Do you have poor posture? Are you interested in knowing more about posture braces and if they present a viable solution to your problem?
Then this article should be very useful to you!
Poor posture is an unfortunate side-effect of all the conveniences and technology of our modern lifestyle.
We spend the majority of our waking hours focusing on things in front of us and this does take a toll on the body.
Especially if you are not being very mindful of your posture, and considering all those exciting things happening on the computer screen, smartphone or television that be can quite hard.
Let us be honest here if you watch an exciting movie, work intensely trying to meet an important deadline or just tired after a long day, maintaining good posture is not the first thing on your mind.
In this article, I am going to cover:
- The effectiveness of posture braces
- Outline the different concerns you need to consider when buying a posture brace
What Is A Posture Brace?
Simply put, a posture brace is a piece of equipment you can wear to improve your posture.
Wearing one will essentially force your muscles and joints in a position that encourages good posture.
Posture braces have different designs and sizes, but the most popular design is the smaller brace that just goes around your shoulders.
This kind of brace is also called 8-figure clavicle brace and they provide support for your shoulders, neck, and upper back.
Another kind of posture brace is the bulkier one that resembles a vest. I have seen them referred to as posture back braces or vest-type posture braces.
This kind of braces offers support for shoulders, neck and the whole back.
Finally, there is a brace that just goes around the waist providing support for the lumbar region. This is can be a good option if have pain in the lower back or a more serious problem like herniated discs.
Can A Brace Really Improve My Posture?
To truly answer the question of whether posture braces work or not, it is necessary to first put the issue of posture in the right context.
It is important for you to understand that your current posture is something that you have developed over a long period.
A useful way to understand your posture is that it is a reflection of how you spend most of your time and in what kind of position.
If you spend a big portion of your time in a position where the weight/force is not being distributed equally on your body, your muscles and tendons around the joints will over time adapt as a result of that unequal distribution.
They either become elongated (and weak) due to constant stretching or shortened due to being tight all the time.
Typically it is a combination of the two creating a significant muscular imbalance that more or less “locks in” one body part or more in a compromising position.
That is the case with the common issues of rounded shoulders and forward head posture.
As mentioned above, your current posture is something that has taken a long time to develop, and one thing you can be sure of is that improving it will also be a long process.
Luckily, you need far less time to essentially undo what you have done to your body.
However, it is unrealistic that you can reverse the effects of a decade of poor posture in a few weeks. But that doesn’t mean you can’t see a big improvement within that timeframe.
Since it is a long process, wearing a posture brace can be a great help and potentially speed things up compared to if you were not using it.
In general, anything that can make a long process just a bit shorter and easier can potentially make a big difference since people usually give up or “forget” to follow through with long processes.
Not A “Complete” Solution
Using a posture brace can be effective for improving your posture, and there is an overwhelming amount of positive anecdotal evidence backing that up.
Wearing it can help stretch some of those tight muscles and strengthen some of those weak and elongated muscles.
It will also help you become more aware of what good posture looks and feels like.
With that being said, you should probably not expect great results from wearing a posture brace alone.
Very often poor posture is developed directly or indirectly due to the many hours spent sitting down every day and how you interact with your sorroundings.
Wearing a posture brace can help treat the “symptom” of the problem, but not it is not necessarily going to help with the cause.
In addition to wearing a posture brace, you need to consider the ergonomics of your surroundings and how you can improve them.
Additionally, you should do various exercises to stretch tight muscles and strengthen underdeveloped muscles.
You can, of course, choose only to do exercises, but it will probably not be as effective as combining the two.
Here is a useful video where Rick Kaselj shows how to fix rounded shoulders. It is a bit long but walks you through the whole problem and how to fix it with different exercises.
Issues With Posture Braces
There is another reason why you want to do exercises in addition to wearing the brace.
Depending on the posture brace and how it fits your body, wearing the brace for long periods have the potential to make your muscles reliant on the brace.
Since the brace is doing a lot of the work and not your muscles, they can weaken over time.
This is the main issue raised by many medical professionals, but it is arguably avoidable if the use of the posture brace is limited (1-2 hours per day) or if you also do exercises.
There is an alternative to posture braces that do not have this issue, but these products come at a higher price.
Things To Consider When Selecting A Posture Brace
There are many seemingly similar posture braces to choose between which can make it confusing.
If you want to buy a posture brace here are some things I would recommend you consider. You can also just have a look at the top products that I recommend.
You should be concerned about whether is material breathable and easy to wash.
Posture braces are usually made out of a synthetic fabric, but not all can be washed in a machine.
For some, this can be a deal breaker. Personally, I don’t like to wash things by hand.
One material you often see in these braces are neoprene rubber. The material is perfectly healthy and actually better than things like latex, but neoprene often has a weird smell.
The smell can be strong depending on a few factors like when it was manufactured and how long it has been inside the packaging.
For getting rid of the smell faster the manufacturers recommend washing and airing in the sun.
Easily Concealable Or Not?
Some braces are specifically designed to be worn to be worn underneath clothing. These should also according to the manufacturer be easily concealable.
Being easy to conceal is a great product feature which a lot of people obviously would be interested in.
However, from what I have been able to gather unless you wear more “baggier clothing” you can never full conceal a posture brace.
But if you want to wear a brace at work and looking professional is a concern, then you should get a small one.
Gender-specific Or Unisex?
Many braces are actually both unisex.
Interestingly enough, from what I have been able to understand from the user feedback, fewer people have fitting issues with the unisex braces than gender-specific.
So, perhaps getting a unisex model is a better choice.
Hard To Put On And Take Off
Especially the smaller braces can be a bit hard to put on by yourself. It requires a bit of shoulder flexibility, which is one thing people with rounded shoulders usually don’t have a lot of.
So, if you don’t have anyone around you to help, perhaps choosing the smaller braces are not such a good idea.
You didn’t get your rounded shoulders overnight. Similarly, you won’t cure them overnight.
It is going to be a long process and will require a lot of effort from your side.
Buying a relatively cheap posture brace could potentially make a big difference for you.
A lot of people have reported that they were helpful.
If you are willing to spend a bit more money, then a posture correcting shirt is probably the better choice for you.