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Bye, Bye Back Pain: Use Your HSA/FSA for Posture Correctors

Bad posture is a modern but fixable problem. With posture correctors, you can improve your form, reduce neck and back pain, and pay for it with your HSA.

March 27, 2024
Sam O'Keefe
Co-founder & CEO of Flex
Flex - Use Your HSA/FSA for Posture Correctors
Flex - Use Your HSA/FSA for Posture Correctors

Overview

Overview

Overview

Say sayonara to slouching and hello to a healthier back.

Teenagers slumped over their phones, mom and dad complaining of back pain, and grandparents with rounded upper backs…  bad posture is a multi-generational problem.

For the serial slouchers out there, they can take some (dis)comfort in solidarity — according to the Cleveland Clinic, four out of five people experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, folks are also feeling it in their wallets too: low back and neck pain contribute to the highest amount of health care spending per year (an estimated $134.5 billion).

While some posture problems are the result of age, medical conditions, or accidents, this is a largely modern phenomenon #lovehaterelationshipwithtech. Read on to learn about the health impacts of poor posture, the benefits of posture correctors, and how to use your HSA or FSA to pay for posture correctors.

Health Impacts of Poor Posture

Think of your posture as your body's architectural blueprint. Like a foundationally sound building, you want everything to be aligned from your head and shoulders to your hips to your knees and toes (knees and toes).

Good posture is generally the result of a neutral spine with your ears, shoulders, and hips level and stacked on top of each in a balanced upright position. When things get out of whack, it can lead to all sorts of issues.

What are some common signs of bad posture?

First, how do you know if you have bad posture? There are several common signs to look for, and they often overlap:

  • Rounded shoulders: Shoulders are pushed forward and upper back is curved.

  • Hunched back (also known as dowager's hump or kyphosis): Prevalent among older people, this is an excessive curving of the upper back as the result of chronic forward leaning.

  • Head jutting forward: Similar to kyphosis, the head stoops in front of the chest, such as when hunching over a cell phone or computer.

  • Excessively curved lower back (lordosis or swayback): Inward curve of the lower back (think “c” shape that pushes your butt out) from an exaggerated forward tilt of the pelvis, often from excessive sitting. 

  • Flattened lower back (kyphosis): A reduction of the natural curve in the lower back that typically pairs with a forward upper body lean.

Factors that contribute to bad posture

The factors contributing to bad posture vary depending on your age and lifestyle.

Teenagers and young adults are particularly susceptible to developing poor posture habits as the result of heavy backpacks, texting with their necks craned down, and extended electronic use, say while lying on the couch or bed. Worryingly, a study published in the iScience journal showed that up to 50% of children and adolescents have posture problems.

For adults, sitting at a desk all day and leaning towards the screen can contribute to rounded shoulders, a “text” neck, and tight hips. Slouching, on the other hand, can lead to a curved lower back and hunched upper back, and may even contribute to incontinence, constipation, and heartburn because it puts pressure on the abdomen. Top this all off with an average driving commute of about an hour a day and that’s a lot of time to develop bad posture habits.

As we get older, our bones can become weaker, the disks in our spine can shrink, and muscle mass is lost along with becoming less flexible. This makes the elderly more prone to developing spinal issues, like kyphosis.

The negative health impacts of bad posture

Postural misalignments can harm your health in several ways:

  • Musculoskeletal woes: A 2020 paper showed that poor posture can misalign your musculoskeletal system, leading to pain in your neck, shoulders, and back. It can also wear away at your spine, making it more fragile and prone to injury. 

  • Breathing difficulties: According to this 2016 study, when your posture is off, your diaphragm (the muscle that helps you breathe) can't function optimally, making it harder to breathe deeply.

  • Digestive issues: Slouching can crowd your internal organs, potentially leading to digestive problems like heartburn and constipation.

  • Decreased balance: A 2022 paper found that poor posture can affect your balance and increase your risk of falling, especially for older adults.

So what can you do to help prevent posture-related issues or address them if you already have any?

Daily Tips to Improve Your Posture

For most people, incorporating simple habits into their everyday routine can greatly boost their posture:

  • When sitting or driving, maintain a neutral spine position with feet flat on the floor and knees at hip level.

  • When standing, especially for long periods of time, distribute weight evenly on both feet, engage core muscles, and avoid locking knees or slouching.

  • Perform posture-specific exercises such as shoulder blade squeezes, chest stretches, and core strengthening exercises.

  • Seniors can benefit from posture exercises and programs tailored to their needs, focusing on mobility, balance, and muscle strength.

