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I'm starting to get worried about my posture working at my desk. I'm not conscientious enough to make this happen myself though - I just don't remember to keep good posture. I'm looking into buying a simple back/shoulder brace. Here is one that I've found that seems OK: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005H3NKYI/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=ucmbread-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005H3NKYI

My question is: are there any recommendations for solving this problem? I'm looking for something that, if worn, I can wear without it being noticeable, and comfortable to wear for long periods of time (like an entire work day.) I'm open to other suggestions too - I know very little about ergonomics :)

asked Jan 09 '12 at 19:26

diurnalist's gravatar image

diurnalist
51

How do you know you have bad posture? Is it causing symptoms like back pain or RSI? If you feeling comfortable and can work without any pain or strain, I would argue you don't have to subscribe to someone else's idea of good posture. Assuming you work with a computer the best devices for good posture is an ergonomic chair, a desk/chair that is height adjusted so that you can sit right at the edge of the desk and rest your forearm flat on the desk surface and a keyboard right where you can rest your palms on. The chair that works really well for me is the Steelcase Think.

2 years, 10 months ago
Wing's gravatar image Wing

Thank you everyone for the thoughtful responses!

@Wing: I don't know if my posture is notably bad, because I've never been evaluated by a specialist. Both parents have at times through my youth told me to stop slouching; I think it's fair to say that I slouch, and my 'comfort' position at my desk involves shifting my weight off-kilter and also slouching forward a bit. Just feel like it's probably not a good habit to have!

Sometimes when I sit for a while I feel the need to crack my back, like there's "pressure" building up. Could be psychological though. Don't really have much to go on.

2 years, 10 months ago
diurnalist's gravatar image diurnalist

12next page »

As a physical therapist, I recommend that you go see a physical therapist for a postural evaluation, training in how to set up your work station (including the right chair) so it is ergonomically suitable for YOU, and for teaching you exercises to strengthen your postural muscles, which include more than just your abdominals and core muscles. Each person is different. Each human body is different. I caution you to take blanket advice about this online. In 2-3 sessions with a P.T. you will be very knowledgable on how to correct your posture and prevent this from getting worse. I don't recommend a brace...especially advise against wearing a brace for a prolonged period of time....it might correct your posture while you have it on but it creates muscle disuse atrophy in your postural muscles...and you will be MUCH worse off in the long run as a result.

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answered Jan 14 '12 at 16:50

Beth%20M's gravatar image

Beth M
71

Speaking first as a patient of a physical therapist, and secondly as an RN, I agree with Beth. I started going to a p.t. a month or so ago because I woke up "one day" with a pain in my neck that didn't go away. After just a few sessions with a p.t. and a p.t.a. (assistant), I'm feeling a lot better, and the exercises are making a huge difference.

2 years, 10 months ago
jcjewell's gravatar image jcjewell

It sounds like this is the most measured response to this problem that doesn't involve moving back in with the parents ;)

Thanks to everyone who remarked about the potential fallacies of posture-supportive devices and pointing me towards a more 'fix the source, not the symptoms' solution.

2 years, 10 months ago
diurnalist's gravatar image diurnalist

The Alexander Technique was invented for this very reason.

And as LG above said, it's a slow solution to a problem that took you a long time to have.

Google it and find an instructor. You'll notice the difference in two hours. Worked for me!

Seth

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answered Jan 14 '12 at 09:52

sethgodin's gravatar image

sethgodin
31

Live with your mother!!!

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answered Jan 14 '12 at 13:15

Barry's gravatar image

Barry
31

Pilates, Alexander Technique, Yoga, etc. can all be quite helpful. PT sessions can be good, but you must treat PT as a partnership/participatory activity instead of something done to you. I'm sure Bob Anderson's book is good, and I like Pete Egoscue's "Pain Free" books.

You did nail one thing: the critical step is awareness. Moshe Feldenkrais figured this out about 50 years ago; he developed Awareness Through Movement lessons. I love the Feldenkrais ATM classes: each hour-long session plays like a little science project.

I'm also quite fond of Eric Franklin's work and books. Franklin has created some of the best exercises plus imagery anywhere to restore our bodies to a state of fluidity/grace/pain-free. There is a huge linguistic component to healthy posture and movement; Franklin has done the best of modern instructors to address the linguistic component of body/mind work. @FranklinMethod puts out some great tweets on this topic: follow him.

