Gear Guy: Compression, with a Twist
One day back in January, Pinch sent me an email, asking if I knew about something called a Posture Shirt. He thought it might make a good Gear Guy review.
No, I didn’t. But I looked at the website, sent an email to the company and before I knew it, I had four shirts in a box on my front porch — two for me and two for Pinch. Melanie at Evidence Based Apparel, the shirt’s maker, was kind enough to send them to me to review, free of charge.
Made of a poly-spandex blend, the Posture Shirt that I tried feels much like any tight-fitting, compression-style workout shirt I’ve worn, but with a difference. Woven into the shirt at strategic locations are polyester, non-stretching “Neuro-Bands.” Two of the bands run from your upper chest, over your shoulders and cross your shoulder blades, meeting in a single panel that runs vertically the length of your spine.
The point of the Neuro-Bands is to pull your shoulders back and put your body in proper, balanced and aligned posture (hence the name “Posture Shirt”). Because of the bands, when you wear the shirt you can’t help but stand up straighter and taller, with chest out and shoulders back — just the way your mother always wanted you to stand when you were a slouchy teenager.
In addition to the actual pull exerted on your body to push you into correct posture, the EBA folks also say that the shirt, by putting your body in balance and alignment, is sending helpful neurological signals to your brain. (In much the same way that our friends at Hyperwear are selling weight vests to women as a preventive measure against osteporosis, the EBA folks market their shirts not only as workout gear for athletes, but also as a medical aid to folks with multiple sclerosis and other spinal ailments.)
I can’t speak to the neurological dialogue the Posture Shirt is having with my gear-addled brain; what I can say is that I really like the black poly-spandex shirt as a base layer during F3 workouts. It’s got all the virtues of a good compression shirt — tight fitting, a lot of muscular support — with the added bonus of keeping you in good form and alignment during your fifth round of push-o-rama or your Sixth Minute of Mary.
The other time I like wearing my Posture Shirt is during running, like on the fast-paced Sweet Six run we do each Thursday morning. As many of you know, I’m always trying to be a better chi runner and one of the key precepts drummed into me by Amy Peacock is that you should stand straight and tall and lean slightly forward from your ankles when you’re trying to “feel your chi” — and the Posture Shirt helps with that.
Here’s what Pinch had to say about the poly-spandex shirt:
“The black performance shirt is excellent. Whether it’s making a tangible difference in my posture or it’s a placebo effect, I really like wearing it. I have bad posture, particularly with shoulders ‘rolling forward’ due to years of football weight lifting (only focusing on shoulders and chest and thus developing muscle imbalances) and sitting at a computer for eleven hours a day, five days a week for fourteen years. It feels as though it makes a difference in slightly pulling my shoulders back and also serves as a constant reminder if I’m slouching as I can feel the shirt tightening/pulling on my shoulders.”
He alludes to a “placebo effect,” and I agree with that completely. Whether or not the shirt is “really” helping your posture, balance, alignment or neurological state, you simply feel like more of an athlete when you’re wearing it.
We were both less impressed with the second shirt Melanie sent. That one is white and made of cotton (the “V-Neck Zip Soft Cotton”), with a zipper that runs all the way up the front and the same posture-enhancing Neuro-Bands. If one was to wear an EBA shirt as a daily undershirt, this would be the style you would probably choose, but the zipper made it kind of funky to put on and off (the poly-spandex shirt is a pullover) and, despite being made of cotton, it lacks the all-day comfort I would need to wear it as an undershirt. The three or four times I wore it around on a Saturday, it only took four hours or so before I started feeling like I was stuck inside a sausage casing and couldn’t wait to get the thing off.
Cost is another issue. At $100 each, Posture Shirts are a lot more expensive than even a top-end compression shirt from Nike or Under Armour (usually more in the $45-$60 range). I’ve found I can get a lot of wear out of my Posture Shirt by taking it in the shower with me after a workout and rinsing it out there, and only laundering it every couple of weeks. But still, if this was going to be your base workout shirt, you would probably want to have two or three of them — and that gets expensive.
The EBA folks aren’t able able, through their current eStore to set us up for volume discounts, but talking with them about that, particularly if we’re able to drive some sales in the near-term. In the meantime, if you’d like to try a Posture Shirt yourself, order through this link, use the coupon code “f3nation” (all lowercase, no quotation marks) and you can get 15% off any order from their store.
Let me know what you think.