Every day, we spend many hours hunched over our computers. We crane our necks downward as we scroll through Instagram mindlessly. We twist our bodies into the position that best suits our needs as we work from our couches.
Our nation’s encounter with the pandemic has put us directly into the worst posture imaginable. Let Christine Rodriguez, PT, DPT, OCS, cert. MDT, explain: There are many circumstances in which we can’t leave the house. Any other walks at the water cooler, gym sessions, or jogs down the road have also been erased from our lifestyles.
Add to that: Your body is naturally lazy. Your body will take the path of least resistance, progress will show up in the form of a rounded shoulder, hunched back, head pushed forward, and other issues that Rodriguez identifies. In addition to this, inadequate posture may also lead to pain. It can result in problems with the neck, upper back, shoulders, and lower back, and these problems can even lead to injury.
If this sounds familiar, you may want to think about using a posture corrector. These devices come in many forms. Some resemble a harness, resting on your shoulders or across your back. Others are clothing with special panels designed to help you activate certain muscle groups. Some even combine these methods. Another alternative is to use a pad that sticks on the back of your body and vibrates to alert you to sit straight.
How Posture Correctors Work
Posture correctors are all designed to improve muscular imbalances that may result when we spend too much time, whether it is persistent sitting or standing, in poor, fixed positions. The front muscles of the chest (pectorals) are more likely to become tight, whereas the muscles in the upper back, including the middle trap and rhomboids, tend to become overstretched. Correctors can help activate the muscles that haven’t worked enough and give them a guide for where they need to be.
“This is called proprioception, where the body gets sensory feedback in order to feel where it’s supposed to be in space,” says Rodriguez. Proprioception is an attribute that is essential for you to move without feeling obligated to stop and think about every step you take. If you think that your finger is touching your nose with your eyes closed, then you are able to walk along with a flight of stairs without looking at each step, or you could sit in a chair without looking under the seat cushion.
Correctors can help us improve our proprioception by enhancing our understanding of bodily sensations and notifying us when we’ve veered from our desired posture. If I start slumping, the posture corrector will get me to hold an upright position by causing me to tuck my lower back or pull my shoulders back.
How to Choose a Posture Corrector
There is contradictory information on whether or not one type of corrector is better than another, and Rodriguez says that any corrector could be used if you follow the basic guidelines as an ordinary routine. If you’d like to try one, here are some things to familiarize yourself with.
Does it target your weak areas? There are various posture adapters for your various body parts. The most popular ones are for your shoulders, your cervical thoracic joint, as well as your lumbar vertebrae. If you are not sure where your body’s weakened areas lie, look at the contours of your posture from navel up to focus on the origin of your slouch. Is it your back curving too much? Try a support belt with lumbar support. Are your shoulders hunched or are your necks drifting forward? Consider one that helps keep your shoulders down and back. Perhaps you truly need physical therapy in order to determine which belt is ideal for your needs.
Does it fit comfortably? You want to have fabric that is breathable and keeps your skin comfortable but doesn’t restrict your movements to an awkward position. If it doesn’t keep you comfortable, it won’t work, as you won’t want to wear it.
Can you use it by yourself? You don’t want or need a gadget requiring a Ph.D. to operate. You want to be able to put it in place, adjust it and take it off without confronting any other individual for you to tighten a strap or lift it off of you.
Does it look okay? Take a peek at how it lays beneath your clothes. It is likely you want your posture corrector hidden from view.
Is the price right? Posture correctors, especially those that are technologically advanced, cost more money than others.
How to Use a Posture Corrector
Limiting use to only a few hours per day. If you keep it on too long, your body may get used to the need for the machine so much that you return to that sphere. When you find yourself more comfortable with your posture in the mirror, that’s when you can stop using your posture corrector. There is no magic number for how long you will have to wear one, but when the beauty of yourself with good posture please you, that’s when you can say farewell to your posture corrector.
These exercise devices must be used with a physical exercise that is designed to increase your posture or strength. Your focus should be on showing your body how it feels to be in ideal alignment and on strengthening the muscle groups you need to achieve this.
The point is to become more aware of what your body is doing and to nudge yourself into a more balanced position, as stated by Rodriguez. “You want to engage those postural and stabilizing muscles while wearing the posture corrector so your body can recruit those muscles on its own later on.”