Many people with chronic back pain experience poor physical posture caused by illness, injury, or muscular weakness. Posture correction devices have a long history, but while the early versions resembled torture implements, modern devices are more sophisticated. The use of technology enabled the development of advanced materials to use in items such as back braces and seat cushions. Most recently, the creation of smart, connected wearables, apps, and other devices has delivered new ways patients can address their condition.
Modern posture correction devices use a range of technologies to help support spinal alignment and reduce the condition's impact.
Wearables such as connected back braces, smart clothing, electronically-enabled furniture, and digital trackers all help to encourage correct posture and to record changes in the patient's condition.
Smart new posture correction devices connect electronically to the wearer to monitor and track posture problems, and deliver alerts to help remind them to straighten up.
While most of the devices available offer some relief and can support treatment and user efforts to change, few are likely to deliver actual cures. All posture correction devices should be used in conjunction with other measures.
Back pain is one of the most common types of pain experienced by adults in the United States, with 65 million sufferers as of 2019. Many patients benefit from the use of posture correction devices, either to strengthen their musculature or to support their skeleton during physical activities. Technology has enabled scientists to develop several advanced new devices to reduce some of the discomforts and give patients back their quality of life.
Causes of back pain
survey showed 26% of U.S. adults with back problems blamed weak back
muscles or a lack of exercise, while another 26% attributed the cause to
physical work. However, the prevalence of laptop and mobile device usage is a
massive factor in the development of back pain, particularly for younger
people. A five-year study of Swedish young adults showed a distinct
relationship between those who received 11 or more text messages a day and
those who developed musculoskeletal disorders affecting their backs. According to a study
in the Spine journal, some patients, including those statistically too
young to have back and neck issues, also reported disk hernias and alignment
problems in addition to “text neck.”
The origins of posture correction
Posture correction first emerged in the 16th century as a way to stand and deploy weapons correctly. This became synonymous with success in the military and eventually overflowed into civilian life. By the 19th century, a German anatomist had established health posture as the basis for modern orthopedics. Society, however, had somehow managed to infer a relationship between “good” posture, self-discipline, and morality, which led to the introduction of corsets and other restrictive clothing that helped keep posture in check.
As this fashion dwindled in influence people began slouching again, until by 1890, half of all children were diagnosed as having "abnormal" spinal curvatures. Metal headbands, iron corsets, and back and shoulder braces eventually debuted during the 20th century. These were intended mainly to treat conditions like scoliosis and curvature and were remarkably successful. In many cases, the results lasted long after the treatment ended.
Most early back, neck, and shoulder braces engineered for posture correction were manufactured from neoprene, often supported and strengthened by whalebone or, later, metal or plastic.
Modern posture correction devices
It's important to note that while posture correction devices can be helpful, they should be used in conjunction with other methods of improving postures, such as regular exercise and conscious efforts to maintain good posture throughout the day. Additionally, if you have a medical condition affecting your posture, consult with a healthcare professional before using any posture correction devices.
Modern posture correction devices have come a long way since those early days. Now, some of the most popular braces use sophisticated materials and techniques to improve posture and reduce the risk of developing musculoskeletal issues associated with poor posture. Here are some common types of posture correction devices:
Braces such as the FY Posture Corrector help prevent hunching and slouching and may improve scoliosis. The brace is made from breathable, latex-free material and works by pushing back the shoulders and aligning the spine. These braces can be worn discreetly under clothing.
Equipment such as the Sleepavo Memory Foam Seat Cushions are designed to be used on chairs and car seats to promote proper spine and pelvis alignment, and prevent slouching and back pain caused by prolonged sitting.
Adjustable straps such as the Copper Compression posture corrector work by pulling the shoulders back and promoting proper alignment of the spine. Made with copper-infused antimicrobial fabric that kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi, the device wicks moisture away and dries quickly. It has an adjustable wrap for the lower back and stomach that provides extra support and is ideal for use during sports or exercise.
