For years, Joan Weissman played tennis competitively, racking up a shelf full of trophies — until she was sidelined by chronic rotator cuff and biceps pain last year. “I thought I’d never play tennis again,” says Weissman, 71, of Columbus, Ohio. Then a tennis pro at her club suggested something that sounded crazy at first — a shirt designed to ease her shoulder, arm and back pain.
“I was extremely skeptical,” she remembers. “I mean, cortisone shots hadn’t helped me. What was a shirt going to do?” When her physical therapist told her it might be worth a try, Weissman decided to order one.
The custom-fitted “posture” shirt she tried, manufactured by Southern California-based Alignmed Evidence Based Apparel, is made of cotton and spandex, with polyester bands strategically placed to gently pull the shoulders back and align the spine to a normal posture.
“Within a few weeks of wearing one I was feeling better than I had in months,” says Weissman. “Before, I was barely able to lift anything with my one arm. Now I’m lifting 10-pound weights and exercising again. I’m back to playing tennis.”
Weismann’s physical therapist, Erica Mullins, who works at Mount Carmel New Albany Hospital, was equally impressed. “Like a lot of people as they get older, Joanie walked with her head forward and her shoulders rounded,” says Mullins, and that kind of posture can cause inflammation of the shoulder or rotator cuff problems. “She’d gotten some relief with rehabilitation. But whenever she tried playing tennis again, the pain came back. The posture shirt really made it possible for her to play again.”
Mullins now recommends the shirt to some of her clients. “I’ll have younger people wear the shirt during rehab to correct their posture. Once their symptoms resolve, they usually don’t need it any longer. For the older population, I recommend wearing it most of the time, especially when they’re doing a sport or activity.”