What Is Upright Posture Trainer?
In combination with their smartphone app, Upright Posture Trainer is a wearable device that uses built-in sensors to correct your posture, build muscle memory and core strength, and deliver noticeable back pain relief.
In fact, the manufacturer tells us that by using Upright for 15 minutes per day, their personalized training program can have you sitting straighter and standing taller in as little as two weeks.
To work, the Upright device discreetly and comfortably attaches to your back under your clothes and vibrates when you slouch.
It will also send any data it records to its iOS or Android app, giving you the ability to achieve daily goals, track your statistics over time, and access tips, techniques, and video tutorials.
Is the Upright Posture Trainer really recommended by physicians and chiropractors? Does the fact that it has users all over the world mean it’ll provide a solid value for the money? Are there any competitors?
It might be tough to maintain good posture, but the HighYa team’s no slouch; we’re here to answer your questions! Let’s start with taking a quick look at all things posture.
The Importance of Proper Posture
According to Harvard Health, good posture is defined as keeping your chin parallel to the floor, with your shoulders even, spine neutral (its natural position, without flexing or arching), and arms at your sides with straight, even elbows.
The problem, of course, is that very few of us have good posture, whether sitting or standing. While we might think it’s more comfortable to continue our poor posture habits, the reality is that it can cause blood vessel and nerve constriction, back pain and discomfort, and ongoing problems with your muscles, discs, and joints.
Despite our collective resistance to correcting our posture, the reality is that it can be as easy as regularly performing exercises like single leg extensions, back extensions, crunches, Pilates/Yoga, and more.
Pro tip: In addition to the above, proper posture in the work environment—as opposed to the “real” world—involves proper desk and chair height, placing your keyboard in the proper position, maintaining your monitor at the right level, and more. For actionable details, be sure to read Mayo Clinic’s Office Ergonomics Guide.
What about devices like the Upright Posture Trainer? Can you expect real-world results for your investment? Let’s take a look at how it works.
How Does the Upright Posture Trainer Work?
Upright’s manufacturer tells us their device is based on B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning theory, which aims to understand behavior through an action-and-consequence model.
In layman’s terms, behavior can be changed in different ways, depending on the type of reinforcement used, which he classified into three different operants:
- Neutral operants have no effect on an individual’s behavior
- Reinforcers increase the likelihood of an individual repeating a behavior
- Punishers decrease the likelihood of an individual repeating a behavior
In this context, while not unpleasant by any stretch of the imagination, Upright’s gentle vibration acts as a ‘punisher’ when you slouch. It delivers an “aversive stimulus” that helps you remember a certain behavior (e.g. sitting up straight).
When regularly reinforced over time, such as during your Upright training (more soon), the behavior becomes habit, even without a ‘punishing’ operant present; e.g. the sensor’s gentle vibration.
The Upright sensor is about 4.25" long, 1.5" wide, 1" thick, and weighs approximately 25 grams (a little over half a pound). It’s constructed of a silicone rubber material instead of hard plastic.
Although we didn’t test the device firsthand, we’re not exactly sure this makes Upright “discreet” when placed underneath your clothing. Keep this thought in mind, as we’ll come back to it at the end.
Inside, you’ll find a rechargeable, 3.7V lithium-ion battery, an accelerometer, and a strain gauge (it measures tension to determine if you’re slouching or sitting up straight). Recharging is handled via a specialized cradle powered by a standard micro USB.
The device is resistant to sweat and moisture, but isn't waterproof, and will operate for 8+ hours of total monitoring time (10 days total) when used as directed.
Upright’s tracking device will communicate with your iOS or Android smartphone app via Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0, and all firmware updates are handled through the companion app.
The adhesive used to attach the Upright Posture Trainer to your back is made from a hypoallergenic, rubber-based product (no latex). About once per month, you’ll need to clean your device with a wet tissue or towel.
For detailed information, we’d recommend reading through Upright’s User Manual.
Upright’s monitor isn’t insignificant in size and attaches to your back with single-use adhesive patches. Here, it’s shown in its charging cradle. Image credit: Upright
How To Use Your Upright Posture Trainer
Setting up and using your Upright Posture Trainer works over five basic steps:
1. Find where to attach the device – If you place your hands on your waist, just above your hipbone, and trace your thumbs backward until they meet in the center of your spine, this is where you'll ideally attach the Upright device.
Alternately, you can place Upright’s sensor between you shoulder blades to help improve your posture while standing.
It’s important that this area is clean and dry, so you might want to quickly wipe your skin with an alcohol pad beforehand.
