There is nothing inherently bad about a posture brace. They are a tool, like any other, and can be good if used properly or cause harm to your body if used improperly. The purpose of a posture brace is to provide extra stability to weak muscles and restrict movement to prevent injury.
A posture aid is very common, and is used to treat neck, shoulder, and back injuries. They provide temporary pain relief and each affected area has a support brace designed specifically for it. There are also medical braces used for treatment of spinal conditions like scoliosis or for post-operative healing.
Posture aids have been around for many years, and are commonly worn by people in laborious occupations such as construction. Even if one has a sedentary job, such as an office job, a support brace can be used to prevent slouching.
However, the problem with tools is that they can be used improperly. In this article, we discuss what happens if you misuse a posture aid device. We also go over the benefits you can expect to have when you wear it the right way.
Improperly Using Posture Braces
If you are not sure of how to wear a posture aid, then consult with a doctor or physiotherapist first. Read any instructions carefully, as well as user reviews to get an idea of how to use it. Otherwise, you may experience the following downsides:
One should not develop a dependence on posture braces. They are effective if worn sparingly, such as just prior to strenuous physical activity or to prevent an injury from worsening. The issue arises when users wear it all of the time, even when they no longer need it. Our muscles are supposed to naturally support our body, and letting the posture brace do all the work will cause them to weaken.
Over time, the underused muscles will atrophy (waste away), and that leads to an increased dependence on the posture aid. Additionally, further injury may occur because the weakened muscles may struggle to support the body and can get strained more easily.
In order for posture aids to be at their most effective, they need to be worn properly. Posture braces should have a snug fit on your body. If you are ordering the posture brace online, it can be difficult to purchase one that fits you properly without trial and error. If the posture support is worn improperly then it is not giving you the protection you want.
The safest option is to get prescribed a posture brace by a doctor who can then explain to you how to wear it properly and adjust it for you until it fits perfectly. Though it is less of a hassle and cheaper to do so, buying your own brace and fitting it on your own may worsen the problem if you make a mistake.
It is recommended that you see a doctor or physical therapist for an assessment, and allow them to select a brace for you. Not everyone’s body is the same, and not every injury can be treated the same way, so your specific situation may require a different brace than someone else.
While wearing a properly fitted posture aid device, users may feel extremely safe, almost as if they are impervious to injury. Unfortunately, this is not the case. It is still possible for a muscle or joint to be injured or further aggravated while wearing a brace.
In fact, if the wearer decides to perform even more physical activity than usual with the help of their brace, then they will likely get injured. It is better to think of a brace as back-up, something to be worn just-in-case. It is not a license to do even more heavy lifting or to sit for hours at a time without getting up to stretch.
Posture Isn’t “Fixed”
The underlying problem of poor posture is not fixed by wearing a posture brace. That is like saying if someone breaks a bone, wearing a cast fixes their broken bone. A cast simply keeps the bone in place and restricts any movement that can damage it. Similarly, a posture brace keeps injured muscles or joints in the proper position so that they can heal.
What truly “fixes” posture is strengthening the muscles so that they do not get injured so easily and learning how to maintain an upright posture for longer periods of time. While you are recovering from an injury, think of the posture aid as a tool in the medical toolbox that can temporarily protect your neck, shoulder, and back.
Posture is something one needs to be cognizant of all the time, and posture aids are not a magical fix. Furthermore, depending on it may result in all of the other negatives discussed in this section, so use it properly.
Especially if worn for too long, a posture brace can cause skin irritation. It is not recommended for the brace to be directly touching one’s skin. Always wear something under the brace, such as an undershirt. An improperly fitted posture brace can cause discomfort by chafing the skin.
Wearing it for too long can also cause skin lesions and rashes. People who wear the posture brace beyond the recommended time may also encounter sanitary issues. Posture braces should be regularly removed so that the skin underneath can be cleaned.
If worn during physical activity, posture braces should be cleaned frequently. Wearing a brace for so long can also cause one to perspire, further creating a need to wash the brace often. Sweat-stained posture aids smell terrible and can cause skin irritation. Allergic reactions to the brace will also cause irritations.
Posture Brace Benefits
When you follow your doctor or physiotherapist’s advice, as well as any instructions the support aid comes with, you can expect the following:
Relief from Pain
Posture braces provide extra support for injured muscles and temporary relief from pain. With that said, they should not be relied upon to support the entire weight of the user’s shoulders, neck, or back. Rather, it is better to think of them as a reminder to maintain proper posture, not as the solution.
When used properly, posture aids can give wearers peace of mind. They can also allow the user to continue moving and perform their daily activities like normal instead of being bedridden.
Posture aids are quite affordable. Compared to treatments for shoulder, neck, and back injuries, buying a posture brace is very cheap. Especially for those who would otherwise have had to take time off from work to recuperate, using a posture brace to give you support while you are injured is extremely beneficial. Braces can be purchased online or in-stores and the price ranges from $15 to $300.
If you always have an upright posture, you will appear taller and more confident. People with poor posture not only suffer from neck, back, and shoulder pain, but they look timid and unhappy. In fact, having better posture is more than just for appearance.
Studies show that people with proper posture report that they are happier and more relaxed. On the other hand, people with bad posture feel more anxious and stressed out. It is hypothesized that the strain they place on their body with lackluster posture is draining their stamina more quickly, causing discomfort, and resulting in a bad mood.
Lots to Choose From
There are myriad types of posture braces and brands to choose from. It is best to ask a doctor for their recommendation, however it would be prudent to conduct your own research as well.
You will have to make some decisions regarding the thickness of the straps, the material you want, and how much you can adjust it. Larger straps are less likely to dig into one’s skin and are generally more comfortable, so they are recommended.
Find out what material it is made from and look for ones that are breathable, and avoid any you are allergic to. Braces that allow for lots of adjustability are better than the ones with less options.
However, the most important factor is whether the brace can properly support your body type and if it is comfortable for YOU to wear. You may wear the brace on and off for a lengthy period of time, so be very picky about selecting the one you prefer.
Posture Braces Are Bad For You If You Use Them Wrong
Posture aids are a cost-effective and straightforward device that can help users recover from a muscle strain or spinal injury. They are intended for temporary use until you are feeling better, and can be worn briefly for extra protection during strenuous physical activity.
Issues start arising when users don’t follow directions or listen to their doctor. Posture aids are not intended to be worn all the time. Users who rely on their posture brace too much may experience skin lesions and muscle atrophy. If they are not worn properly, then they may not provide sufficient protection and further injury could result.