  • Regular stretching routines targeting tight muscles can help alleviate tension and improve flexibility.

Another preventative option that helps reinforce the good form mentioned above are posture correctors.

What are posture correctors?

Posture correctors are orthopedics designed to nudge your body into proper alignment. They come in various forms:

  • Back braces: These posture correctors offer support for your entire back, helping to pull your shoulders back and straighten your spine.

  • Shoulder braces: Focus on improving shoulder posture, particularly helpful for people who hunch or have rounded shoulders.

  • Posture bras: Designed to improve upper back posture and support the bust.

  • Posture straps: Adjustable straps that go across your back and shoulders, providing subtle reminders to maintain good posture.

  • Posture shirts: Clothing with built-in support mechanisms to promote proper alignment.

How do posture correctors work?

Posture correctors apply gentle pressure to specific areas on your back and shoulders. The feedback helps remind you to adjust your posture and trains your body through muscle memory to maintain that alignment.

When wearing them, you should feel a gentle pull or stretch as the posture corrector nudges your body into alignment. Over time, with consistent use, you may notice an improvement in your posture, reduced pain, and increased awareness of your body position.

Are there any side effects?

While generally safe, posture correctors can cause discomfort if worn for too long or if not adjusted properly. It's important to choose the right size and type for your needs and to listen to your body if you experience any pain or discomfort.

Further, it’s important to note that posture correction supports generally should only be worn for a few hours a day. Wearing a posture corrector for too long can weaken your muscles and lead to dependence on the device.

What are the health benefits of posture correctors?

Many people who have tried posture correctors noted improved posture, strengthened posture muscles, and increased postural awareness. One of our favorite posture correctors is Forme.

Forme: Your Science-Based Ally in the Fight Against Bad Posture

Forme offers innovative solutions in the form of posture-correcting bras and shirts. We’ll go into the technology, but for some of you, all you might need to know is that they are Taylor Swift-approved.

Forme’s staple — and what Tay Tay rehearses in, which allows her to put on a near four-hour show — is an FDA-registered posture-correcting bra. The bra helps to develop spine and shoulder muscle memory so that the proper posture is ingrained in the wearer. By activating and supporting key muscle groups, the bra guides the body into proper alignment naturally, making it one of the best posture correctors for women out there.

Designed by an orthopedic surgeon to help his mom improve her posture after a bout with cancer, Forme incorporates varied tension fabrics to cultivate biofeedback with the user. The result is pain relief, improved posture, decreased neck and back tension, and increased chest expansion for better breathing.

If finding a solution for your pain in the neck is a pain in the neck, a posture corrector may be the way to go — and you might be able to use your Health Savings Account (HSA) of Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to pay for it.

How to Use HSA/FSA to Pay for Posture Correctors — And How Flex Can Help

Support braces (for neck, back, etc.) are qualified medical expenses with the IRS which means you can use your HSA or FSA to pay for them. However, not all posture correctors are strictly considered support braces

(If you’re new to using your HSA or FSA, there are thousands of eligible health-related items, including some surprising options like fitness trackers, air purifiers, and baby monitoring devices.)

To buy a pre-approved medical expense: Simply use your HSA or FSA debit card at check out when at a pharmacy, hospital or other medical establishment. If you’re buying from an online brand, however, they may not be able to accept your payment. That’s where Flex comes in: If a company has partnered with Flex, you'll see a "checkout with Flex" option on the payment page. Pay for the product or service with your HSA or FSA card and checkout as usual. Flex will substantiate the purchase automatically. 

Just be sure to save your receipt as you may need them for reimbursement or documentation purposes.

If the item or expense falls outside of standard IRS guidelines: It’s important to note that in some cases you might need to obtain a Letter of Medical Necessity (LOMN) before purchasing an item. For example, while Forme products are FDA registered as part of the spine brace category, they can also be bought for general wellness purposes — this means that a few extra steps are needed to qualify the purchase for HSA/FSA.

(Items that can be used for general health and wellness are not considered pre-approved medical expense by the IRS. Compare this to a neck brace worn after an accident, which is strictly used for medical purposes.)

Instead, a doctor must deem the product or service medically necessary to address a specific health condition, which is prescribed in the LOMN. Traditionally, the process can be tedious, luckily, Flex works with Forme, and many other ecommerce companies, to make this a super easy part of the checkout flow.

Don’t Let a Bad Back Hold You Back! Use Your HA to Get a Posture Corrector

Poor posture may be keeping you down, but now you have the knowledge and the tools to stand tall and proud. With posture correctors by your side (or neck, shoulder, back) and your HSA/FSA as your financial support, you’re well on your way to achieving posture perfection.

