With all the joys and convenience of modern life, there are some pitfalls. The biggest is the amount of time we spend sitting, often at a desk for work or in the driver’s seat as we commute. Fitness trackers have helped address some of the issues that come from a sedentary lifestyle, but now they’re also targeting another area many people need help with. Posture wearables and trackers help combat the bad habit of slouching that can lead to back pain and other health issues over time. They help remind you to sit up straight, kind of like your mother whispering in your ear “sit up straight!” all day.
The poster trackers currently available on the market come in a variety of styles, from discreet wearables to technology that looks like it’s from the future. Depending on your specific needs, there is a posture sensor on the market to help you improve your posture, appearance, and overall health. In this article we’ve broken down the most popular posture coaches on the market so you can find the one that’s right for you. These include a variety of posture wearables and even a coach that you just sit on.
Posture Wearables & Coaches
Lumo Lift Posture Coach and Activity Tracker
The Lumo Lift is one of the most popular and well known of the posture wearables on the market currently. The tracker is a sensor that is worn using a magnetic clip on your shirt near your collar bone. It can be worn on an undershirt or jacket that is snug to your body and the tracker is very discreet. When you put it on you’ll set your Target Posture and the sensor uses angle displacement to know when you’re slouching. Using the free Lumo Lift app, you’ll program how often you want to be alert of bad posture and it will vibrate to remind you to sit up straight. In addition to these reminders, the posture tracker app also displays stats of your progress and improvement of your posture over time.
In addition to the posture training, the Lumo Lift also features basic activity tracking that’s common in most wearables. As long as you’re not looking for a robust or activity specific tracker (like those for running or swimming), the Lumo Lift is a great option to replace your regular step-counter or activity tracker. In addition to the posture tracking, the app also displays steps taken, distance walked, and calories burned. We think, in considering all the posture wearables on the market currently, that the Lumo Lift is the best choice for people who work office jobs but also live an active lifestyle.
One of the downsides to the Lumo Lift posture trainer is that it does require a little tech savvy to use and set up (it is not ready to go out of the box). The manufacturer recommends reading through the instruction manual before you use, as you need to set your Target Posture frequently (and every time you put the Lumo Lift on). Most people who regularly use smartphones and other trackers and tech devices should be OK, but this may not be a good option for a parent or grandparent who needs help setting up and using new devices.
Available colors: Silver or Black Clasp (comes with both)
Good for: improving your posture while tracking activity
Tracks: sitting and standing posture, steps, distance, calories burned
Notable features: Discreet magnetic clip tracker, free Lumo Lift app for iOS and Android, USB charging dock, posture coaching, pedometer, real-time feedback
ALEX N5 Posture Tracker & Coach
If you’re not looking for a discreet posture wearable, the Alex N5 may be a device you want to consider. It looks like a device out of the future, but this technology is real and ready to help you improve and correct poor posture. It is worn on the back of the neck, with two hooks that go over each ear to hold it in place. To track your posture it measures the angle of the neck and if it moves into a poor posture angle the tracker vibrates to remind you to sit up straight. The free Alex app tracks your progress over time and helps you improve. You can also use it to customize settings for how often you’d like alerts.
Alex is only meant to be worn during your inactive time, like while sitting at work. While it works in sitting and standing positions, you won’t get any extra tracking benefits while exercising or running errands. This posture sensor is a great choice for people who are just looking to improve their posture at specific times and are not interested in any other tracking features. Since it does not have any activity tracking built in, you would need a separate device to count steps or other exercise.
Some reviewers have noted that while the Alex N5 is great a detecting neck bend, it may not detect when your shoulders and upper body slouch forward. You may want to evaluate the way your body slouches when trying to decide between the Alex and other posture wearables that attach to the upper body (like the Lumo Lift).
Available colors: black only
Good for: for tracking posture while sitting at a desk
Tracks: sitting and standing posture
Notable features: customizable vibrating posture reminders, pivot sensor and 3 axis accelerometer, light weight and adjustable for a comfortable fit, Bluetooth 4.0 syncing, free coaching app for iOS or Android, 70 hour battery life
Upright Pro Smart Wearable Posture Trainer
The Upright Posture Trainer is different from other trackers because it attaches directly to your body. This posture sensor attaches to your lower back and uses an accelerometer and multi-sensors to measure when you’re slouching. It gives a gentle buzz to remind you to sit up straight (and the vibrations are completely silent). It’s discreet since you’ll wear it under your clothes, so your co-workers will have no idea you’re posture training during an afternoon meeting.
Upright, like all posture wearables, comes with its own app for tracking your posture improvement over time and in the moment. The claim the manufacturers make is that instead of wearing it all day long, you can actually just wear it for 15 to 60 minutes a day. The core strength and muscle memory you build in that time should be enough to build a habit of good posture, but we’re a bit too skeptical to believe that claim. It seems like the manufacturers are advertising it more like a “quick fix” than a long term tracker.
