Help or Hinder: Posture Correcting Devices | Functionize Health & Physical Therapy

Help or Hinder: Posture Correcting Devices

Help or Hinder: What Will This Gadget Do?
A blog series dedicated to covering products that promise relief.

  1. Series Introduction + The Neck Hammock
  2. – Posture Correcting Devices

Look, I’m just going to jump right in. Not to be dramatic, but bad posture is just as harmful as smoking ~50 packs of cigarettes per day. 

OK, so maybe I’m being a little dramatic. Bad posture isn’t THAT bad, but it truly is often the root cause of many issues- I’m not just talkin’ the obvious neck/low back pain. Poor posture can contribute to the dreaded “pooch,” headaches, jaw pain, rib/shoulder dysfunction, knee and foot pain…the list goes on. When I very professionally consulted local physical therapist and expert Sarah Terpin, PT, DPT, by yelling across the room to ask her what type of problems arise from poor posture, she said, and this a direct quote, “Literally everything.

The depth expressed here is borderline alarming. PT or poet? All I’m saying is we’ve never seen Sarah in the same room as either William Shakespeare OR Rupi Kaur.

The good news? For the average person, proper posture is relatively easy to achieve when it comes to the physical aspect. There are countless basic checklists/guides online for correct seated and standing posture. All it takes is a quick Google search! The tricky part? Actually remembering to engage said correct form! 

I start off each morning doing all right. Sitting upright at my desk, shoulders back, everything properly aligned. But, by the end of the day (or by 11 AM, really), I inevitably resemble a troll hunkered under a bridge, ready to terrify the next unsuspecting Billy Goat Gruff.

Actual footage of me working at my office desk.

Wouldn’t it be nice if some invisible puppet-master could just hold us up by strings? Or, like, I’ve always wished I could wear a backpack without the pack and just pull the straps so tight that it kept my shoulders from rolling forward. It wouldn’t have to be bulky or expensive and the Everyday Joe/Joan could wear it under or over their clothes. Seriously, how cool would it be if something like that existed?

“Oh, you mean like this thing,” my Instagram Feed said to me. Why, yes, Instagram Feed. Just like that thing.

Turns out, someone sneaked into my brain and stole that thoughtfully crafted backpack-without-the-pack design right from my mental file cabinet of Great Ideas.

While this invention seems like a great idea to someone like myself who is not a physical therapist, it turns out it’s not actually all that beneficial. I once again sought out the professional opinion of a nearby colleague. Take it away, Sarah!

“They work, they just don’t make your muscles learn anything. Your muscles actually end up weaker because they go on vacation, no one’s asking them to do anything. It makes you more dependent on the device than actually improving your posture.” – Sarah Terpin, PT, DPT. 2019.

You can’t even spell POET without PT, so.

So, is there a method out there that does aid in training those muscles to “act right,” as my mother would say? 

Of course! I’m sure you’re surprised (as am I), but this blog does contain some value! I actually have several methods to share with you today.

METHOD 1: UpRight Device

Harmless humans correcting their posture or sentient android blending in? It is truly the year 2019.

WHAT DOES IT DO: Simply put, this bad boy sticks to your back and gently buzzes when you slouch. You connect it to your smartphone via an app. We are living in the future, people!!

WHY DOES IT WORK: Apart from reminding you to straighten up, it’s not doing anything FOR you. By constantly correcting your posture, you are asking those muscles to work, to learn, and because of that it will become natural over time to sit/stand with good form.

UpRight claims that you only need to wear it for 5 minute – an hour a day to see improvement, but Amazon reviews are mixed. Our take? If you follow the instructions and make sure to properly correct your posture whenever it buzzes (over-correcting is a thing!), then you could definitely benefit from this device.

METHOD 2: Alarm

Local Physical Therapist and Poet Sarah Terpin, PT, DPT, suggests simply setting multiple alarms on your phone throughout the day to remind you to take stock of your form. De-hunch. Crawl out from under your bridge. Leave the goats alone. Make corrections as needed then continue with your day. 

It’s basically the free version of UpRight. Sarah suggests setting your alarm for every 20 minutes, but that’s not a hard rule.

Bonus: These alarms can also serve as a reminder to stand up, walk around, give your eyes a break from your computer screen, drink some water…you know, just ~indulge~ in your basic needs as a living, breathing human being.

METHOD 3: Tape

The lovely Brie.

This one is the best of both worlds, in my opinion. The tape doesn’t do all the work for your muscles. Instead, when you return to a slouched position, the gentle pull reminds you to readjust. Front Office Coordinator Brie and I have both tried this method for a couple of days and noticed a difference. Our muscles were a bit sore, but not terribly so, and the tape was only noticeable when in a hunched position.

Brie is now accepting work as an upper back model.
(But not for Marcus Hyde!)

There are a variety of ways to be taped, but here Sarah is doing a very simple technique to help improve thoracic spine and scapular positioning which also encourages the muscles to hold that better posture when the tape comes off.

So, while it would be nice to just wear some discreet straps and have gorgeous posture at the end of the day, that’s not really how it works. Instead, try out these methods and you’ll be the posture poster child!

Huge thanks to our Sarah for taking the time to chat with me about these different methods and various posture devices! She has also done so much to help myself and Brie work towards having better form- I am so appreciative! If you’re interested in learning more about how proper posture can help eliminate your pain, contact us today and we’ll get you on Sarah’s schedule.

Have you come across the UpRight device? What about another physical therapy-related product or gadget? Let us know if there’s something you’d like for us to investigate for our next Help or Hinder post!

Remember to check with your PT or physician before using anything claiming to heal symptoms or eliminate pain.

Thanks for reading!
Mary Kathleen is our in-house Wordsmith and Social Media Manager.

Mary Kathleen Toner

Author Mary Kathleen Toner

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