Posture braces seem to be on trend right now. There are a number of devices being advertised online at the moment, possibly partly related to the New Year health kick some people feel. But are these contraptions any good?

In case you haven’t seen them, a posture brace is an apparatus that you wear to hold you in a particular posture. They usually fit around your shoulders and upper body, and consist of a harness with some strapping.

The idea is that the harness physically stops you from being able to slouch.

Not being able to slouch sounds like a good thing, since it is common knowledge that slouching aggravates back and neck problems.

But before rushing out and buying a posture brace for every man, woman and child that you know, there are a few things to consider.

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First and foremost is that being held in a position by a brace means you are not using your postural muscles to do this job. Muscles, without use, will decondition and weaken.

Weak postural muscles are a significant contributor to pain but also joint degeneration, so anything that offloads them is undesirable.

Further, slouching doesn’t cause pain. Slouching for a long time causes pain. Similar to being frozen in any one position.

The key to avoiding posture-related pain is not to achieve an anatomically perfect posture, but to regularly change posture, and to move often. Braces do not facilitate this.

If you are struggling with pain at work or feel that your posture needs to improve, the best thing to do is to embark on a specific and challenging exercise regime to strengthen your postural muscles, and to do more general activity.