When it comes to keeping your body healthy, the first things you may think about are your diet and exercise habits. While those are two vital parts that contribute to your wellbeing, many other factors are often overlooked, including your posture.
Good posture is tough to define, but it often includes the correct alignment of bones and joints while sitting, standing and lying down. This ensures your muscles are being used properly.
Bad posture can affect your overall health and lead to chronic pain. Poor movement patterns generate both physical and mental stress, like indigestion, neck and back discomfort, headaches, an increased risk of heart disease, and fatigue. It’s important to pay attention to how you move and position your body.
The benefits of practicing good posture are undeniable. It engages your core, increases energy, relieves pain and improves your appearance. Because of this, there are many items out on the market claiming they can help you improve your posture.
We decided to put one new gadget to the test. The Upright Go is a Bluetooth device you attach to your back. It’s designed to improve and track posture by vibrating to alert you when you slouch. Shannon Robinson, physical therapist with Anne Arundel Medical Group (AAMG) Physical Therapy, tried it out for a day to see what she thought.
To first get started with Upright Go, you download the free app and sync the device to your phone. You then attach a small, white device to your upper back via an adhesive sticker. When in ‘Training Mode,’ the device will vibrate on your back to alert you when you slouch. Their website recommends training daily in order to form a better posture habit.
After each daily training session, you can switch to ‘Tracking Mode’ to continue monitoring your posture throughout the day.
“I could feel myself having to use all back muscles to sit up tall with my shoulder blades pinched and eventually my muscles would feel fatigued, telling me that they were really working,” Shannon says. “Using the app, you can see all your posture statistics, goals, and how you have improved over time.”
Shannon felt the device worked well with activities that require an erect trunk posture such as sitting, standing and walking. However, “it was very sensitive and required me to actively pinch my shoulder blades and retract my neck to an uncomfortably extreme position,” she describes. “I found the device to be inappropriate to wear with activities that require a lot of movement such as bending forward to treat patients.”
The device may work for those who have desk jobs, Shannon says, and it does tend to be useful to track your progress. The vibration is also adjustable. “But, overall, I wouldn’t recommend it.”
The best way to improve posture, instead, is good, old-fashioned physical therapy focused on postural strengthening. Exercise and stretching can improve your posture because it helps increase your circulation and range of motion. “They are the most effective and realistic ways to improve back support. Lumbar cushions are a good tactile cue, but exercise is best.”