By: Sonia Marques D.C.
Poor posture is a very common issue that many of us are aware of and actively trying to correct. Even with regular exercise, including Pilates and other core strengthening specific exercises, the current digital age has all of us looking at our phones or tablets or laptops. As we spend much of our day sitting and looking at various screens, we catch ourselves slouching and hunching with our chins jutting forwards. Hunching forward to get our faces close to the screen causes an imbalance in the muscles in the neck and back. The anterior muscles contract and shorten and the posterior muscles lengthen and weaken. A few minutes in an awkward position wouldn’t cause too much of an impact, but it’s easy to spend hours like this, which leads to spasms and pain and can ultimately cause permanent changes, like arthritis.
Although support braces have been around for a while, there has been an uptick in devices and sensors to correct posture. The harness style devices usually fit like a backpack and have adjustable padded straps looped over your shoulders to pull your body into better alignment. They are designed to be worn for short periods of time to retrain your musculature. The most beneficial element to these posture-correcting braces may be the increased self-awareness that comes from wearing one. Braces can be great reminders, especially in the short term for short periods of time, but the danger of relying on the brace would be that it weakens the very muscles you are trying to strengthen.
Higher tech devices that monitor your posture and buzz when you fall out of correct posture (known as “tech wearables”) can be more effective in correcting posture than support braces. The goal over time with these is to train your body to maintain proper posture without any external aids. They remind you to engage your musculature for correction and typically have metrics that allow you to monitor your progress. Although a neat device, tech wearables don’t do anything other than remind you of what you should be doing. Performing daily stretches and setting timers to limit screen time can have a similar outcome to using a gadget. Additionally, the long-term results of using tech wearables are unknown at this time. However, using a tech wearable can be the helpful little tap on the shoulder that someone might need and seeing progress on the app always has a greater outcome for success.
The best bet for posture correction is to be properly assessed and have your chiropractor or therapist come up with a unique and individualized treatment plan, including home care and proper ergonomics. Using a tech wearable during the initial stages could be a helpful tool to have in your arsenal as well.