Posture aids (often called posture braces) are very common, temporary treatments for neck, shoulder, and back pain as well as neck, shoulder, and lower back injuries. Each affected or injured area has its own special brace designed to support it, and they’ve been used around the world for many, many years. But do they really work—and are they safe? What are the advantages and drawbacks of using such devices? Continue reading to learn more about the pros and cons of posture aids.
PRO: Posture aids offer some support for injured joints, giving relief to the wearer. However, they are best used as more of a reminder to straighten up—the posture aid should not be used to take the full weight of the wearer’s neck, shoulders, or back. Used correctly, posture aids can help the wearer feel less pain and attain more mobility.
CON: Posture aids are only temporary—they should not be used over extended periods of time. This kind of usage tends to weaken the muscles and may even cause further injury due to the aid supporting the bulk of the weight instead of the muscles, causing atrophy.
PRO: Posture aids are often low-cost. As far as treatments for neck, shoulder, and back injuries go, posture aids are relatively inexpensive. This is especially beneficial to those who may have to take time off of work due to their injuries. Braces can range anywhere from $20 to $300.
CON: Posture aids are not really a do-it-yourself solution—you shouldn’t simply go to the store and buy a brace. Posture aids should always be provided by a healthcare professional who should also adjust them and explain exactly how to use them properly. While it is much easier and potentially less expensive to do so, you may end up making your problem worse by buying the wrong type of brace or wearing it the wrong way. You should go see a doctor, chiropractor, or other physical therapist for an assessment, and they will recommend a brace that suits your body and type of injury as well as give you specific instructions on how to wear it.
PRO: There are many brands and types of posture aids to choose from. Again, take heed of your doctor’s recommendation, but you can also do your own research. Check reviews and read objective articles (not advertisements) to find out which brands are the most highly reviewed. There are many decisions to make, such as whether you’ll want thick or thin straps (thick straps that do not dig into your shoulders or back are often recommended), what type of material you prefer (opt for a material that allows your skin to breathe, especially if you are allergic to certain materials), and how much adjustability you’ll need (too much is better than not enough). Of course, the most important considerations are whether the brace will do its job and whether it’s comfortable for you to wear. Remember, you’ll need to wear your brace for a considerable amount of time, so don’t settle for one that doesn’t feel right to you.
CON: Posture aids cannot permanently fix your posture. While posture aids can help support your neck, shoulders, and back, they are not a cure for poor posture. Think of a posture aid as one tool in your toolbox for a pain-free neck, shoulder, or back—it is not a magical fix. It is important to take your posture problems seriously and use your posture aid correctly.
CON: You must stick to your posture aid schedule. In order for your posture aid to do its job, you must follow your doctor’s instructions on when and for how long to wear it. If you wear your brace for too long, you’ll be allowing your muscles to weaken and atrophy. Lastly, if you don’t wear it enough, you’ll be losing out on the benefits that posture aids offer—so simply follow the instructions faithfully.
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