Q:  I am 29 and in good health except for chronic back pain (I take 3 Advil a night to help get to sleep).  Chiropractic works, but isn't great, and is expensive. I do not have any serious medical conditions affecting my spine other than very slight scoliosis and a straight (instead of curved) neck.  I also have a lifetime of bad posture behind me--if I stand comfortably, I'm sure my spine resembles an 'S'--hips forward, stomach bulge, chest concave, rounded shoulders. I am seriously considering a corset to help with my posture (and to provide support under a halter dress I want to wear for a wedding in a year).

Will a corset truly help my posture and back pain, or will it only place more emphasis on my neck/shoulder area?   --- Kathleen  (4/13/10)

A:  First I would like to suggest alternatives to regular use of pain medication as a sleep aid. I believe relaxation methods, such as meditation with or without yoga can bring great benefit. The continued use of over the counter pain relievers puts great stress on the liver and if prolonged may cause serious damage. This should probably be the first area to address.

A properly constructed corset will certainly benefit posture; in this case it would have to be custom fitted. However, it is important to realize that the background muscle tone is what ultimately determines the shape and posture, meaning that daily moderate exercise is essential for a balanced muscular foundation for corseting. The corset can certainly provide support. Moderate corseting is not incompatible with moderate exercise such as walking, and can work well together in improving posture and background muscle tone.


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