Are Posture Correctors Effective?
Advertisements for posture-correcting gadgets claim their products will make you look thinner, younger and more attractive. All you need to do, one ad proclaims, is wear a $39.95 shoulder-strapping device called PostureNOW for 10 - 30 minutes per day. PostureNOW is just one of many "posture correctors" on the market, aimed at correcting slouching brought on by hunching over cell phones, tablets and laptops all day.
Also available: posture-correcting bras, braces, shirts and even digital sensors—all aimed at making you straighten up. But do these devices even work?
While having good posture is a great goal, most posture correctors do not help you achieve it. In fact, some of these devices can do more harm than good. This is because your body begins to rely on the devices to hold you up, especially if you wear them for long periods. This can cause the core muscles you would normally use to achieve better posture to relax and weaken.
In 2019, a Scandinavian research review examined six studies claiming to show that wearable shirt-type posture correctors worked. The review found that most of these studies were poorly designed and, due to funding by device manufacturers, were potentially biased. The review authors concluded there was no credible evidence that this type of posture corrector worked.
Another type of posture corrector uses a different method entirely to "correct" your posture, which some users have said works for them. The Upright Go device involves sticking a keyfob-sized sensor to your back or wearing it as a necklace. The sensor works with a smartphone app to detect when you slouch and will gently vibrate to remind you to change position. The downside of this is price —about $85.00, plus extra costs for the optional necklace chain.
Good posture is important, experts say. Standing properly relieves pressure on your spine, neck and shoulders. It also reduces neck and back pain—a big problem in America, with about a quarter of us reporting having back pain for at least 1 day in a 3 month period. Many of us also experience "text neck," caused by spending prolonged periods of time with our heads (average weight: 11 pounds) tilted down, staring at screens.
In addition to better mood, the benefits of good posture include:
- Avoiding irreversible damage to your spine
- Reducing your risk of osteoarthritis
- Improving flexibility and joint movement
- Decreasing your risk of falls by improving your balance
- Helping you breathe easier by giving your lungs more room to expand
One benefit posture devices provide is increasing your awareness of your posture and whether you need to fix it. But experts say the best way to improve your posture is through core-strengthening exercises, such as yoga, and by working to stand and sit correctly in your daily life.
Some simple tips to follow include:
- When sitting, keep your chin parallel to the floor, with your knees and feet pointing straight ahead.
- If you work at a desk, consult with your employer or view online advice for setting up a posture-friendly and ergonomic workspace. Also, be sure to get up and stretch frequently; many experts advise moving around once per hour.
- When standing, keep your shoulders down and back, your spine neutral (no flexing or arching), your hips even and your knees pointed forward, your abdominal muscles tight, and your weight distributed evenly on both feet, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
If you have trouble with poor posture despite following the above guidelines, consult with your physician to determine whether you have a contributing disorder, such as scoliosis (spinal curvature). You may also need to work with a physical therapist to find an exercise regimen that helps you achieve correct posture—without the use of gimmicky gadgets.