Posture is one of those elements of health that can have a dramatic impact on you. But, because it's so automatic for most of us, it can be hard to consciously improve. And since I'm all about PRACTICAL and EFFECTIVE when it comes to healthy life changes, I love finding tools that help hardworking moms, like us, make a positive difference in the way we look, feel, and function—especially when it comes to largely subconscious influences like posture.
This is the main reason why I love kinesiology tape, which has been around since the 1970s (you may know it by it's the most popular brand name, RockTape, but there are tons of options out there). While the research is a bit mixed on its true efficacy—a few systematic literature reviews have found inconsistent evidence supporting its purported benefits—studies at least seem to point out it's unlikely that kinesiology tape is harmful, and that perceived benefits (aka placebo effect) shouldn't be ruled out.
In other words: kinesiology tape is almost assuredly not going to hurt you, so if you try it and it helps, why the heck not use it?
Understanding Kinesiology Tape—And The "Bad" Posture it Can Help Fix
I have personal experience using kinesiology tape with my chiropractor. For me, it's been a HUGE game changer for improving my posture.
The basic premise is that the tape acts like a mini-feedback system. After applying kinesiology tape to your body (with the body in an ideal posture), the tape provides real-time tactile cueing for as long as it's on you (quality brands should last around 2 to 3 days). Any time you deviate from that ideal posture, you'll feel the pulling of the tape and be prompted to correct yourself. It's basically like a higher tech, more effective version of snapping your wrist with a rubber band.
Other reported benefits of kinesiology tape include:
- Reduced pain
- Improved blood and lymphatic flow (by slightly lifting the skin and increasing space for tissue perfusion)
- Reduced muscle and tissue tension
Like I said, the jury's out on how legit these benefits actually are, but considering how many people use kinesiology tape (including professional athletes), I think you'd be hard-pressed to say that people aren't finding success with this tool.
Before we go into the how-to's of kinesiology tape, I think it's worth taking a moment to define what I mean by "better" posture. In an ideal world, our posture will look like this:
- Head is neutral with the gaze straight ahead (chin not pointing forward nor up)
- Ears are lined up with shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles
- Shoulders are down and relaxed (not rounded forward)
- Curves of the spine are neutral, with posterior neck and anterior trunk muscles relaxed yet engaged and elongated
- Ribcage and pelvis are neutral and not sticking out (the "cup" of your pelvis isn't tilting forward or backward)
- Knees have a slight bend
Starting any functional task from this position is ideal because it minimizes strain and tension on our tissues and joints, encourages appropriate core muscle activation, supports ideal breathing patterns, and yes—helps reduce the presence and appearance of a mom pouch.
Research even shows that improving your posture can improve your mood. You read that right: we're talking about physical AND psychological benefits to standing up straight with your shoulders back!
Ladies—improving your posture take practice and time, but don't give up—it's truly worth it. And if something like kinesiology tape safely helps you, then have at it.
3 Ways to Use Kinesiology Tape for Better Posture
- Taping to correct hyperlordosis.
Hyperlordosis basically looks like walking around with the butt sticking out and the pelvis tilted forward. This can cause serious shortening of the hip flexors and lead to a lot of low back pain.
A basic correction is the standard H technique. Put two pieces of tape on either side of the spine, extending from the belt line up to the mid back. Then apply a strip of tape running perpendicular to the spine in the low back area, from hip to hip (be sure this strip extends over the other two upright strips).
- Taping to correct forward head.
If your neck is frequently sore and achy after using a computer, smartphone, or while out and about in your daily life, you may be straining the tissues in your cervical spine by continually sticking your head forward.
Here's one variation of the forward head/neck pain technique to try: Apply two pieces of tape on either side of the spine from the lower shoulder blade up to just below the hairline. The third piece of tape goes perpendicular to the spine and the other two strips at the base of the neck and along the upper traps.
- Taping to correct rounded shoulders.
This technique prevents general slouching, scapular protraction, and shoulder internal rotation (which can cause shortening in the pecs, upper back pain, and a disruption in your breathing if left uncorrected).
Use the posture X technique for this one. You'll measure two strips of tape, each running from the tip of one shoulder to the opposite armpit, then apply the tape in the shape of an X at the upper back.
For best results, I STRONGLY encourage you to consult with a physical therapist, chiropractor, or any other person certified in the use of kinesiology tape FIRST. They can put the tape on correctly and then teach you how to do it yourself (or teach someone how to help you). If you're postpartum or pregnant, finding a pre or postnatal specialist is even BETTER, because these pros can help you in regard to other unique issues you may be facing, including diastasis, weakened and dysfunctional core activation, pelvic girdle pain, and so on.
Ladies, have any of you tried kinesiology tape before? Let me know what you think! Need more help with posture positioning and healing your core post pregnancy? You can download my full ab rehab program here: Nancy Anderson Fit Ab Rehab Program.