One Small Change
Better Posture with…Duct Tape?
Here’s an enlightening way to kill some time over the holidays and make even those interminable gatherings with the in-laws more tolerable and productive. Find a roll of duct tape and take off your shirt. While standing as straight and upright as possible, have a friend apply a strip of tape down your spine—from just above the vertebrae at the base of the neck to your lower back. Then apply two other pieces of tape from the top of each shoulder to the middle of your back. When finished, it should look like you’re wearing an upside-down peace sign.
Now put your shirt back on and go about your day—working at the computer, driving your car, finishing up your Christmas shopping, or mingling at a holiday party. Every time you start to hunch or slouch, the tug of the tape on your skin will remind you to stand taller or sit straighter while gently pulling you back into alignment. (Note: If you have a hairy back, this “gentle pull” will be more of an “agonizing rip,” which is even more effective.)
“If an athlete’s posture is really bad, I’ll tape him,” says Sue Falsone, PT, CSCS, the director of performance physical therapy for Athletes’ Performance. “Sometimes the tape ends up coming off in less than 30 minutes because they slouch so much. It’s a great way to become more aware of your posture. The goal is to go through the day without ever feeling the tape on your skin.” And it works. I taped myself for a morning and found it even reminded me to squat and lift with my knees rather than bending over and risking my low back. (However, when it came time to remove the tape, my wife ripped it off way too fast. Now I have a giant red peace sign on my back, which has been producing some double takes at the pool.)
The Internet is rife with Rube Goldberg inventions that promise to promote better posture and all its subsequent advantages in far stranger ways than duct-taping yourself. I spent some time perusing the market and found three products that—although I haven’t tried—looked promising enough to call your attention to:
Adidas claims that its line of compression-wear “improves posture and increases power and endurance…by actively supporting your muscles and focusing their energy.” Falsone says she’s used the shirts to increase posture awareness, and “athletes tell me they put them in a good position.” Here’s a video of Core Performance founder Mark Verstegen explaining how it works.
The $75 iPosture is a one-inch-diameter disk that’s worn on your upper body, either clipped to clothing or stuck to the skin. Once adjusted to your optimal sitting or standing position, it will vibrate when you slouch or hunch for longer than 60 seconds, which supposedly helps you learn better posture over time.
Developed by an orthopedic surgeon, this $120 T-shirt (or bra) features a side pocket that holds a small posture-sensing disk. After calibrating it to your desired alignment, it’ll vibrate whenever your body angle needs adjusting.
Although neither Falsone nor I have personally used the last two products, she says that continuing feedback—whether from an electronic sensor, compression fabric, or simple duct tape—is the key to correcting bad posture for good. And as we’ve discussed in previous blogs, better body alignment is the secret weapon for enhanced performance and injury aversion. So give it a try. All you have to lose is some skin.
About The Author
Joe Kita – Joe Kita is a noted writer, editor, motivational speaker and teacher. He authors the blog "One Small Change" for CorePerformance.com.