How’s your posture right now? Given how much time many of us spend hunched over a screen, poor posture has become somewhat of an epidemic, which is causing a host of chronic health concerns, according to Kompal Parmar, M.D., a board-certified physician in Lubbock, Texas. “We are seeing it a lot more, especially in younger populations because of the use of cell phones and iPads and computers,” Parmar says. “Without the right awareness while we are using these tools, we are looking at alignment issues with our spines down the road.” Studies show that poor posture can cause a range of chronic health issues including neck and back pain, joint damage, migraines, poor digestion and even respiratory issues.
Posture correctors — devices which remind users to sit up straight either by physically restraining your back and shoulders or by digitally reminding you to check your alignment — offer a solution to the problem. But do they really work? We asked experts, including a physician, physical therapist, and athletic trainer to break down the pros and pitfalls of posture correctors and to share their personal picks.
How we picked the best posture correctors
For posture correctors to be effective, all of the experts we spoke to stressed the importance of using them as a tool to help train your body — not a crutch that will do the work for you. They are a good reminder to use along with regular exercise to strengthen the core and back muscles, says Noam Tamir, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and founder of TS Fitness in New York City. “Otherwise it’s just a temporary solution.”
For the best results, the experts we spoke to recommended considering the following:
- Digital versus physical posture correctors. There are two main types of posture correctors, those that use digital sensors to remind you to sit up straight and those that physically help pull your shoulders back into alignment. Both can be effective, and what’s best largely comes down to personal preference, says Dr. Parmar.
- Comfort. To get the most out of a posture corrector, digital or physical, you have to want to use it regularly. All the experts we spoke with recommend looking for a version that’s easy to put on and comfortable to wear. That may mean trying more than one version until you find the right fit for your body.
The best posture correctors of 2023
The best posture corrector for your body should be comfortable and never cause pain. For example, “a tight fitting sports bra might actually go the other way and cause neck pain,” says Vinita Chandra Mody, MScPT, is a physical therapist and founder of Stroma Physical Therapy in New York. “It’s about finding the balance.” Every option on our list below comes directly recommended by one of our experts. We included both digital and physical corrector options.
All three experts we spoke to recommended the Upright Go 2. As a best-in-class digital posture corrector, the Upright Go has two built-in movement sensors that alert you to slouching with a gentle vibration and a connected app that lets you track your progress. It’s simple to use, which is important, according to Tamir. To further accommodate for personal preference, there are two ways to wear it: attach the sensor to the base of your neck via hypoallergenic adhesives or, for those who find the stickers bothersome, there’s also a necklace attachment you can purchase separately.
People with large chests can face additional posture challenges, says Mody. “Taking up the weight of the breast [with a good sports bra] can improve your thoracic spine positioning,” she says. Forme’s Power Bra was designed by an orthopedic surgeon, and is designed for daytime or overnight use, according to the brand. It’s available in sizes XS to 3XL.
If you’re looking for a posture support bra that’s less restrictive, Mody also likes the Etalon Posture Bra. The adjustable array of straps lets you customize the support — looser straps will offer more gentle posture correction, while tightening the straps can help you sit straighter as your posture improves. The bra is 21% spandex and also available in sizes XS to 3XL, according to the brand.
For those with mobility issues, Parmar recommends the Hempvana Arrow Posture Corrector. “It’s made from hemp fiber so it’s very light,” she says. More importantly, the vest-style design makes it easy to put on and take off, which is ideal for older patients or those with a limited range of motion in their shoulders and upper back, she says.
For a budget-friendly pick, Tamir recommends the Hallway Stories Back Brace Posture Corrector. It’s one of the simplest designs on the market — two adjustable straps slide over your shoulders like a backpack before you tighten them via easy to reach straps in the front. Tamir especially likes the price point for those who might not be used to wearing a posture corrector. “Start with an affordable one and see if you can be consistent with it,” he says.
Parmar likes the Berlin and Daughter Women’s Posture Corrector for its soft straps. It comes in a standard range of sizes (from XS to XXL). You can wear it while working out as well as under clothing, though the brand recommends wearing it over a thin undershirt for comfort.