These are tools designed to help improve posture through activities targeting specific muscles that support the spine and promote good posture. Examples include foam rollers, exercise balls, and resistance bands.
Smart posture correction devices
While many modern posture correction devices use technology in their fabrics and the engineering techniques followed to make them effective, real progress shows up when we review the connected devices. Smart posture correction devices use sensors and Bluetooth connectivity to track posture and provide feedback and reminders to help the wearer maintain good posture. Here are some examples of smart posture correction devices:
Electronic back braces
The Upright GO 2 Electronic Posture Trainer is a strapless wearable that the user attaches to their upper back. It uses multi-sensor technology to vibrate whenever the wearer slouches or changes position, which reminds them to correct their posture.
Users can download the free Upright App for smartphones and set up a customized daily training program and progress tracking options. They can adjust the device's sensitivity, increase or decrease their training time, and alter the vibration intensity.
After reaching their daily goals, wearers can turn off the vibrations and continue to record posture without getting reminders to correct their position. The Upright GO device manufacturers claim regular use can improve the wearer’s posture in two weeks.
Posture tracking devices
Posture tracking devices can be clipped onto your clothing or worn as a necklace, and use sensors to track your posture throughout the day. For example, Upright is a little, white, rectangular wearable device users attach with an adhesive strip between their shoulders. It’s accompanied by iPhone and Android posture software that uses connectivity to provide real-time feedback and send notifications to remind you to adjust your posture.
Several desks and workstations use sensors to track a person’s posture and provide feedback to help them maintain good alignment while working. For example, the Norm Model B desk is designed to enhance the productivity and well-being of its user. The desk tracks the user’s posture and delivers an audible signal when it detects slouching. This feature promotes good posture and reduces the risks of back or neck pain. Moreover, the desk reminds users to take breaks and move around to prevent the stiffness and discomfort that plague anyone who spends long hours at a desk.
Posture monitoring apps
There’s an app for everything (well, almost!), and posture tracking is no exception. We found at least ten smart apps that claim to monitor posture and alert users when they slouch or hunch over, so they can take corrective action before bad posture leads to back pain or other problems:
- Smartposture. This application is designed to promote healthy posture by preventing "text neck" and helping users develop an appropriate posture.
- SitApp. This desktop application uses AI to monitor posture and remind users to sit up straight when they slouch. The device detects their seating position and vibrates gently when it detects hunching or slouching, reminding you to correct your posture.
- Nekoze. This posture app is named after a Japanese word used to describe someone with a rounded back. The highly sensitive app displays a small cartoon cat that meows at the user when they slouch.
- MacBreakZ. This is another desktop posture application that goes beyond just monitoring posture and helps users analyze their workstation setup for better ergonomics.
- Posture Pal. This is a free app that uses the motion sensors in AirPods to detect and improve the wearer's posture and prompt users to correct poor postures like slouching or hunching over their phone or computer.
Smart clothing items
The AlignMed smart posture-correcting shirt is a garment known as a NeuroBand. This exoskeletal apparel blends a mixture of bands, panels, and seams. The technology, developed by experienced physicians and sports scientists, aims to offer “wearable therapy” that can retrain muscles and improve muscle tone. The company plans to deliver a positive effect on posture and to help reduce pain.
Other manufacturers make tracking shirts embedded with sensors to monitor the wearer’s posture and provide feedback on their spinal alignment. Some models include an app that offers personalized training programs to help improve posture.
Use corrective tools alongside therapy
Smart posture correction devices can be a helpful tool for improving posture, but it's critical to note that they should be used in conjunction with other therapies. Regular exercise and conscious efforts to maintain good posture throughout the day can complement these devices. Still, it’s essential to remember these aren’t likely to be miracle cures for challenging conditions like scoliosis.
It's also vital to consult with a healthcare professional
before using any corrective devices, particularly if you have a medical
condition that affects your posture.
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