Say sayonara to slouching and hello to a healthier back.

Teenagers slumped over their phones, mom and dad complaining of back pain, and grandparents with rounded upper backs…  bad posture is a multi-generational problem.

For the serial slouchers out there, they can take some (dis)comfort in solidarity — according to the Cleveland Clinic, four out of five people experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, folks are also feeling it in their wallets too: low back and neck pain contribute to the highest amount of health care spending per year (an estimated $134.5 billion).

While some posture problems are the result of age, medical conditions, or accidents, this is a largely modern phenomenon #lovehaterelationshipwithtech. Read on to learn about the health impacts of poor posture, the benefits of posture correctors, and how to use your HSA or FSA to pay for posture correctors.

Health Impacts of Poor Posture

Think of your posture as your body's architectural blueprint. Like a foundationally sound building, you want everything to be aligned from your head and shoulders to your hips to your knees and toes (knees and toes).

Good posture is generally the result of a neutral spine with your ears, shoulders, and hips level and stacked on top of each in a balanced upright position. When things get out of whack, it can lead to all sorts of issues.

What are some common signs of bad posture?

First, how do you know if you have bad posture? There are several common signs to look for, and they often overlap:

  • Rounded shoulders: Shoulders are pushed forward and upper back is curved.

  • Hunched back (also known as dowager's hump or kyphosis): Prevalent among older people, this is an excessive curving of the upper back as the result of chronic forward leaning.

  • Head jutting forward: Similar to kyphosis, the head stoops in front of the chest, such as when hunching over a cell phone or computer.

  • Excessively curved lower back (lordosis or swayback): Inward curve of the lower back (think “c” shape that pushes your butt out) from an exaggerated forward tilt of the pelvis, often from excessive sitting. 

  • Flattened lower back (kyphosis): A reduction of the natural curve in the lower back that typically pairs with a forward upper body lean.

Factors that contribute to bad posture

The factors contributing to bad posture vary depending on your age and lifestyle.

Teenagers and young adults are particularly susceptible to developing poor posture habits as the result of heavy backpacks, texting with their necks craned down, and extended electronic use, say while lying on the couch or bed. Worryingly, a study published in the iScience journal showed that up to 50% of children and adolescents have posture problems.

For adults, sitting at a desk all day and leaning towards the screen can contribute to rounded shoulders, a “text” neck, and tight hips. Slouching, on the other hand, can lead to a curved lower back and hunched upper back, and may even contribute to incontinence, constipation, and heartburn because it puts pressure on the abdomen. Top this all off with an average driving commute of about an hour a day and that’s a lot of time to develop bad posture habits.

As we get older, our bones can become weaker, the disks in our spine can shrink, and muscle mass is lost along with becoming less flexible. This makes the elderly more prone to developing spinal issues, like kyphosis.

The negative health impacts of bad posture

Postural misalignments can harm your health in several ways:

  • Musculoskeletal woes: A 2020 paper showed that poor posture can misalign your musculoskeletal system, leading to pain in your neck, shoulders, and back. It can also wear away at your spine, making it more fragile and prone to injury. 

  • Breathing difficulties: According to this 2016 study, when your posture is off, your diaphragm (the muscle that helps you breathe) can't function optimally, making it harder to breathe deeply.

  • Digestive issues: Slouching can crowd your internal organs, potentially leading to digestive problems like heartburn and constipation.

  • Decreased balance: A 2022 paper found that poor posture can affect your balance and increase your risk of falling, especially for older adults.

So what can you do to help prevent posture-related issues or address them if you already have any?

Daily Tips to Improve Your Posture

For most people, incorporating simple habits into their everyday routine can greatly boost their posture:

  • When sitting or driving, maintain a neutral spine position with feet flat on the floor and knees at hip level.

  • When standing, especially for long periods of time, distribute weight evenly on both feet, engage core muscles, and avoid locking knees or slouching.

  • Perform posture-specific exercises such as shoulder blade squeezes, chest stretches, and core strengthening exercises.

  • Seniors can benefit from posture exercises and programs tailored to their needs, focusing on mobility, balance, and muscle strength.

  • Regular stretching routines targeting tight muscles can help alleviate tension and improve flexibility.

Another preventative option that helps reinforce the good form mentioned above are posture correctors.

What are posture correctors?

Posture correctors are orthopedics designed to nudge your body into proper alignment. They come in various forms:

  • Back braces: These posture correctors offer support for your entire back, helping to pull your shoulders back and straighten your spine.

