The BeFit24 posture corrector is a well crafted tool that is quite popular for how well it works. This brace helped my stance when I was using it to study with. I started out wearing it everyday for 20 minutes till I would transition to 30 then 40 minutes. To get the true benefit of this posture corrector,I recommend using their sizing chart when you are planning to order with them as it will help you to order the correct size. The Velcro straps are adjustable and the actual material is quite soft while at the same time sturdy and rigid enough to shape your posture. The brace essentially helps to keep your back straight and your shoulders retracted.
The ComfyMed brace is perfect for adjusting your posture and helping your back pain. This brace can essentially help you from paying for those expensive chiropractor visits.
The brace has an extremely well designed and built lumbar pillow inside which helps promote proper posture and disperses the pain off the lumbar region. This posture corrector can adjust from sizes 38″ to 50″. The strap is also quite expendable thus giving you the leeway of ordering one size above or below. The outside portion has a sheer strap which can be used again to further tighten the strap. One of the bigger pluses of this corrector is the narrow belly area on the strap which prevents it from irritating your skin while sitting down. Overall, extremely well designed!
The BSN Pro-Lite Deluxe Clavicle Support comes with a unique design that ultimately can be worn just like a backpack. The “X” style design allows it to pull the shoulders back and help with proper alignment.
This posture corrector can help tremendously with those with a clavicle fracture as well because of the support system it provides. The straps are strong and built with robust fabric. The padding it self is soft and breathable providing supreme comfort. Ultimately, this corrector is built to last and perfect for those suffering from fibromyalgia, poor posture, back spasms and more. The product is latex free for those who are allergic. It is suggested to wear the corrector loosely at first until your body acclimates to the pressure and then you can increase the pressure gradually. Also they tend to run on the small side so be sure to order a size above if you are the higher end of the chart.
4. Real Doctors
Real Doctor’s posture corrector is claimed to actually be made and used by doctors. The apparatus it self is well-constructed.
The first thing I noticed about this posture corrector is that it runs small. It comes in two sizes small/medium and large/x-large, thus not much precision for exact size. Make sure you play around with the size till you get it correct or else it will ride up on you with any movement. The corrector can be worn for 6 hours consequentially with no problem but afterwards it tends to irriate the armpit slightly. This, however, can be alleviated with an undershirt.
5. Toros Group
This posture brace has an excellent feel to it. It is not uncomfortable , unless you tie the straps too tightly, and the wraps around the waist do not feel like they are weighing you down in any way. One downside is that they do run slightly bigger – which can be adjusted with the velcro straps. The biggest downside however is the look of this brace. It’s bulky exterior might shy some away from giving it a try, but that worry quickly dissipates once you wear a shirt over the brace. Also, the straps don’t irritate your underarms! Which can be a nuisance for those who have had a previous experience with posture braces. How do I know they are working? Well, they do make me want to sit in the correct posture when I am sitting in the sense that it keeps my shoulders back and prevents slouching. Remember, braces should be worn for 3-4 hours daily for a max. effect.
The Stability Ace Posture Corrector is a great piece of equipment that is perfect those in need of a posture correction or those with clavicular fractures. The corrector is unisex and comes in 6 different sizes .
The figure 8 design allows you to slip on the corrector just like a backpack and easily remove it as well through the adjustable velcro straps. I would describe the Stability Ace brace as lightweight and durable. The Velcro is still as sticky as it was when I first bought mine months ago. The padding is also pretty comfortable. Remember, discomfort in the first few days is OK – as your body is just adjusting to the posture corrector.
EasyComfort’s posture corrector is an excellent brace to use for women especially as it provides that perfect thoracic and lumbar support. However, it is unisex – so men fear not as it can definitely be used for men with posture issues as well. The fabric it self is made out of mainly nylon, spandex, and polyester.
In terms of the quality of the construction and the adjustable straps, the product fairs well with the other posture correctors on here.. It is extremely adjustable even at the portion that is located under the breasts where one can adjust the tension there as well.
The HealSmile Kyphosis Corrector has the most interesting design out of all the posture correctors on this list.
It is made out of carbon nano material and has 2 titanium like rods built into it’s brace. These metal inserts help keep your back and spine aligned when you attempt to hunch over. It also has fantastic lumbar support as well as thoracic support due it it’s stomach wrap.
As we have seen, the most common way that we try to improve our posture is by pulling in our lower backs when sitting or standing ‘up straight’, or drastically over-tensing the shoulder and upper back muscles as we try to ‘pull our shoulders back’. It is quite apparent to others that we are working the muscsles too hard and doing far too much and will not be able to maintain this posture for long, but for us it is practically the only way we were taught to improve posture as children.
Although the instruction to ‘sit/stand up straight’ was the most common postural training instruction we were given, it does not improve anything – in fact, it really only makes things worse. I find that when people first come to me to try and change their postural habits, many of them often find it difficult not to sit up straight with an over-arched lumbar curve. This is not because it is hard, as in reality it is far easier, but because it is the exact opposite of what they have been taught all their lives. The habit of over-arching the back has become so ingrained that, for many people, it actually feels wrong not to do it. This detrimental posture training is often given to children at a time when they are easily influenced and do not question the instructions given to them. I think that this is the main reason that most people still think improving posture means forcing or tensing the body into different shapes. Very few people have been given the tools they need to effectively improve their posture, which is what I hope to convey throughout this book. It is, in fact, a fresh approach to improving posture naturally – a way that does not involve physical effort and a method that everyone can learn.
