Do Posture Correctors Really Work? How to Use Them

Medically Reviewed By Gregory Minnis, DPT
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Posture correctors include shoulder posture braces, back support belts, and specially designed posture-correcting shirts. Wearing a posture corrector may help you improve your posture. A healthy posture reduces pain and discomfort in your muscles and back. Some experts believe that posture correctors are effective devices for changing posture. Posture correctors target muscle imbalances by guiding the body to use the right muscles for a healthier posture. This alleviates the pain and discomfort of tight or overstretched muscles.

However, a 2019 study found that posture-correcting shirts are not effective for musculoskeletal pain. This means that some posture correctors may be more beneficial than others. This also means that more research into the efficacy of certain types of postural supports may be necessary.

Read on to learn more about posture correctors and how they work. This guide also describes the symptoms of posture that is slouched, tense, or misaligned. It also provides tips for improving your posture.

How do posture correctors work?

A person has their hands on their back.
Zheng Long/Stocksy United

When you wear a posture corrector, it tells your body what a healthy posture should be. Posture correctors guide muscles into the right place to ensure that your back is straight and your shoulders are aligned.

Over time, posture correctors train your body to sit or stand in a healthy position. Your body then becomes aware of what a healthy posture feels like. Your body eventually adopts a healthy posture as its default position without you needing to think about it.

Who should wear a posture corrector?

Anyone who experiences back pain or muscle aches as a result of their posture may benefit from wearing a posture corrector.

Additionally, a posture corrector may be useful for:

  • rehabilitation following an operation
  • treating musculoskeletal conditions
  • people with Parkinson’s disease
  • improving occupational health and safety

However, research is needed into the long-term benefits of wearing posture correctors outside of a clinical setting.

Talk with your doctor if you have concerns about your posture. They will help you determine the right type of support for you.

What are the different types of posture correctors?

Different posture correctors target different areas of your body. The most common types help to correct posture in your shoulders, upper back, and lumbar spine.

Shoulder posture correctors help to pull the shoulders back and down. Lumbar supports prevent you from sitting with your back arched.

Posture-correcting shirts may help to improve your posture. However, according to a 2019 study,

more research into the efficacy of posture shirts is needed.

Important factors to consider when purchasing a posture corrector include:

  • Adjustability: An adjustable corrector will provide optimal support without being too tight or too loose. Many posture correctors have adjustable straps or fastenings.
  • Breathability: The corrector should be made from breathable, skin-friendly materials, particularly if you plan to wear it underneath clothing.
  • Wearability: People commonly wear posture correctors while going about their daily routine. To do so comfortably, make sure that the corrector is not restrictive or bulky underneath your clothing.

Talk with a physical therapist if you are unsure about what kind of posture corrector is right for you.

How long should I wear a posture corrector?

Posture correctors are not for permanent wear. Wearing some types of posture support

can lead to atrophy in the muscles that maintain proper posture.

Instead, the aim of wearing a posture corrector is to retrain your body so that your natural posture while sitting or standing is more healthy. Discuss with your doctor or physical therapist how long you should wear a posture corrector. The time depends on the type of corrector and how comfortable you feel when wearing it.

How else can I improve my posture?

Following are other methods of improving your posture instead of, or along with, wearing a posture corrector.

Use kinesiology tape

Studies show that kinesiology tape, sometimes called kinesio or KT tape, can reduce forward head posture. In addition to reducing this posture, the discreet tape can help reduce pain and discomfort.

Rearrange your workspace

If your desk setup means that you are constantly hunching over or sitting at an angle, make it more ergonomic. To do so, realign your computer, monitor, mouse, and keyboard.

When sitting at a desk, make sure to:

  • keep your eyes level with the monitor
  • have the mouse and keyboard next to each other and within easy reach
  • bend your elbows and knees at 90-degree angles
  • keep your feet flat on the floor
  • use armrests to reduce shoulder stress
  • use a headset instead of a telephone

Using a back support for your desk chair provides additional posture support.

Use a lumbar roll for back support

Positioning a lumbar roll between your lower back and the back of a chair provides necessary postural support. You can take the lumbar roll with you wherever you go, allowing you to use it in most chairs.

Learn more about lower back pain.

Change the way you sleep

The way you sleep can affect your posture. If you sleep on your front, try to sleep on your back or side instead.

