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A posture brace is a support garment which is designed to promote better posture. Such garments are intended to be used along with exercises and lifestyle changes to address concerns about poor positioning of the body when sitting or standing. Medical supply companies often sell posture support braces, and they are also available through clinics and doctors' offices. It is also possible to order custom braces which are fitted to the body of the wearer.
People commonly develop poor posture as a result of habits learned in the workplace. Even in a workplace which is designed ergonomically, people can develop habits such as leaning forward, slumping, or twisting the spine. Over time, this can lead to permanent changes in posture, as well as pain. A posture brace supports the spine while people retrain their muscles so that they sit and stand straight.
There are several different posture brace designs available which target various posture problem areas. A brace may center on the lower back or the shoulders, or cover both areas. The brace is attached with straps which may buckle or have Velcro® closures, and are adjustable so that the brace can be fitted snugly. While someone wears a posture brace, the brace will pull the spine straight, keep the shoulders back, and help tuck in the abdomen to help the wearer develop stronger abdominal muscles.
A brace alone would not be sufficient to improve posture. It is designed to reinforce posture improvement exercises to strengthen the muscles which provide support to the shoulders and spine. Such exercises can include stretches, along with yoga or pilates. A physical therapist or personal trainer can design a series of exercises which will be beneficial.
While wearing a posture support brace, it is also helpful to adjust the work environment to address issues which may be leading to bad posture. It may be necessary to change the heights of chairs, to use padding on seating, or to move a computer into a position which allows the user to sit more naturally and comfortably. An ergonomic consultant can provide assistance with these tasks and also provide tips for preventing injuries in the future.
Before embarking on the use of a corrective posture brace, it is advisable to see a doctor or physical therapist. A medical professional can provide advice on appropriate braces in addition to conducting an evaluation to look for signs of underlying medical issues which will not be resolved by a brace.