What's the right one? It depends. If you had a friend who you trusted who was an instructor of Body/Mind discipline XYZ, I would recommend doing that. The most important thing is what you bring to the table -- what you're willing to commit to do. And there's no rule you have to do only one body/mind discipline. Find what you love to do, and do it.

Structural Integration is a fantastic thing to do, but it's a serious investment and you shouldn't commit to the 10-session (some schools are 12-session) series unless you're ready. I really like SI, and I really like the individuals who have become SI practitioners. They seem to march to a different drummer than most body/mind workers.

Thomas Myers, who has his own SI school, wrote the fantastic essay "Spatial Medicine" (available here. In that essay, he describes a way of thinking about our health and what role "spatial medicine" plays in it. Some body/mind workers speak in a very "woo woo" fashion, but Myers speaks in a way that everyone -- including the geeks and engineers -- can understand and enjoy.

The poster "Dead Ernest" was dead right: no widget will fix what ails you. What will address your concerns is a comprehensive whole-system approach to your posture and movement: a new mindfulness to bring to your posture and movement. It's not a thing; it's a way to approach everything.

Finally, check out the essay The Great Unwinding by the late Dr. Marvin Solit. I don't agree with everything he says, but many of his words are tremendously satisfying to me. Marvin was a mathematician, an inventor of many cool toys and puzzles, and a body-mind worker. I consider myself quite lucky to have met him before he passed away.

I apologize for the large answer. You have asked a vast question. It looks like a simple question, but it is not. Nature builds in whole systems; profound changes to whole systems must themselves be systematic.

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answered Jan 15 '12 at 21:39

floatingbones's gravatar image

floatingbones
136

edited Jan 15 '12 at 21:41

I seem to recall a technique that was along the lines of a pen or stick you wore on/near your abdomen. The idea was that if you slouched, you felt the slouch in your stomach and corrected yourself by pain avoidance. A brace becomes a crutch you can never ditch. Slouching is really a deep abdominal muscle issue.

-C

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answered Jan 10 '12 at 16:23

Christopher's gravatar image

Christopher
375

Get a good chair and use your brain. Do self-checks and if you find that you're slouching, leaning or favoring one butt cheek over another, straighten up.

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answered Jan 14 '12 at 11:42

tadaa's gravatar image

tadaa
16

A 65-cm stability ball like this one:

http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/valeo/bodyball.html?MCID=CAMZ

instead of a desk chair.

You don't have to do a thing but sit on it.

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answered Jan 15 '12 at 11:21

bookofjoe's gravatar image

bookofjoe
61

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answered Oct 09 '12 at 11:00

Evidencebasedapparel's gravatar image

Evidencebasedapparel
16

I realize that you're looking for a quick and easy fix to a slow-developing but deep-seated problem, and I fear I don't have a simple device I can suggest. I did, however, find that Pilates exercises---classical Pilates, done in a well-equipped studio, with a well-trained instructor---made surprising differences. I had not realized how posture pervades everything: it's a full-body problem and (alas) requires strengthening the muscles and ligaments that pull our bones into place and learning how to control that. For home use, I can recommend Classical Pilates Series: The Complete Mat Workout Series, a $15 DVD that clearly shows the mat exercises for the Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced levels, but aso includes a "Pre-Basic" set to get up to speed.

By recognizing the problem you've taken an important step. Addressing the problem will, I fear, require more than purchasing a device. (YMMV)

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answered Jan 14 '12 at 09:44

LeisureGuy's gravatar image

LeisureGuy
1

As a physician of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation I also agree with Beth M. Her answer is the ideal solution. But if you are not willing and/or able to see a therapist at the very least her later point deserves a paragraph of its own.

You do not want a device to hold you in a better position - unless you simply want to appear to have good posture. Such a thing would further weaken the muscles you want doing the job.

However a device such as Christopher mentions; something that 'reminds' you to employ the muscles you should be using would not do any harm (as long as it is encouraging the right posture, and not causing too much damage as it does so ...which may or may not speak to the idea of living with your Mom).

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answered Jan 15 '12 at 03:04

Dead%20Ernest's gravatar image

Dead Ernest
1

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Asked: Jan 09 '12 at 19:26

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Last updated: Dec 11 '12 at 10:53

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