By Tom Fontana, MSPT
Anyone out there with loved ones on their holiday shopping list who have crummy upper body posture? Of those, how many complain of upper back or neck fatigue, shoulder pain or shallow breathing? Though as Physical Therapists we always want to correct the CAUSE of the problem in addition to just making your symptoms FEEL better, the use of braces or supports can often assist with symptom relief and/or complement the therapeutic process. You can give the gift of improved posture, decreased pain and improved health with the Intelliskin posture-cueing compression garment.
The shirt (there are sleeveless, short-sleeve and long-sleeve variants for men as well as short-sleeve and three-quarter sleeve options for women along with sport bras and body suits) mimics the principles of kinesiology taping—elastic material that provides compression and is “designed to work with your body by cueing its natural ability to support itself in proper alignment.”
In a study in the August, 2018 International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, forty active females were found to have improved shoulder blade position (i.e., blades held further back and tipped backward) while wearing the Intelliskin versus a generic postural shirt. This position allows the shoulder to function with less likelihood of “pinching” the rotator cuff.
Much like kinesiology taping, the shirt itself is not likely sufficient to “force” your body into good posture but the elastic nature of the fabric reminds you when your posture is less than ideal to encourage you to use the right muscles to position yourself better. It looks like a cross between a deep-sea diving suit and Under Armour. Jade stone is part of the fibers, yielding a cooling effect. They are available at Intelliskin and they come in either black or white, though some have additional color choices. They are form-fitting and while wearing one you may look like you’re ready to take on Thanos as the newest Avenger (assuming you vaguely resemble an Avenger when unclothed…).
The one downside to the Intelliskin is it’s a little bit pricey (most just north of $100) so, if you’re looking to try something like this that’s a little less expensive, you might want to try a similar version of men’s and women’s shirts available at retailers such as Wal-Mart.