The different types of posture support include items like spinal braces, posture bras and bands, ergonomic chairs, or supportive mattresses and pillows for sleeping at night. Each of these are intended to correct habitual postural movements, such as rolling the shoulders forward and bending the head when sitting at a computer desk; they will not correct actual spinal deformities. Other types of posture support might include exercise to increase the strength and flexibility of the muscles in the abdominals, shoulders, and back so that when the support devices are removed, one still has good posture.
Spinal support braces are commonly used by people who have very poor posture and need posture support. These differ from the orthotics prescribed by a doctor, which are typically made of hard plastic and designed to prevent all movement in the spine. Postural support braces are typically soft, made of nylon straps, and are worn over the shoulders. They press into the middle of the back in the thoracic spine, pulling the shoulders back and straightening the upper spine and neck while opening a rounded chest.
Posture bras and bands follow a similar principle. Some people wear support bands around their lower back, or lumbar spine, to prevent a swayback posture, and to provide additional support when lifting heavy items. Studies have shown that these lower back supports do not do much to prevent injury when doing heavy lifting, but many people persist in wearing them anyway.
Ergonomic desk chairs can also help to offer posture support when sitting at a desk all day. Exercise ball chairs are a popular type of ergonomic desk chair. These chairs help to activate the muscles of the abdomen and lower back, preventing slumping in the chair and helping to strengthen muscles throughout the body. Maintaining good posture while sitting all day, as well as getting up to stretch or take a quick walk, is important to prevent back pain.
A supportive mattress and pillow is helpful for posture support as well. It was long believed that a firm mattress was best for the back, but this has been disproved; a medium to soft mattress with good support is a better choice. It is also important to use a pillow that supports the neck, and to place a pillow between the knees. The idea is to keep the spine in a neutral, healthy shape throughout the night, trying to maintain the same shape that it has when one is standing with good posture.