View Full Version : "Shoulders Back" Product - Comments on Effectiveness?

Apr. 20, 2009, 11:16 AM
Interested to hear from those who have used Equifit's Shoulders Back (either riders who have actually worn it, or trainers who have taught students who have worn it). I am thinking of recommending it to a rider who rides with rounded shoulders (and just doesn't seem to grasp the feel of keeping her shoulders back).

Additionally, any excercises that are great for teaching riders to keep their shoulders back would be welcome!

Apr. 20, 2009, 11:52 AM
I personally love the product. I have one shoulder that rounds a bit due to an injury in addition to having bad posture. Love, love, love it.

As far as exercises go, IMO you can do more off the horse to correct the problem. Many times rounded shoulders on the horse stem from the person having poor posture off the horse. This causes the muscles in the chest to become shorter and the muscles across the back to be a bit longer and weaker. Stretching and weight training will help a lot. (There are professionals who can describe the stretches much better than I).

Good luck!

Apr. 20, 2009, 12:32 PM
I used it for awhile and it was great! I also had an instructor who would make me carry a dressage whip by my elbows to help me keep straight.

Apr. 20, 2009, 01:30 PM
I'm glad the product worked for you, I'm afraid I didn't see much difference in my perpetually "shrugged shoulders." It's been a problem for 35 years, and it just doesn't want to go away. Pilates, check. Fitness classes, check. Shoulders-Back harness, check.

I'm trying my best to finally improve my posture, on and off a horse, but it's not an easy fix.

Apr. 20, 2009, 02:15 PM
I second the crop or whip behind your elbows. I used the shoulders back too and found that it didn't KEEP my shoulders back, but did make me uncomfortable enough when I rounded my shoulders that it was a good reminder to put them back again.

Desert Topaz
Apr. 20, 2009, 02:35 PM
I've got bad posture due to various injuries and found if I can't get my shoulders back it's because I haven't stretched out the muscles in front of my shoulders enough. This is the best stretch I've found (recommended to me by a chiropractor. I hope my description makes sense.)

Stand in a corner facing the corner itself. Stand as close as you need to for the following:

Put your elbows against the two walls so they're at about shoulder height (so the line from shoulder to elbow should be parallel to the floor.) With elbow at 90 degrees, place palms on wall above elbow.
Lean body forward (towards corner) for 30 seconds.

Raise elbows a little higher on the wall (elbow angle now greater than 90 degrees)
Lean body forward (towards corner) for 30 seconds.

Lower elbows (elbow angle now less than 90 degrees)
Lean body forward (towards corner) for 30 seconds.

I find the third one (lower elbows) is the hardest for me and that's the one that really helps the shoulders back thing. I try to do it every day.

Apr. 20, 2009, 02:44 PM
These various versions of a "merry widow" or figure 8 bra have been around forever.

They probably help some but can be awfully hot and uncomfortable. Those I know who have used them, use it at home only to help them learn what it should feel like. Too uncomfortable to use at a show...plus there is a little bit of an ethics issue.

I found 10 minutes with that stick behind the elbows does the same thing. Doesn't cost anything either.

Apr. 21, 2009, 04:15 PM
ride with a coat hanger stuck in the back of your shirt this works best with a loose fit polo and it will remind your student to keep her shoulders back!!!!

Apr. 21, 2009, 04:52 PM
Too uncomfortable to use at a show...plus there is a little bit of an ethics issue.

Oh give me a break. I love you, findeight, but I completely disagree that there's any ethics issue. No more than having stirrups on your saddle. Or a knee or thigh block. Or using a pelham. Or martingale. Or sporty hafft spray. Or a hairnet.

They're no more uncomfortable at a show than anywhere else. Many people use them at shows. Most people I know "train" in them at home (and work) for muscle memory. It really helps.

Apr. 21, 2009, 05:26 PM
I had one (not especially sure that I needed it, as my problem was more of "sitting taller" versus having my "shoulder's back".)

That said, it does help. You have to have it adjusted properly, and you have to wear it on/off so you build muscle memory, but it is a pretty nice tool).

I sold mine, which was dumb but I don't think I'll be replacing since I'm not in equitation land anymore ;)

Tex Mex
Apr. 21, 2009, 07:01 PM
I use mine all the time, never go in a flat eq class without it. I don't see any difference "ethically" with wearing a SB or a heavy duty sports bra. There's a lighter version that I love. I highly recommend it!

