If you are looking to buy or already bought a back brace to alleviate pain and improve posture, chances are that you need to figure out how to put it on properly and also how long you should wear it.
Before I get into it, let me very briefly go over what a back brace or posture brace exactly is and how useful they can be.
What Is A Back Brace/Posture Brace?
A back or posture brace is a piece of equipment you can wear to improve your posture and alleviate pain.
I bet you already knew that, but keep in mind that back braces come in different sizes and designs.
Basically, there are two major distinctions. The first kind of back brace is a smaller one that goes around the shoulders and only provides support for your shoulders, neck and upper back.
The second kind of back brace is bulkier and resembles a vest. This one provides support for the whole upper body.
How Effective Are Back Braces?
Wearing a back brace will essentially force your muscles and joints into a position that encourages good posture.
This can be quite effective, but keep in mind that you need to wear the brace over a longer period before it can have any posture correcting effect.
Wearing it might provide some immediate pain relief, but for a long-term pain relief, you need to retrain your muscles and develop good postural habits.
Your bad posture wasn’t created overnight and similarly it won’t be cured overnight.
Another thing to consider is that wearing the back brace for too long at a time has the potential to make your posture worse.
The issue is that the brace is doing most of the work in stabilizing your body and not your muscles.
It is hard to say how much work the brace is potentially doing, and I have read a lot of conflicting information.
My guess is that really depends on the type of brace and how it fits on your body.
However, if the brace is doing a lot of stabilizing work, your muscles are probably not becoming stronger and they could even become weaker.
There is an alternative to posture braces that do not have this issue, but these products come at a higher price.
How To Wear A Back Brace Properly
Obviously, if you already bought a posture brace and instructions came with the product, then you should pay close attention to those.
But, from what I have been able to gather in my research, not all back braces come with good instructions.
The first piece of advice is that you should consider having someone else to help you put on the back brace for at least the first time.
It varies from product to product how difficult the back braces are to put on, but you if you bought a brace or are considering buying one, then you are probably not too flexible.
Before you follow the steps below, please confer with any instructions that followed the product.
So, putting on the back brace can be done in 3 steps.
- Open or loosen up the posture brace
- Stand upright with a good posture. It can be useful to have someone critiqued your posture to make sure everything is good.
- While standing in that posture, put on the posture brace and adjust the straps or whatever is making the brace fit tighter.
You need to make the brace fit tight otherwise it might not be working properly, but on the other hand, it should also not feel too uncomfortable.
If the brace is sliding up and down your back it is probably too lose, but if you, on the other hand, have a tough time breathing it is probably too tight.
By the way, I would recommend you wear the brace outside a t-shirt to make it more comfortable. This is also recommended by most companies that sell these.
How Long You Should Wear A Back Brace
Most companies will recommend that you only wear the brace for 30-60 minutes per day at least in the beginning.
As you get more used to wearing the brace it is probably fine to increase the duration.
However, the back brace should not be worn for too long at a time. As mentioned above, wearing it for too long can potentially do more harm than good.
It is difficult for me to tell you how long is too long, but if you are wearing a back brace many hours every day and you are not able to gradually use it less and less, then you might want to consider that it is not working for you.
After all, your goal with using the back brace should be to slowly improve your posture and not that it is only when you are wearing the brace that your posture is good.
The end goal is that you at some point don’t need the brace anymore.
How Fast Can You Expect Improvements
From what I can understand, after wearing the brace for roughly 1-2 weeks you should start seeing small improvements.
How long before significant improvements depend on your circumstances.
Simply put, it depends on how bad your posture and habits are, e.g. you spend most of the day sitting in a bad position.
However, it all starts with you making the decision and commitment to fixing your posture.
You need to be consistent with wearing the brace and focus on increasing your awareness of how to maintain good posture in your daily activities.
If you want to buy a posture brace or posture shirt, I recommend you check out my buyer’s guide here.