than good must then boil down to how much of the “work” it is doing and how helpful it is for you to develop better postural habits.
This is obviously a hard question to answer.
The best way to put it is most likely: “it depends…”
(Funny fact: due to my background in law this is how I usually answer complicated questions)
Some of the factors that should be considered are obviously:
- The individual product and its design,
- The specifics of the postural issue and its severity
- The person’s body composition and how well the brace fits
One thing I also think is important to consider, which I don’t see mentioned a lot, is that how you use the posture brace also have a big impact on whether wearing it does more harm than good.
Use Posture Braces Purposefully and Sparingly
If wearing the posture brace for too long has the potential to make your posture worse, you obviously should think about limiting the use.
If you are experiencing uncomfortableness or even pain and wearing the brace alleviate that at least to some degree this is going to sound tough.
You can read more about what to do if your posture improving efforts are painful here.
However, if you are wearing the back brace many hours every day and you are unable to slowly but gradually decrease the time, then you might want to consider if the brace is doing more harm than good.
After all, the goal with using the back brace is not to become reliant on it. It should also have a posture improving effect when you are not wearing the brace.
The end goal must be that you at some point don’t need the brace anymore.
How Effective Are Posture Braces Anyway?
Forcing your muscles and joints into a position that encourages good posture can be quite effective.
Even with the issues mentioned above, a lot of people use posture braces and have succeeded in improving their posture.
Just keep in mind, that you need to wear the brace over a longer period before it can have any significant posture correcting effect.
It took a long time for you to develop your poor posture, and fixing it won’t be a quick-fix either.
Correcting your posture will require long time and effort, but it is worth it!
The Importance Of Good Posture
Having bad posture does not only affect how you look, but studies also show that it can have a big impact on how you feel.
It also affects how other people respond to you, and having a poor posture creates unnecessary stress and tension for your body.
Right now you might have no problem. Slouching could even feel relaxing to you, but do you honestly think it is going to stay the same in 5-10 years from now or even later?
Bad posture will create more stress on your joints whether you feel it or not.
If you want to stay free of injuries, feel great both mentally and physically now and when you are much older, then having good posture is crucial!
For more information on the importance of good posture you can read this.
Is A Posture Brace The Solution For You?
A posture correcting brace can be a good help to fix your poor posture.
They are relatively cheap and quite a lot of people have said they were helpful.
Wearing a brace could even give you some degree of immediate relief to uncomfortableness or pain.
However, the thing you need to understand is that a posture brace is neither a quick-fix nor should it be a complete solution.
You can’t rely on only the brace. You will have to do different exercises to strengthen and stretch the right muscles.
You also need to develop good postural habits. By the way, you can check out these exercises in another article that I wrote.
Posture Correcting Shirts
There is an alternative to posture braces that do not share its issues, but they come at a higher price.
At first glance, these posture correcting shirts and look quite similar to compression clothing.
Though they are designed in a unique way which stimulates your muscles to contract or lengthen.
Unlike posture braces that mechanically pull your shoulders back, a posture correcting shirt will stimulate your muscles to do the actual work.
From this perspective, a posture correcting shirt can be well-suited for long-time use.
So are posture braces bad for you?
The answer is that they can be both good and bad.
It really depends on the specific circumstance and how you use them.
Fixing your posture is not an easy task, and I think anything you can get to help you can potentially make a big difference. So a posture brace could be a great investment.
If you are worried about the negative effects mentioned above, then I would recommend you get a posture correcting shirt instead.
I have written a lengthy guide on getting the right posture brace or posture shirt.
You can check it out here.