March 8, 2014

Product Review: EquiFit ShouldersBack Lite

Product: EquiFit ShouldersBack Lite (Link)
Retail price: $46.95
What I paid: $30 (eBay)
Size: Medium/Adult Adolescent
It comes in a can with happy people doing normal every day activities on the front.  I believe it is meant to imply that you too can happily walk around downtown in normal clothes while ostensibly wearing a Shoulders Back!

Where I Wear It
I wear it mostly to work, where I average 4-6 hours of sitting at my computer, and the rest of the day I am walking, lifting, crawling under desks to cable things, etc.  I wore it once for a lesson, but otherwise do not wear it to ride.

How I Wear It
I wear a deep v-neck shirt, then put the ShouldersBack on, then my work polo over that.  No one can tell I am wearing it.  The t-shirt with sleeves is essential to prevent rubs.

What I Noticed
- It doesn't 100% prevent slouching, but it makes slouching uncomfortable enough that I notice and fix it quickly.
- The muscles on the upper left side of my back were sore during and after wearing it the first few days - the right side, the stronger side, was not.
- The one time I wore it in my lesson, I didn't tell my trainer, as an experiment.  She got after me about being too upright in the jump saddle, the only time she's ever said that.
- More than shoulders back, it really ingrains that "ribcage out and forward" feeling into your body, even when you take it off.
- Maybe this is TMI, but I had no idea my boobs were supposed to sit this high on my body...
- It's extremely effective when you're not leaning against a chair back, or you're in a chair perfectly adjusted for your height/femur length.

How It Helped
- It made me realize how weak the left side of my back really is, and how my daily activities and habits reinforce that weakness/strengthen the strong side.  For example, I have two monitors at work, which I sit in the middle of, and I always arrange my programs in such a way that I am usually turned to the right monitor all day.  Since the SB experiment, I switched primary monitors so I am turned more to the left to help develop the left side of my back.
- It strengthened my upper back muscles so they could do what I was asking them to do - very similar to what a Pessoa or side reins do for a horse.
- My husband wandered in as I was writing this post to say that he likes it because my better posture makes my chest look bigger and my waist look smaller.  So if you need to convince your significant other that the money is worth spending, there's that...

You can see that my shoulder girdle is more over my right hip in this picture - crazy.  I'm never straight.

How I Intend to Wear It Going Forward
I plan to wear it half days at work - it's only going to be truly valuable if I'm able to hold the posture and stop slouching on my own, and it also gets uncomfortable to wear it all day.  It only stops rubbing if your posture gets good enough that you're not leaning on it anymore - I'm not there yet.  That said, the benefits are worth it.

Recommendations If You Buy One
- The SB Lite, with the fine mesh back, is great.
- You probably want a size medium, and you definitely do not want a small.  I am 5'0 and just over 100lbs, and the medium (also known as Adult/Adolescent) is the right size for me and most adults.  Small is intended for children, and they don't make that very clear when you order it.
- Make sure you're also thinking about keeping your hips underneath you - as women, our hips are built such that we're likely to gravitate toward some anterior pelvic tilt when we first try to improve our posture. Keep slight tension in your abs and your hips tucked under.

Shoulder, hips and heels in line...hmmm....they might be on to something here...

- Make sure you put it on the right direction - tag out:

This is right - this side faces out.

This side faces your back.  I put it on backwards at first and the velcro stuck out everywhere.

- When you put it on, attach the two shoulder straps to their velcro ends loosely, and put it on like a backpack:

Pretend this chair is me, and you're facing my back and I'm facing forward, toward the table.

Then do the ribcage strap snugly, then adjust the shoulder straps.  The shoulder strap and ribcage strap should be at a 90 degree angle for maximum posture-improving effectiveness:

90 degree angle

Whew.  Any questions?


  1. Pretty sure I need this! Thanks for the excellent review.

  2. This is so cool! I'm going to have to keep my eye out for one of these. I have horrible posture.

    1. Me too. I am really learning how much it matters, too. That pulled back muscle is a direct result of my bad posture, and it was sort of a warning shot to what could come later if I don't get serious about it.

  3. I always forget to wear this outside of riding!!

    I def agree that a layer under it is neeeeded! Rubbing is no bueno ha!

    1. The rubbing is not good! It's not even rubbing really but I didn't know how else to describe it, maybe you can. It's like...bruising? It doesn't get raw, but it hurts, even if there are no marks on my skin.

  4. You hit the nail on the head when you said that the correction must come from the hips, then the shoulders can balance on top.

    There is no way I could tolerate wearing this thing. Anything that rubs or pulls doesn't last long. I do think it is better than riding with a whip behind your back. My old trainer made me do that a few times and it forced me to arch my lower back or get bruised along my spine.

    1. Yeah, I don't like the whip either. I'm not exactly thrilled about wearing it, but my pulled back muscle taught me I need to get serious about this. It's helping, even if it is uncomfortable.

  5. Agreed wearing it all day is a pain, literal. I usually wear it until I can't stand it!

    1. I made it through the day twice, never again!

  6. Innnnnnteresting. Thank you for running this experiment!