IntelliSkin Posture Undershirt Review
An interesting solution to the posture problem. Intelliskin posture undershirts behave like Kinesio tape (and were actually born out of demand for a tape replacement that lasted for more than a couple days) by providing tactile feedback to postural muscles. That’s the theory, anyway, and it seems to work. While we can’t confirm or refute the tech behind Intelliskin, we can speak to its results. Bottom line: these shirts will haul you into shape, whether you like it or not.
Visibly corrects posture, testers wearing Intelliskin shirts stood visibly more upright, with gut in, chest out, and shoulders back. Futuristic design looks incredible, and many testers reported feeling “sort of like the Terminator”. In a good way.
Difficult to get on, although zipper models minimize the struggle. Some testers found that the mesh panels became itchy over time. Over-ambitious use can result in crushing muscle soreness.
The first question you’ll likely find yourself thinking after opening a new Intelliskin shirt is “how the heck am I supposed to put this thing on?” Everyone has their own answer – zipper models are relatively easy to get into, but anything else is a simple case of wriggle and pull. Proper sizing is key, Intelliskin makes shirts from XS all the way up to 3XL, so make sure you find something that fits. Larger users should be a little cautious, as a 300lb tester found even the largest size - theoretically fitting those up to 330lb - extremely tight.
Wearable Posture Control
Once on, these shirts behave like unusually aggressive Saran wrap, and it may take a moment to get used to the squeeze. It doesn’t take long for Intelliskin to take effect either. The company claims that the elastic panels on the back of the shirt alert a user to improper posture movements – like the forward shoulder roll of a hunch – by gently tugging on the offending body parts. In practice, the Intelliskin shirts are less about reminding than they are about enforcing. Those elastic panels exert some serious pull, and will jerk your shoulders back and your spine upright, hence the immediate, visible effect on posture that these shirts can have. Hunching forward is difficult, and also unpleasant, as stretching the shirt cranks it even tighter – one reviewer reported difficulty breathing whenever she tried to resist the posture correction. It’s not what anyone would call pleasant, but it certainly is effective. Intelliskin will have you either ramrod straight or gasping for breath – not the toughest choice to make.
On the other hand, good posture is rewarded. Rolling your shoulders back becomes a natural tendency while wearing an Intelliskin product, as the elastic panels encourage and ease the movement. Unlike a posture coaching device like the Lumo Back, Intelliskin requires very little attention from the wearer to function. Keep one of these on for a bit, and you’ll find yourself maintaining posture without any conscious effort. Users should be careful not to become dependent on Intelliskin shirts, but they are wonderfully easy to benefit from. The eventual goal of the Intelliskin, and any similar products, is to train appropriate muscle memory, allowing you to keep proper posture even while not wearing the shirt. One of the nice things about the Intelliskin is how easy it is to slip into one for a posture touch-up if you catch yourself slipping.
Shed Your Skin
One running gripe we had with the Intelliskin products was simple: they itch. Not all of our testers had this problem, but many did notice that, after extended wear, the seams along the elastic panels became incredibly, sometimes unbearably itchy (a super-lightweight undershirt beneath the Intelliskin might remedy the problem). The discomfort caused a couple of rushed trips to the changing room after an hour or two of use, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing…
…since it’s not a great idea to wear these for too long at first anyway. Intelliskin advises only wearing its products for a couple of hours at a time (2-3 the first day, 4-6 the second, and so on) while getting used to them, and we would heavily recommend listening to them. Upright standing posture is a great thing – you’ll feel better, and you’ll look better – but many habitual slouchers have severely underdeveloped postural muscles in the lower back. Keeping those activated for an entire day can land you flat on your newly straight but very sore back, so stay conservative at first.
Intelliskin boasts several professional athletes among its brand ambassadors (as well as ex Guns n’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan, strangely enough), and we can certainly see why. Intelliskin inventor and chiropractor Tim Brown devotes a healthy slice of his site to explaining the role of posture in sports medicine. The Intelliskin blog in particular is an interesting read – we’re not able to confirm any scientific claims, but most posts seem plausible. In short, keeping good posture is essential during any physically strenuous activity; bad posture is damaging enough for inactive standers, but truly awful for athletes. Seems sensible enough, but we would like to offer one quick caution. Don’t forget that an Intelliskin shirt will encourage good posture, but won’t defend you from poor posture. Don’t expect your undershirt to stop you from hunching during a lift, or from lifting your shoulders too high while running.
Select your Skin
The basic, aggressive posture undershirts offered by Intelliskin are the Eve, for women, and the Foundation, for men. Both come in long sleeve, short sleeve, and zippered options, with the zipper being a little easier to get on. If you find them a little too intense, or a little too cumbersome, then the gentler Essential T-shirt is available, as well as a tank top version for men, and a sports bra for women. Intelliskin’s Reactivator shorts were not tested at WorkWhileWalking, so we can only comment on their rather intimidating appearance and price tag.