Rounded shoulder posture (RSP) or slouching forwards is a common habit for office workers and those who use computers on a regular basis. These poor posture behaviours have also been associated with tension and pain in the neck and shoulders (Nejati et al). Posture supports, braces, or posture “correctors” are products designed to encourage better posture in the upper back, neck and shoulders by pulling back the shoulders and either improve posture or at least relieve the pain caused by poor posture.
But do posture correctors work?
Posture supports for pain relief
There are a few studies that suggest posture correctors can help to relieve the pain that is a result of poor posture.
For example a small study into office workers by Bankhele et al found that wearing a posture support for two weeks led to a reduction in neck pain (Bankhele et al).
Improving your rounded shoulder posture (RSP)
So posture correctors may help to relieve pain, but do they also help to improve posture?
There are multiple answers to this question:
- Yes they improve your posture when you are wearing the support.
- Yes, when combined with certain exercises or stretches you can improve your posture depending on your specific case.
- But, it seems unlikely that only wearing a posture support with no stretches or exercises will lead to improved posture down the line (when not wearing it)
One study found that wearing a posture brace and also doing exercises to stretch the pectoralis minor muscle helped with rounded shoulders (Lee et al).
It seems that posture supports can help to improve your posture when combined with additional exercises and stretches.
Osteopath Tim Everett suggests that posture correctors can help by helping to “retrain the muscles, ligaments and tendons… by providing a feedback mechanism they help improve muscle memory to establish a more natural and efficient spinal alignment” (Posture Braces).
So it seems like the best option is to use a posture corrector to relieve pain and stress while you work, but also to start stretching and exercising to really tackle your rounded shoulder posture.
Stretches to improve posture
Research has shown that stretching muscles that become tight when working at a desk can help to improve rounded shoulders.
The following video shows how to stretch your pectoral muscles. For those who have a rounded shoulder posture, it can be the result of your chest and pectorals becoming very tight and pulling your shoulders forward. So stretching these muscles will alleviate this tightness and give your back and shoulder muscles a chance to correct your slouch.
Exercises to improve posture
Posture correctors can help you while your sitting at your computer, but to really deal with the underlying causes of slouching or pain then you should get up from your desk and do some simple exercises.
As well as stretching to loosen up your tight chest and pectorals, you can exercise to strengthen your back, shoulders, neck, and so on.
Warning: Some of these exercises may be more than what you are used to and could lead to a sprain or injury if you try to do too much too quickly. Test them out very carefully and slowly and avoid any that feel uncomfortable or painful until you have spent a few days or weeks getting used to this type of exercise and stretching routine.
Tip: If you don’t like any of the stretches or exercises just skip them and create a routine that works for you. Doing any form of routine is better than nothing, even if it is just one stretch that becomes a new habit.
The 60 seconds daily routine for posture
The following video (skip to about 1 minute 45) shows some basic exercises with no equipment for a 60-second routine.
The 10 minute posture routine
This is a 10 minute daily routine. You can use a broom handle if you don’t have a pole. Write down the routine on a piece of paper and spend 10 minutes every day doing the exercises.