  • Shoulder braces: Focus on improving shoulder posture, particularly helpful for people who hunch or have rounded shoulders.

  • Posture bras: Designed to improve upper back posture and support the bust.

  • Posture straps: Adjustable straps that go across your back and shoulders, providing subtle reminders to maintain good posture.

  • Posture shirts: Clothing with built-in support mechanisms to promote proper alignment.

How do posture correctors work?

Posture correctors apply gentle pressure to specific areas on your back and shoulders. The feedback helps remind you to adjust your posture and trains your body through muscle memory to maintain that alignment.

When wearing them, you should feel a gentle pull or stretch as the posture corrector nudges your body into alignment. Over time, with consistent use, you may notice an improvement in your posture, reduced pain, and increased awareness of your body position.

Are there any side effects?

While generally safe, posture correctors can cause discomfort if worn for too long or if not adjusted properly. It's important to choose the right size and type for your needs and to listen to your body if you experience any pain or discomfort.

Further, it’s important to note that posture correction supports generally should only be worn for a few hours a day. Wearing a posture corrector for too long can weaken your muscles and lead to dependence on the device.

What are the health benefits of posture correctors?

Many people who have tried posture correctors noted improved posture, strengthened posture muscles, and increased postural awareness. One of our favorite posture correctors is Forme.

Forme: Your Science-Based Ally in the Fight Against Bad Posture

Forme offers innovative solutions in the form of posture-correcting bras and shirts. We’ll go into the technology, but for some of you, all you might need to know is that they are Taylor Swift-approved.

Forme’s staple — and what Tay Tay rehearses in, which allows her to put on a near four-hour show — is an FDA-registered posture-correcting bra. The bra helps to develop spine and shoulder muscle memory so that the proper posture is ingrained in the wearer. By activating and supporting key muscle groups, the bra guides the body into proper alignment naturally, making it one of the best posture correctors for women out there.

Designed by an orthopedic surgeon to help his mom improve her posture after a bout with cancer, Forme incorporates varied tension fabrics to cultivate biofeedback with the user. The result is pain relief, improved posture, decreased neck and back tension, and increased chest expansion for better breathing.

If finding a solution for your pain in the neck is a pain in the neck, a posture corrector may be the way to go — and you might be able to use your Health Savings Account (HSA) of Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to pay for it.

How to Use HSA/FSA to Pay for Posture Correctors — And How Flex Can Help

Support braces (for neck, back, etc.) are qualified medical expenses with the IRS which means you can use your HSA or FSA to pay for them. However, not all posture correctors are strictly considered support braces

(If you’re new to using your HSA or FSA, there are thousands of eligible health-related items, including some surprising options like fitness trackers, air purifiers, and baby monitoring devices.)

To buy a pre-approved medical expense: Simply use your HSA or FSA debit card at check out when at a pharmacy, hospital or other medical establishment. If you’re buying from an online brand, however, they may not be able to accept your payment. That’s where Flex comes in: If a company has partnered with Flex, you'll see a "checkout with Flex" option on the payment page. Pay for the product or service with your HSA or FSA card and checkout as usual. Flex will substantiate the purchase automatically. 

Just be sure to save your receipt as you may need them for reimbursement or documentation purposes.

If the item or expense falls outside of standard IRS guidelines: It’s important to note that in some cases you might need to obtain a Letter of Medical Necessity (LOMN) before purchasing an item. For example, while Forme products are FDA registered as part of the spine brace category, they can also be bought for general wellness purposes — this means that a few extra steps are needed to qualify the purchase for HSA/FSA.

(Items that can be used for general health and wellness are not considered pre-approved medical expense by the IRS. Compare this to a neck brace worn after an accident, which is strictly used for medical purposes.)

Instead, a doctor must deem the product or service medically necessary to address a specific health condition, which is prescribed in the LOMN. Traditionally, the process can be tedious, luckily, Flex works with Forme, and many other ecommerce companies, to make this a super easy part of the checkout flow.

Don’t Let a Bad Back Hold You Back! Use Your HA to Get a Posture Corrector

Poor posture may be keeping you down, but now you have the knowledge and the tools to stand tall and proud. With posture correctors by your side (or neck, shoulder, back) and your HSA/FSA as your financial support, you’re well on your way to achieving posture perfection.

Flex is a modern marketplace for consumers to discover and purchase HSA/FSA eligible products. From fitness and nutrition, to sleep and mental health, Flex takes a holistic view of healthcare and enables consumers to use their pre-tax money to do the same.