You may find it more comfortable to place a pillow between your legs when sleeping on your side. Similarly, placing a pillow under your knees when sleeping on your back may make you more comfortable.

Perform stretching exercises

Doing simple stretching exercises a few times a day can help reduce muscle tension and alleviate pain.

Discover stretches for:

Exercise and stay active

Being active tones muscles and keeps them healthy. Toned muscles help maintain a healthy body posture.

Wear a maternity belt

If you are pregnant, wearing a maternity belt or belly band can help to support your back and ease pain. Most maternity supports are adjustable so that you can wear one throughout your pregnancy.

Learn more about how to improve your posture.

What does a healthy posture look like?

If you have a healthy posture, your head should be aligned with your spine, and your shoulders should be relaxed.

Keep your back, hips, and knees in a neutral position when standing. Make sure your feet are shoulder width apart, with your body weight evenly distributed.

For a healthy posture when you are sitting on a chair, sit with your back straight and your bottom against the back of the chair. Try to bend your knees at a right angle, and keep both feet flat on the floor.

If you are reading a book or texting with your phone, look down with your eyes rather than bend your neck. You increase the stress on your neck more than three times when you tilt your head 30 degrees.

What are the benefits of a healthy posture?

Having a healthy posture helps to alleviate aches and pains. Other benefits include:

  • reduced stress on joints and bones
  • stronger core muscles
  • easier breathing

Some experts believe that having a healthy posture can improve your mood. In contrast, slouching can encourage negative thoughts.

What are the symptoms of an unhealthy posture?

A slouched, tense, or misaligned posture makes you more susceptible to aching joints and muscles. You may feel aches in your:

  • neck
  • shoulders
  • hips
  • lower back

Other symptoms include:

  • a rounded stomach
  • rounded shoulders
  • muscle fatigue
  • headache

What causes an unhealthy posture?

A number of factors contribute to slouched, tense, or misaligned posture. These include activities such as:

  • hunching over when reading or using a smartphone
  • looking at a computer monitor that is not correctly aligned
  • sitting in a chair that does not provide adequate back support
  • using a chair that is not at the right height for you
  • sleeping with an unsupportive mattress or pillow
  • wearing high-heeled shoes
  • carrying heavy bags

Some health conditions can affect posture. These include:

Changes that occur with aging can affect posture. These changes include:

  • loss of calcium and bone density
  • reduced flexibility in the cartilage between spinal bones
  • loss of muscle
  • replacement of muscle with fat

What are the complications of having an unhealthy posture?

Maintaining a slouched, tense, or misaligned posture may cause complications such as:

You may also find that it can be harder to correct your posture later in life. Our bodies lose muscle strength and elasticity as we age, making it harder to correct years of unhealthy posture.

Other frequently asked questions

Here are more frequently asked questions about posture and posture correctors.

Do chiropractors recommend posture correctors?

Whether a chiropractor will recommend a posture corrector depends on the individual and the cause of the unhealthy posture. Contact your chiropractor for advice.

Can you correct years of bad posture?

It is possible to correct years of bad posture. However, it can be harder to correct your posture later in life. Your physical therapist will help you devise a plan to improve your posture.

Is it bad to wear a posture corrector all day?

You should avoid wearing a posture corrector all day or for extended periods of time. Instead, try wearing it for a couple of hours maximum, and then take a break from wearing it for the same duration.

Can I sleep with a posture corrector?

You should not wear a posture corrector to bed. Try to wear your posture corrector for no more than a few hours at a time during the day.

Summary

Posture correctors can help to encourage your muscles to naturally adopt a healthier posture when sitting or standing. Wearing a posture brace for 20 minutes to a few hours at a time can help to encourage this.

Different correctors are available. Some focus on pulling back the shoulders, and others concentrate on straightening the back.

Practicing good posture alongside wearing a posture corrector can further improve your posture. Making your workstation more ergonomic, improving the support you receive while sleeping, and maintaining a healthy weight and active lifestyle can all help improve posture.

Wearing a posture corrector can help to encourage healthier posture while reducing your risk of complications and making it easier for you to have a healthier posture later in life.

Talk with your doctor or physical therapist if you have concerns about your posture. They can advise you on a posture corrector that is right for you.

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Medical Reviewer: Gregory Minnis, DPT
Last Review Date: 2022 Jun 13
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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