Before we start trying to improve our posture, it is important to take a moment in order to get clear on what exactly it is we are trying to improve. This is perhaps more complex than it first seems, because many people can easily describe ‘good posture’ or ‘bad posture’, but find it much more difficult to accurately explain the word posture on its own or understand how good posture can be achieved effectively. When asked to define the word ‘posture’, most people describe it in one of the following ways:
- The position of my body during various activities
- The way in which I hold my body
- The shape that I am in at any given time
- The way I hold myself
- The way I carry myself
- My body’s position or stance
- The position of my limbs and body as a whole
- The way that I am
- The way that I hold my body when standing, sitting or moving
- The way I place my body and limbs
Just think for a moment – which one of these descriptions do you identify with? When someone thinks of improving their posture, they generally think of getting a better shape or position, and when they describe their own posture usually the words ‘hold’, ‘position’ and ‘shape’ come to mind. However, when we think of someone who already has good posture, many people think of a young child playing or an African woman walking so gracefully carrying a heavy water jar on top of her head. In both cases there is free and graceful movement that has little to do with holding, shape or position.
It is also interesting to note that when people are describing their own posture, the phrase that is most often repeated is ‘the way I hold myself’ or ‘the way I sit and stand’. This is because in developed countries most adults have lost the variety of natural movement that they had as children: a posture that is upright yet free, one that involves lots of different shapes and movements. ‘The way’ simply describes the stereotyped habits that we have adopted. Just watch young children in any school playground – they are skipping, then hopping, walking on their heels, then walking on tip-toe. Their movements are constantly changing and they do not have a ‘set’ way of sitting, standing or moving. In sharp contrast, most adults hold themselves in unnatural stances and have very definite stereotyped postural patterns of movement. These habitual patterns of movement are easily identifiable to others, but not to themselves. So it can be difficult to recognize your own small child at a distance when playing on a beach by the way he or she moves, because the way they are moving is constantly varying; instead, you have to identify them by the colour of the clothes they are wearing. Yet, you can easily recognize your adult friends by the way they walk, even before you can recognize their faces or clothing. These postural habits that we have unconsciously adopted can affect mobility and can even lead to physical disability and pain; this is entirely due to the excessive muscular tension that any fixed posture produces.
Alexander did not like the word ‘posture’ and used it as little as possible, because he found it too restrictive and did not consider the mind and emotions that also need to be taken into account. He also realized that many of us associated posture with a static condition – something that they were taught at school, rather than a dynamic, vibrant and natural way of being that we were born with. He could even see with his own pupils that they were trying to ‘get something’ rather than let go of their habits that affected the way that they used themselves as a whole, and once said: ‘You are not here to do exercises or to learn something right, but to get able to meet a stimulus that always puts you wrong and learn to deal with it.’ Many of us do not even recognize that we have particular habits that are affecting our posture let alone know how to refrain from doing them.
So it is important to understand that posture is not merely a position or shape: it is our response to gravity at any given moment. There is no single correct way to stand or sit, even though I am sure most people would agree that there are potentially harmful ways of doing so. Natural posture is the product of a set of innate reflexes, called the ‘postural reflexes’, which maintain balance and good coordination, without any conscious involvement on your part. If you begin to lose your balance, your postural reflexes go into operation immediately and put you upright again. These reflexes are totally automatic and are activated by various reflex ‘triggers’ throughout your body, yet without knowing, we often interfere in their operation by holding much more muscular tension than we need. This tension is the direct result of the unconscious postural habits and inappropriate stereotyped ways of moving that we have been talking about.
A more accurate definition of the word posture is: The relationship of one or more parts of the body to the rest.
When that relationship is free, good posture happens naturally, but when that relationship is restricted because of tension, poor posture is inevitable, irrespective of the position or shape we adopt. In summary, if we have freedom within the body, the right posture will be there without us having to do anything. To achieve this we need to start to become aware of, and let go of, the unnecessary and unconscious tension that we carry.
Postural Reflexes and Muscles
When looking at how the muscular system works, it is important to realize that there are two very different types of muscle, which are responsible for doing two very different jobs. There are the muscles that organize posture and those that organize movement. While it is true that any muscles can at times do both tasks, some muscles are more suited to the task of performing movement while others the task of maintaining posture.
The first type of muscle, whose primary task is to keep us upright against the ever-present force of gravity, is often referred to as the postural muscle. We rarely have to think about maintaining our balance as we go about our daily activities – it is all done for us by an amazing system of complex postural reflexes without any conscious effort on our part. We can stand for a long time without these muscles tiring because they are ‘fatigue resistant’ and are automatically triggered by powerful reflexes throughout the body, producing the appropriate muscle tone. As soon as the stimulus for these reflexes is reduced, these muscles automatically relax. We are often not aware of these processes because they often take place below the level of our consciousness.
