“Sit up straight.”

We’ve all been given that command before, likely when we were young and our grandparents were trying to get us to behave properly. But then we all became adults, and we were given computers to work on and desks to sit at all day. After that, the demand for a straight back and slouched shoulders quieted, and most of us succumbed to the detriment of bad posture.

I’ve been working on my posture a lot lately. And by “lately,” I mean since 2020 started. And by “a lot,” I mean it’s come up a few times in the last couple of days. Fixing my poor stance has been on my to-do list for a while, but I’ve been putting it off because, frankly, I haven’t given a damn about it. But my neck pain returned in 2019 from too much time at my desk. I also began to notice my slouched disposition in photos. My collarbone was no where to be seen. Instead, everyone got a gratuitous shot of my shoulder blades and upper back. I decided it was time to work on sitting and standing upright.

Good posture is all the rage right now, or fixing bad posture is, at least. There are ads all over Instagram about tools to help our body positioning woes. Even news publications are in on the trend, sharing the “7 best tips to improve your posture” or the “13 best ways to save yourself from bad posture.” How can you not take the bait? I want to “improve.” I want to “save myself.”

The health claims are endless. Good posture can cure headaches and shortness of breath. Bad posture accelerates the formation of arthritis and disc disease, and it can compress the respiratory system, it can even affect your mood.

We get it. Good posture equals winning (pretty much in every category).

I started my quest to properly arrange my limbs by just trying to stand and sit straight, my neck pushed back to align with my shoulders, my core activated and my pelvic floor balanced. Easy, I thought to myself, but it only took about two minutes for me to forget about my stance and return to a slouched state. By the time I remembered, it was too late. I was focused on my work and promised I would attack the problem head on the next morning. This pattern continued for about a week before I decided I needed assistance.

I searched the internet to see what it thought. Turns out there are several tools available to help the slouchiest of us straighten out. There’s the Swedish Posture Balance Core Trainer, which, as far as I can tell, spins you around on a small spherical seat to help activate core muscles. Then there’s the Copper Compression Posture Corrector, which literally pushes your shoulders back using a small, fabric torture device. These just didn’t seem appealing. But then there was the Upright, a tiny white device you stick to the center of your upper back. Connected via smartphone, it tracks where your shoulders and head are in respect to the rest of your body. If either are too far forward, it lets you know by vibrating. This strategy seemed more my speed. The device was sleek-looking, it appeared to be polite, and it could be worn discreetly.

I’ve only used the Upright for a couple days at this point (I ordered it at the start of 2020, but it’s been sitting in its cute little box on the side of my desk for nearly three weeks, staring at me, judging my posture). Now that I’ve taken the time to put it on, I’m happy to report it’s tolerable. I can feel my shoulder, back and ab muscles working harder to keep me upright. My neck is more relaxed, not having to take on so much of the work to hold up my head. My mood even feels slightly more upbeat. 

We will see how long the Upright lasts, if it will suffer the same fate as my Fitbit and yoga training videos or become a steady constant in my life. But for now, I’m proud one of my New Year’s resolutions is being addressed. Now I just have to tackle that whole gym thing. 

Barbara Platts ensures she is not a brand ambassador for Upright. With her posture, no one would let her anywhere close to that job. Reach her at bplatts.000@gmail.com or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.