How to shop for posture correctors
According to the experts we spoke to, the best posture corrector is the one that you will use regularly as part of a healthy exercise routine. Because everybody is different, there is no one-size-fits all brace or app that will work for everyone. To find your best fit, consider the following:
- Comfort and ease of use. A posture corrector should never be so tight that it causes pain. While many are designed for all-day wear, Mody says you might more realistically aim to wear one for a half an hour at a time every couple of hours to help remind you to activate the muscles that help you sit straight and tall. If you aren’t wearing the device all day, it’s especially important for a posture corrector to be easy to put on and take off.
- Style. Consistency is key when it comes to posture correctors. If you’re worried about aesthetics, a posture correcting bra or brace that is designed to go under your clothes might be the best fit.
- Adoptability. While all the experts we spoke with like the idea of a digital reminder to correct your posture, consider your track record with similar fitness devices and apps. If your new fitness tracker inevitably winds up in a drawer after a few weeks, a simple physical brace you can slip on with your clothes might better fit your lifestyle. Conversely, if you love to track your health data in an app, you might find a digital sensor more engaging.
Why is good posture important?
Poor posture can cause problems beyond back pain. “Your spine is the anchor point of the body; when it’s impacted, that has ramifications apart from the obvious back pain and neck pain,” says Mody. Improper alignment of the neck can lead to jaw tension, which can cause headaches and affect sleep, she says. Posture can also impact your lungs and digestive system since those organs get squished when you slouch.
Slouching also makes you more prone to injury, says Tamir. “When you’re lifting things, you have an increased chance of injuring yourself [when you have poor posture],” he says. For example, “when you are lifting up your arm to grab something, because of the positioning of your shoulders when you slouch, you’re increasing the chance for there to be a shoulder impingement.”
How do posture correctors work?
Posture correctors can be grouped into two main categories that describe their function:
- Physical supports: Physical posture correctors come in various forms — including sports bras and gender-neutral brace-type devices — but they mostly work by pulling your shoulder muscles back, according to Parmar.
- Digital sensors: Rather than physically manipulate your posture, digital posture correctors use sensors to track your movement and remind you to sit up straight. “That helps to slowly retrain the right muscles to help us keep proper posture,” says Parmar.
Ultimately, each type of posture corrector has the same goal, which is “to activate muscles so that you’re sitting up straight to align the spine,” says Mody.
Think of each as a biofeedback tool that’s meant to help you learn to correct your posture on your own. “The whole point of biofeedback is to eventually ditch the external device,” says Mody. The most important phase is the transferring of that learning into a self-sustaining effect so that you no longer need that crutch.”
Are posture correctors effective?
If used correctly, both types of posture correctors can be effective. Ideally, a posture corrector shouldn’t be doing the work for you, but rather retraining your muscles to maintain proper posture on their own, according to our experts. “What they’re all trying to do is change how you behave,” says Mody. When you chronically slouch, she explains, “the background program that’s running in your brain starts to say, this is a fine position to be in because this is the position that you’re staying in as you’re sitting at your desk.” A posture corrector helps remind your brain to activate the muscles that support proper posture.
For a posture corrector to be effective, you need to use it as part of an exercise routine, — not as a replacement for one, according to our experts. “It’s about creating good habits,” says Dr. Parmar.
Are posture correctors safe?
Posture correctors are perfectly safe, according to our experts. If there’s any risk in using one, it might be in getting one on, which can be an issue for some with mobility issues — especially in the neck and shoulders. In that case, our experts recommend finding an option that you slip on and and then tighten, or opting for a digital posture corrector, instead.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Vinita Chandra Mody, MScPT, is a physical therapist and founder of Stroma Physical Therapy in New York. She has nearly two decades of experience as a physical therapist analyzing and adjusting movement patterns and specializes in sports rehabilitation, concussion, pediatrics and women’s health.
- Noam Tamir, CSCS, is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, FRC mobility specialist, and a pre- and post-natal certified trainer. He is the founder of TS Fitness in New York City.
- Kompal Parmar, M.D., is a board-certified primary care physician in Lubbock, Texas.
Why trust Select?
Macaela MacKenzie is a journalist and former Glamour editor who has covered beauty and wellness treatments for over a decade. For this article, MacKenzie spoke to experts including a certified trainer, physical therapist and physician about the importance of good posture and the role posture correctors can play in overall health and fitness.