2. Attach the adhesive – Upright’s disposable adhesives have two sides. The scotch side will attach to the black hooks on the back of the device, while the liner side will attach to your skin once positioned appropriately.
3. Find your neutral spine – To find your neutral spine position, fully arch your back and then slouch forward twice.
Then, you’ll pull your belly button toward your spine, roll your shoulders back and drop them, lengthen your neck and slightly tuck in your chin. The company recommends imagining a string pulling you up from the crown of your head.
Remain relaxed and comfortable throughout these movements.
4. Calibration – In this step, Upright learns about your back and your neutral spine position.
To do this, you’ll first sit in a straight position and make sure the app (more next) correctly calibrates your position. Then, you’ll do the same sitting in a slouched position.
5. Testing & Training – Now that everything’s set up, the Upright device will vibrate when it detects slouching during your personalized training program, as long as your back isn’t pressing against anything (such as your chair’s backrest).
If necessary, you can further dial in Upright’s sensitivity in the app. For more, be sure to read through Upright’s Getting Started Tutorial.
What’s up with Upright’s app and training program, exactly?
Upright’s Posture App & Training Program
Current versions of the Upright app are compatible with iOS 7 devices (iPhone 5 and above; iPad 3 and above), as well as Android 4.4 and above.
As mentioned earlier, the app will communicate with Upright’s sensor using Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0. As with any other apps on your smartphone, you’ll also require an internet connection.
As soon as you pair your Upright sensor with your app and register your account, you’ll be asked to enter your weight, height, and age.
Since “each person has different training abilities,” Upright claims to use this limited information to create a personalized training plan that focuses on gradually training your core muscles and building muscle memory.
According to Upright, programs typically consist of 15-30 daily training goals, which will gradually increase over time. You’ll also find longer-term weekly goals.
For example, your first daily goal will be just five minutes of training time, although this will eventually reach 60 minutes.
A screenshot of Upright’s Training Details screen, which shows each of your goals and how close you are to completing them. Image credit: Upright
Once you finish your training program, the company recommends continuing to train for one to two sessions per week, 30-60 minutes each session.
Each app can accommodate two different users on the same phone, although both users will need to wear the same device (at different times, obviously!).
All of the data tracked by Upright’s app is stored on their secure cloud.
How Much Does the Upright Posture Trainer Cost?
The Upright Posture Trainer was priced at $99.95 during our research, with a regular retail price of $129.95. For this price, you’ll receive:
- Upright Posture Trainer
- Micro USB charging cable
- Upright charging dock station
- 60 hypoallergenic adhesives
- iOS and Android App
- Custom training plan
Important note: Normally, Upright sells replacement adhesives in their online store, although they were sold out until January 2017. One Amazon comment from Upright’s founder noted that they’ll cost $14.99.
All Upright orders shipped to the US and Israel come with free shipping. Outside of these locations, you’ll pay actual shipping costs.
Also, keep in mind that VAT and duties are not included in the price for shipments outside of the USA.
Everything you’ll receive with your Upright Posture Trainer order. Image credit: Upright
If you choose, Upright can also be purchased through third-party retailers like Amazon, NewEgg, and many others.
If purchased directly from the manufacturer, Upright comes with a 30-day money back guarantee (from the date of delivery), less S&H.
In order to process a refund, you must contact the company at email@example.com for an RMA and include all the original parts, in good condition, in your return. If not, your refund could be refused, or the company could charge you a 15% restocking fee.
Upright Trainers also come with a one-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship under normal use.
Upright’s customer service department can also be reached at (844) 612-6440, online chat (even through their app), or by scheduling a callback through their website.
Upright Trainer Reviews: Are Customers Achieving Better Posture?
On their website, the Upright Trainer had 25 customer reviews and an average rating of about 4.5-stars, although no details were listed.
99 Amazon customers gave the Upright Posture Trainer a 3.5-star average rating, with most compliments referencing quick, easy training sessions; that the device really does help improve posture and reduce pain once your muscles are trained, and great customer support.
On the other hand, most complaints claimed it didn’t work well, was difficult/inconvenient to attach and remove while at work, and that you’ll have to pause training every time you want to change position, and calibrate the sensor each time you attach it to your back (this appears to have since been updated).
From professional sources, we found much of the same feedback.
For example, CultOfMac noted that Upright’s on-skin adhesive didn’t work well—and to get it to work, they’d have to add a few steps to their daily routine (e.g. shaving their lower back.