There are some downsides to the Upright. Since it sticks to your skin, you have to use adhesive strips to attach it. The device comes with 60 strips in the box, but over time you will have to buy more. That also makes it less convenient to wear than posture wearables like the Lumo or the Alex N5, which are easy to slip on in public places like the office. The Upright is also more of a coach and trainer than a tracker. It may take longer for you to get results if you’re only wearing it for a limited amount of time daily.
Update: They’ve now released a new model called Upright Go, which costs less and can be worn all day for constant training and faster posture improvement. Check it out.
Available colors: white only
Good for: discreet posture coaching for only an hour a day
Notable features: use for 15-60 minutes a day, poor posture buzz reminders, USB charging docking station, free iOS and Android app, made of medical grade silicone
Darma Pro Comfort Cushion Posture Coach
Posture wearables aren’t for everyone. If you’re looking for a posture coach you don’t have to wear, then you’re in luck. Darma is a smart cushion that you can place on any chair. In addition to cushioning your bottom, it has a lot of interesting technology packed into it. It not only tracks your postures and knows if you’re slouching or leaning off center, it can also track and provide real time data on your heart rate and breathing. The Darma then uses this information to measure your stress levels and makes suggestions to meditate or take a break to reduce your stress.
As far as posture coaching goes, when the built-in sensor detects that you’re sitting poorly, it sends an alert to your phone reminding you to sit up straight. The Darma app also gives you the ability to build custom modes and reminders, so it can tell you to take a break every hour to get up and stretch. The app can even give you a stretching guide. Instead of being an “activity tracker,” Darma works more as a sedentary tracker, recording how long you spend sitting and helping encourage you to be more active in addition to improving your posture.
This product is really great for office workers who sit at a desk all day and want automatic tracking that they don’t need to set up or put on frequently. You do have the trade out the ability to track and improve your standing posture. Also, while the Darma cushion tracks how much time you spend sitting, it does not feature any other types of activity tracking, so you may need a separate fitness tracker if you want info on calories burned or steps taken.
Available colors: black only
Good for: office workers who don’t like wearing trackers or other devices
Tracks: posture, heart rate, respiratory rate, sitting time, stress level
Notable features: patented fiber optic sensors, made of foam padding and premium artificial leather covering, 15 day battery life, Darma iOS and Android App, Poor Posture alerts, stretching guide
Why Should I Worry About My Posture?
You may think having perfect posture doesn’t matter. But poor posture does more than just affect your physical appearance. It can cause serious health problems in different areas of your body.
First, what exactly is good posture? When you stand or sit with proper posture it means your bones and muscles are properly aligned. Your body is moving and resting as it is designed to work, meanings that muscles, joints, and ligaments are being used as nature intended. Since the structure of your body is properly aligned, that means your internal organs are also in their correct positions so they can work efficiently.
When you slouch or otherwise have poor posture, your muscles are straining to hold your body in unnatural ways. Your internal organs may be compressed, which can lead to digestion issues. This can lead to issues with neck and back pain and over your lifetime it may become painful to sit for long periods of time. You may also have issues with fatigue as your muscles are working overtime to hold your body up, meaning you’re wasting energy just trying to move through your day. Poor posture can also contribute to arthritis and other joint issues as you age, from the wear and tear of your joints not working as effectively as they could be with proper alignment.
Unfortunately, as people who tend to spend a lot of their day sitting at a desk, on a couch watching TV or playing video games, or while driving around, our bodies tend to hunch forward and curl inward. Without actively being aware of poor posture and working to maintain good posture while sitting and standing, you will probably slump and enforce poor posture habits.
Fortunately, it’s never too late to improve your posture and sit up straight. Posture wearables and posture reminder apps are a great way to help train yourself to sit up straight throughout the day. There are also many other ways to improve and maintain proper bone and muscle alignment.
Ways to Improve and Maintain Good Posture
- Keep your weight down and exercise regularly. Extra weight around your midsection can pull on your back and make you slouch. By exercising regularly you keep your body flexible and strengthen your muscles, which helps to support good posture. Try gentle yoga poses to promote good posture.
- Examine the way you work. If you sit at a desk all day, look at the way your work station is set up. Is your chair a proper height? Does it provide enough support for your back? Is your computer monitor at a comfortable reading level? Can you read things on your monitor without leaning forward? Do you need to make any adjustments? UCLA has a great guide to set up an ergonomic workstation that helps promote proper posture while working.
- Get up and move frequently when sitting for more than an hour at a time. This allows you to stretch your muscles and work out any stiffness in your body. When you sit down again, it’s a great time to check it and adjust the way you’re sitting. Setting a reminder on your phone or using a fitness tracker with move reminders is a great way to remember to take these small breaks.
- Use a back posture tracker or wearable to alert you throughout the day when your body starts to slump. This will help train you to sit properly. Consider posture wearables, like the Lumo Lift, which you can wear all day and get constant feedback to build better sitting and standing habits.
- If you’re really having trouble breaking the habit, consider seeing an occupational therapist or chiropractor to help you do exercises to improve your posture. Yoga is also a great way to help improve your posture and flexibility.