You may remember I reviewed the Opedix tights last season and was mucho stoked for the good results I got. Opedix saw the review and approached me to try out a few more of their products, including the Posture shirt. As per usual with gear tests, a long process of sizing occurred involving sending shirts back and forth and squeezing my freshly showered torso into various sizes so that I wouldn’t dirty up the shirts that had to go back. Finally we identified the correct sizing scheme, and I was ready to go.
Then I found I have an IT band injury which has caused my knee woes during running. So, most workouts ceased for a good while. So the shirt sat, still in its plastic wrap.
I am almost ready to go running again, but not today. Still, in a flash of brilliance I found a way to test the shirt – an unorthodox way, one might say, for a gear blogger who focuses on the outdoor sports like skiing, running, climbing, and biking.
Yes, it’s time to admit that I live a double life. I am indeed a hard-running, distance-cycling, big-line skiing backcountry badass, but I’m also a prissy, tall-boot wearing, fancy-tight-pants-with-leather-seat-sporting equestrian. I have horses.
My original sporting life was focused on horses. I rode hunter/jumpers as a Young Rider and then switched to dressage. If you don’t know what dressage is, it’s basically a type of training that enhances a horse’s natural movements and ends up being, in a practical sense, a cross between ballet and bodybuilding for the animal. Think of a Mikhail Baryshnikov and Mr. Olympia-era Schwarzenegger love child. Those are some strong horses.
I quit riding for about 9 years while I honed my ski/bike/run/climb skills. Last November I was compelled to purchase another horse, as some of you know. So that’s the backstory. Now, the double life is in full swing.
One of the things I have ALWAYS struggled with while riding is posture. I slouch, I slump, I get lazy, I look down, I just have a hard time with the whole shoulders-back, look-elegant thing. I blame a long line of coaches who never bothered to correct it. Let this be a lesson to you all – if you are paying for your own, or your childrens’ riding lessons, you better be damn sure the coach happily sending you the huge bill every month is actually paying attention to the riding, or your burgeoning Robert Dover will be stuck the rest of his life struggling to hold his shoulders back.
So today, when deciding what snappy little riding outfit to wear, my eye happened upon the Posture Shirt and a cunning plan was born.
I’m a size six, regularly, and I usually go with a small in tops, but the small posture shirt was too much of an exercise in contortionism to get on and off so I settled on a medium. The medium is nicely snug but not tight at all; in fact, at first I thought I had a bit of extra room at the shoulders because there was a little bit of puckering along my traps. However, after wearing the shirt for a bit, the puckering went away and the shirt fit fine. I like that, although it’s a short-sleeve shirt, the designers avoided the temptation to give the shirt those wretched, unflattering cap sleeves. OK, so cap sleeves CAN be cute, but on a shirt designed to be skin-tight? No, no, and NO.
These sleeves, thankfully, are 3/4 bicep length and not super tight. No bulgies! Which is nice, because it was so warm in Durango today that I ended up wearing this shirt with no overshirt while riding. Trust me, you can’t hide stuff in an Opedix product – there’s just no room.
True to my experience with the tights, the benefit of this shirt is noticeable. I didn’t have to tax my rhomboids to keep my shoulders back, and the stabby shoulder pain I awoke with faded as the day went on. I felt as if my ride was one of the more successful ones of the week, in large part because I didn’t slouch and didn’t have to pour tons of energy into my posture. I wore the shirt for most of the day to see if it had the same effect as the pants as far as recovery goes; I don’t have any scientific data at this point but I can say that I was really regretful to have to take it off, because I enjoyed the sensation of being able to relax my shoulders instead of forcing them to behave.
I’d wear an Opedix shirt every day but for one thing – the length and the accompanying “anchor” hem. I understand that this is one of the features of the shirt and is meant to be functional; the long length and the snug hem are meant to hold the shirt in place. When riding a horse, this actually worked all right and didn’t bother me, but when running, I’m not sure that the hem wouldn’t work it’s way up around the waist anyway. I guess I’ll have to report back on that when I can actually run; however I did notice that it bothered me more on the shirts that were sized a bit too small.
When I got home from riding horses, I hopped on my MTB to take Geardog out for a spin. I wondered how the shirt would work on the MTB; after all, the bike posture pretty much promotes slouching. I didn’t notice anything in particular on the bike but the shirt wasn’t too binding or restricting. It was probably pretty helpful; MTB riding promotes chest muscle tightness and having a little counterpressure can’t be a bad thing.
Just like I said in my Opedix running tights review, I think there is something to this technology. I love the way the support relaxes my tight muscles and gives me a little extra help where I need it. I’m sure it will become a regular part of my prissy-ass riding kit, and most likely a part of my regular day to day clothing as well. The Posture Shirt is not exactly a fashion piece, but it’s easy enough to wear under regular clothes and if you’re working out, there’s no issue. I really can’t wait to try it for running; the snazzy ninja look is all the rage and I am really looking forward to trying the effects of the tights and the shirt at the same time.
Sizing seems to be the biggest issue here. I’d say a size up is safe. If you usually wear a small, go with medium, etc. This might be a comfort issue specific to non-tight-clothes-loving me, but I think it’s a pretty solid recommendation and allows for comfort while still providing the compression effects. I love this stuff. I wish there was some other product they could make – oh I know – gloves! I have a bad hand and would like some supportive gloves. How about it?