Patients, friends and family constantly ask us what the BEST back brace is to improve posture. There’s always someone coming out with the newest brace or device to wear to help you sit properly and we’ve researched them all, thoroughly. So, what’s our answer to the best brace for posture….drumroll please….NO BRACE AT ALL!
That’s right! You read that correctly! Dr. Josh and I both firmly believe that back braces do more harm than good. Let me explain…
Why is going brace-LESS, the best thing for your posture?
I’m sure you’re wondering why, right?!
Before I explain why we don’t advocate our patient’s wearing posture correction back braces, I do want to note that this is not applicable to someone with a flare up (or what we call an acute condition), as in these times braces are needed for short-term usage (1-2 weeks for stability).
Our answer to why we don’t advocate any posture brace at all is because, while posture braces may hold your body and muscles in the correct place, they’re completely doing all the work. Meaning that these braces ‘help’ TOO much, causing your muscles to get weaker because you aren’t using them anymore. This is similar to an arm sling, crutch or neck brace.
If you have poor posture, what your muscles truly need is STRETCHING and STRENGTHENING. I know buying a $50 back brace and strapping it on every day is SO much easier than actually being disciplined to stretch and exercise, but it’s your health and it’s TOTALLY worth the extra effort.
So, what kinds of exercises and stretches are good for posture then?
I’m sure you’re next question is ‘What do we recommend for stretching and strengthening, then’? If you don’t have any pain and have been cleared by your doctor, yoga and pilates are the BEST! Not only because they’re good for your posture, but because they are low impact and good for your balance and your mind as well! I recommend trying both to see which better suits you (I’m personally a yoga lover) and doing them at least 2-3+ times per week.
What if pilates and yoga aren’t your thing? How else can you improve posture?
Maybe pilates and yoga aren’t your cup of tea? That’s totally ok! Exercise should be fun and something you enjoy. You’re never going to stay committed to exercise if you dread going and hate it, so find something you love to do and stick with it! Luckily, there are many other ways of strengthening and stretching your spinal muscles besides yoga and pilates.
Row Row Row your boat! Seriously, though, rowing is absolutely FANTASTIC for both cardio and back muscle strengthening, and it’s completely underrated. Try to add it into your routine 2-3 times per week. Everyone is different when it comes to their cardiovascular stamina and exercise routine, but I generally recommend 15+ minutes per session, if you’re able.
TRX Bands are amazing because you can use them at home or at the gym and they provide a total body workout. Back rows using TRX Bands is a great way to strengthen those muscles. I recommend doing 3 sets of back rows, minimum 12 reps each, 2-3X per week.
You can totally go traditional, old school and hit the weight room, if that is your thing! There are always countless amounts of machines for back work, as well as free weights. Try rhomboid rows, lat pull downs, pull ups, and dumbbell rows, just to name a few!
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Want more information about something else? We’re always open to suggestions!
Thanks so much for reading! Here’s to better posture and better health!
Dr. Nichole 🙂