By contrast, the phasic muscles, which are more suited to perform activities, work very differently: if you want to raise an arm, you must first make a conscious decision to move the arm and then determine how much you want to lift it. The muscles you use in this way react quickly, but also tire quickly. You can try this for yourself by holding your arm out to your side horizontally; within a few minutes you will be able to feel the muscles in your arm begin to tire. This becomes clearer when you look at the chart overleaf, which compares the different types of muscle and their function.
The crucial point here is that trying to improve posture by deliberately sitting up straight and pulling our shoulders back will never ever work, no matter how hard we try, because we will be using our phasic muscles rather than our postural muscles to do so. They are simply not the right muscles for the job and as a result will tire very quickly, and so we will not be able to maintain even what we think is a ‘good position’ for very long. So, even with the best of intentions, if we use the ‘phasic muscles’ to improve our posture (which is exactly what most of us do when we try to ‘improve posture’), we will fail time and time again, and we will soon find ourselves with exactly the same postural problems that we had when we started. Even if someone had lots of willpower and was prepared to put up with the discomfort, over time these muscles would become fatigued and gradually become more and more immobile, eventually causing one of the many musculoskeletal problems that we see today.
Instead, the key to good posture is to learn to reduce the amount of tension in the overworked phasic muscles so that the postural muscles will automatically start to work as they were designed to do. This is what Alexander meant when he said that if you stop the wrong thing, the right thing will happen by itself. How to let go of inappropriate muscle tension will be explained in later chapters.
There is also another point to consider: muscles are able to perform only two actions: they can contract (become shorter) or stop contracting (become longer). Muscles generally work in pairs: one muscle will contract and the other will lengthen to produce movement. If your shoulders are rounded, then it is the muscles in the front of the body (for example, the pectoralis major) that are over-contracted; this has the effect that the shoulders are pulled forward. Because muscles can only contract or stop contracting, it is obvious that the problem lies with the front muscles, yet instead of trying to find a way of releasing the front muscles, many people try to rectify the situation by deliberately pulling the shoulders back, which is merely contracting a completely different set of muscles in the upper back (for example, the latissimus dorsi). So, in effect, the front and back muscles are working against each other like a ‘tug of war’, and this can dramatically affect the free movement of the shoulder. This example illustrates how all too often our attempts to ‘improve our posture’ actually result in more muscular tension, which only makes matters worse, rather than better. Again, Alexander’s statement ‘When you stop doing the wrong thing, the right thing does itself’ is particularly apt when it comes to improving posture in the above situation. If we can learn to release the over-tightened front muscles, the shoulder will return to its natural state. Dr Miriam Wohl, an Alexander Teacher and medical doctor, summed up the issue nicely: ‘When we use constructive conscious control, by applying the Alexander principles, we can employ our thinking abilities to elicit our postural reflexes and to refrain from using the phasic muscles to support us, and making our posture more natural.’
How Posture Affects Our Mind, Body, and Soul
There is another way of describing posture: It is the outward expression of how you feel inside.
A good example of this is watching the posture of a player who has just won a sports match, compared with the player who has just lost. The one who has just won naturally has an open and upright look, while the one who has lost often has rounded shoulders and a ‘pulled down’ look about them. So, it is important to realize that when we begin to change the way we think we will be also bringing about physical and emotional changes too.
Another example can be seen when observing a person who suffers from depression. Although depression is seen by many as a mental or emotional illness, it is clearly portrayed by the outward shape of the person. They are actually physically ‘pulled down’ or ‘depressed’ by muscular tension. It is interesting that the word ‘depress’, which we use to describe an emotional or mental state, can also be applied to a physical thing such as a cardboard box.
Since the mind and body are inseparable, adopting a rigid position or shape also affects the way we think or feel, because a tense body reflects rigid thinking, pain or the suppression of emotions. Poor posture can also be caused by the way we think. Our thoughts are powerful enough to produce a physical or emotional reaction, and often we feel that we can do little about it. In order to start to improve our posture, it is essential that we treat the body, mind and emotions as a whole and not look upon them as separate entities. Thousands of years ago, the famous Greek physician, Hippocrates, stated that the treatment of physical symptoms without consideration of the patient’s mental and emotional state would be completely ineffective. The same applies to our posture. Yet today, when trying to improve posture, it is often only our physical symptoms that are given consideration; we do not usually take into account our mental or emotional state. This is partly due to the views of the French philosopher René Descartes, who believed that the mind and body were made of different substances and were therefore governed by different laws. His theory of mind–body division has dominated science for nearly 400 years, and it is only in the last few years that neuroscientists are realizing that the mind and body are truly indivisible, and therefore improving posture must involve improving the way we use our whole self and not just the physical body.
So, the first thing we need to do to achieve a healthier, more natural posture is to realize that we never have to ‘sit up straight’ again! Instead, we need to find out what caused our posture to deteriorate in the first place and eliminate this from our lives. We will start in the next chapter to examine one of the biggest reasons why we obtain poor posture in the first place: the classroom.