Giving Upright a 5/10 rating, Digital Trends found the Upright device a chore to use (mainly because the adhesive didn’t stick well and tended to rip out hair), was priced highly and found its buzzing uncomfortable:
“Through the first few days using the device, I found my back aching as it adjusted to sitting up straight. After about a week the aches eased off, but I felt genuine dread at the prospect of putting it on. More than once, when it buzzed me out of a thought and sent my heart racing, I had to resist a strong urge to rip the Upright off my back and throw it out the window.”
On the up side, they noted that (however unpleasantly) Upright did help correct their posture, was easy to set up, and had a well-designed app.
From a company perspective, Upright got its start via a 2014 Indiegogo campaign, where they raised more than $155K on an original goal of $70K.
The company was founded by Oded Cohen and Ori Fruhauf. Previously, Oded worked extensively as a software engineer and Ori recently obtained his MBA from IDC Herzliya in Israel.
Upright Trainer vs. Lumo Lift & Other Wearable Posture Devices
Over the past couple years, the HighYa team has watched as several posture tracking devices have made their way to market, including Lumo Lift (perhaps Upright’s biggest competitor), Prana, iPosture, Alex, and many more. How does Upright compare?
Although each of these devices is wearable, how they monitor your body couldn't be more different. For example, while Upright attaches to the skin of your lower back and uses a strain gauge to measure your posture, Lumo Lift's oblong sensor uses a magnetic clasp to attach to your shirt near your collarbone and an accelerometer to measure the angle of your body.
iPosture also attaches in this same area; Prana attaches to the front of your pants waist, and Alex is worn over the ears and behind the neck, almost like a pair of wireless headphones.
While Upright, iPosture, and Alex only measure posture, Lumo’s Lift also provides activity tracking (steps, total distance, and calories). Prana monitors breathing (deep breaths, belly breaths, respiration rate) and number of steps as well, including a gamified tracking experience.
From a cost perspective, Lumo is priced at $79.99 (or $149.98 for two), iPosture is priced similarly at $74.95, Alex is $99, while Prana is still pending release.
What’s this mean for you?
If you’re looking to buy now, Prana is out of the question. If you’re looking for the most value for your money, Lumo seems to be the lowest priced option, and it’s also the only available option that features activity tracking.
Prana, iPosture, and Upright are your most discreet options, although Upright can only be worn for short periods of time and some users have found that the adhesive doesn’t stick well. This is in addition to the fact that you’ll have to clean the application area (even of hair) to get Upright to stick in the first place.
You’ll also have an ongoing expense for replacement adhesive pads with Upright.
Finally, as WearableTech outlined, when comparing these other options to Upright, it largely comes down to if you’d prefer wearing a tracker all day, or just for brief periods of time.
Is Upright the Right Posture Trainer for You?
According to Philip V. Cordova, a Doctor of Chiropractic practicing in Houston, TX, he’s found that posture trainers like Upright can be effective. As he sees it, the problem is that patients seem to lose interest in them after a short while—and if you’re not wearing them, they won’t do you any good.
If you’re dead-set on giving a posture trainer a try, though, compared to the competition, it seems that Upright features a unique design. However, this design also means that it uses adhesive pads to track your posture, which—at least based on online customer feedback—might be it’s biggest sticking point (no pun intended).
On top of this, you’ll pay more for Upright than most of the competition, and we have to wonder how truly customized its training plans are based only on height, weight, and age.
The good news is that Upright’s online customer feedback seems mostly positive and the company provides a 30-day refund policy if you’re not completely satisfied with its performance.
It’s also worth mentioning that, if you’re looking to improve your posture without spending any additional money, the American Chiropractic Association recommends sitting with your feet on the floor, keeping your legs uncrossed, making sure your chair provides low- and- mid-back support, and more.
Granted, it can be difficult to remember all of these things while you’re busy working. To provide reminders, you can set notifications on your computer, in the calendar app on your phone, and even using free third-party apps.
Finally, Dr. Cordova reminds us that remembering to sit up straight is often only a small part of the posture issue:
“People who have been in bad posture for years can have spinal fixations, but their muscles have actually changed. The muscles in the front of the body can become short and tight, while the muscles in the back are long and weak. Without supplementing their posture improvement efforts with specific stretches exercises, they become frustrated that they simply cannot maintain good posture throughout the day with reminders alone.”
Long story short, there isn't just one way to improve your posture, so be sure to explore all your options!
Before you go: Did you order the Upright Trainer? Did it help your posture? What are some of the pros and cons? Give us the inside scoop by writing your review below!