While some of the many tricks and techniques I've tried have worked for me, I wanted to speak to an expert, so I reached out to Dr. Jason Loth, a sports chiropractor with 17 years under his belt in addition to being the creator of the SpineAlign Pillow. He provided me with useful insights on what causes bad posture and how to fix it.
According to Dr. Loth, there are three main things he sees among his patients: "Weakness in the muscles meant to hold correct posture so they simply aren't able to do their job properly; dysfunction or lack of mobility in the joints necessary for correct posture and to be able to move into and maintain correct posture; and tightness in the muscles needed for correct posture, which then restricts a person's capability to move into and maintain correct posture."
Now that you know the causes, the question remains: how can you resolve these concerns? Dr. Loth suggests regularly exercising your back muscles, receiving massage therapy, visiting the chiropractor for adjustments if necessary, and making a conscious effort to sit or stand without slouching. On top of those daily suggestions, he also recommended some of these great products that may help improve your posture over time.
Dr. Loth believes that "regularly doing exercises to strengthen the proper muscles" is important "so they can hold the body in the correct position." A great tool for that is the PostureMedic. It's a brace that you wear over your shoulders and it pulls them back to keep you in the correct posture. But, you can also use it for stretching. The brace is made like a sports band and by doing the provided exercises for ten minutes each day, you can strengthen your back and shoulder muscles.
Dr. Loth recommends this posture shirt to his patients because it is, "designed to draw the shoulders back and facilitate your neuro-mechanism to force you into good posture." Basically, the shirt is made with tension panels that stimulate muscle groups and joints that work together to keep your spine aligned, thereby correcting your posture. When you wear this shirt, you'll also be working your core — another important element for improving your stance.
Another product I've personally tried and love that fits with Dr. Loth's suggestion for being consistently aware of when you're hunching over is the Upright Posture Trainer. This little device connects to an app on your phone. Whenever you wear it, it will vibrate when you start to slouch. You only need to wear it for 15 to 60 minutes each day, but doing so will train your body to recognize when it's slouching and when to readjust. The app gives you personal feedback on what to work on since everyone's training program will be a little bit different.
"We spend about one-third of our lives sleeping, so when the body is not in good alignment, tension builds in various muscles and joints, creating pain points and poor posture. When your body hurts, you tend to favor one side of your body or the other, or stoop your shoulders, and more." That's precisely why Dr. Loth invented the SpineAlign Pillow. It allows you to sleep in the right position whether you're a side or back sleeper. When you're regularly sleeping in the correct position, your posture will significantly improve since you won't be putting so much pressure on your spine.
I am a big believer in tens units. I have slipped discs and pinched nerves in my back several times thanks to doing gymnastics for years, a sport that screwed up my back and hip, causing a simply lovely amount of issues around my spine.
When I feel like I'm in a lot of pain, I use the tens unit to stimulate my back muscles, utilizing different settings including kneading, acupuncture, tapping, cupping, scrapping, and random. Dr. Loth explains, "Receiving massage therapy will loosen up any tight muscles and facilitate proper blood flow." That means that your posture will improve since when you're feeling pain, you tend to stand incorrectly.
Using a lumbar support is a great way to improve your posture. This inflatable one is portable and small, so it's perfect for travel. You can bring it to a sports stadium, in your car, or on the plane. It inflates by itself, all you do is twist the valve, and it will fill up in seconds. Dr. Loth told me that it, "Accentuates your lumbar curve for travel in a vehicle or sitting in a desk chair," which will ultimately improve overall posture.
Dr. Loth really stresses that being aware of the way you're sitting is super important in learning how to maintain a correct posture. Another great way to accomplish this: use a balance ball chair when you're seated for extended periods of time. It actually alleviates pain caused from sitting too long. It helps build a healthier core and back, and properly align the spine because of the way you'll be sitting. You can even remove the ball to use it for stretching and exercising.
Dr. Loth often recommends the use of a posture pump to his patients, explaining that it's a device that "you pump up to force your neck into correct posture." You lay in it and it helps to relieve discomfort or stiffness. It's excellent if you have a slipped disc or pinched nerve because it can alleviate the pressure, and it actually corrects forward head, neck, and upper back posture so you won't find yourself all hunched over anymore.
Black Soft Hook And Loop
My chiropractor gave me one of these when I was working in an office and sitting for long periods of time. It's very similar to the inflatable pillow that Dr. Loth suggested, only one is slightly bigger and connects to your chair using straps. It relieves lower and middle back pain, and can help you sit in a natural curve so your spine aligns correctly. I'll be totally honest, it definitely takes some getting used to but in the end, it really does help — you'll be sitting up straight in no time!
Similar to the the posture shirt by AlignMed that Dr. Loth often suggests to his patients, this bra is a great option if you need more support than the average balconette on a daily basis. The back of the bra features sewn-in crisscross reinforcement bands that help pull back your shoulders, allowing you to stand and sit with the correct posture. Plus, it's wireless and has wide straps that give you great support with none of the seams.
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