Apr. 21, 2009, 07:33 PM
I just started a thread on back braces but have been looking at the shoulders back with interest also. Have severe back pain from past fractures and muscle damage. Also have a really large chest that tips me forward and makes the pain even worse. I think I need a support that will help support the back but also help to compensate for the chest weight. Does anyone think the shoulders back would be good for that situation?

I can't load myself up with braces top to bottom and not sure if this product would support enough to help with the pain? I have a really heavy duty bra but there's still some bounce and it's absolutely killing my back. Can anyone describe more about what the shoulders back feels like and does for you? Can you really crank the thing to keep you up straight and give lots of support and still be able to smile and breathe ;)

Apr. 21, 2009, 08:19 PM
I found the cheaper version :) And more comfortable version, accidentally. Got a new sports bra from Under Armour (actually has snaps in the back). I can't remember the exact type, but it works the muscles in the shoulders the same way that the Shoulders Back device does.

As for the ethics, I see it being no different than the flex stirrups that help people get their heels down. Yes, I know there are other reasons (knee injuries, etc), but I feel it's the same thing. I have a shoulder injury that really prevents me from NOT rounding the one shoulder. Though I haven't used it to show, I have seen others use it for similar reasons.

Apr. 22, 2009, 12:32 AM
My daughter has one - she is tall and willowy with a tendency to stoop. As do I, as did my Mother and Grandmother .. she said it changed her life and she even slept better.
She is an elite athlete. I tried it, but am too stiff and set with my kephosis or whatever that ugly condition is called. You are not supposed to wear them for long periods of time, and need to get used to them gradually, and probably stay on a program of wearing it. So, while I personally did not keep it up, I give it a thumbs up.

Apr. 22, 2009, 01:52 AM
I use one occasionally to help remind me to keep better posture- but I do find that I have to wear it over a thin shirt or it will rub under my arms. I've tried different adjustments to no avail, it would still rub, but it works fine over a shirt. I've never shown in it.

Apr. 22, 2009, 08:56 AM
I have two adult students who both use this device regularly.
One, because she was having some real pain issues caused by an injury in her uppermost armpit area, and the shoulders-back really relieved the pain.
LO and behold, she was also able to better balance her 3/4 Percheron around turns and to the jumps, and they were both remarkably straighter.
Now, mind you, I told her that we were to use this as a "lightbulb moment" and not as a crutch to keep her from developing the proper habits so she could carry herself that way.
It really helped her to understand how to close at the hip slightly, rather than tip over in the shoulders, to follow her horse's head and neck without losing balance.
She still uses it about once a week to help remind her to keep that one particular collarbone/shoulder/arm stretched BACK.

The other student was almost the other way around. We used the first rider's successes and lightbulb moments to realize how much she(th second rider) was collapsing her upper body and lower back during transitions on the flat. The Shoulders-back thingy made a huge difference in the response of this rider's horse. She doesn't use it all that often, but it was a wonderful teaching tool for her.

As for actually wearing it at a horse show..... well...... to each his own.
Can't be any worse than people who pad the back of thier huntcoats so that it APPEARS that the rider has their shoulders further back than they do, or any other asthetic means to a better first impression with the judge.
Will never replace proper riding or posture, but can be a good reminder.

Apr. 22, 2009, 09:54 AM
I got one a longggg time ago and I can't stand it. It rubs badly and I find it very uncomfortable. After I bought it, I decided that sticking a crop behind my back was better than that! I personally wouldn't recommend it but if you really can't just think "shoulders back" than maybe give it a try.

Apr. 22, 2009, 11:07 AM
I also have a shoulders back, but no longer use it. It was so painful and I would get that tingly sensation in my fingers. That said my trainer said it made a huge difference.

Apr. 22, 2009, 12:37 PM
I use mine all the time, never go in a flat eq class without it. I don't see any difference "ethically" with wearing a SB or a heavy duty sports bra. There's a lighter version that I love. I highly recommend it!

How is the lighter version different from the original? Is one more geared toward a certain level of use than the other? As in moderate adjustment reminder vs. substantial adjustment reminder?

Apr. 22, 2009, 12:42 PM
All these responses have made me wonder . . . do you think it would be helpful for someone who sits slumped over a keyboard for hours?

Apr. 22, 2009, 03:00 PM
You mean me?? That and a balance ball and your posture would be perrrrrrfect.

Tex Mex
Apr. 22, 2009, 03:08 PM
The light version is a really soft thin mesh material and the straps are a softer material so it's perfect for hot weather. Also, I used to use mine when I drove for long hours, and even wore it to work under my suit to help my back. I know people use if while gardening, doing housework, etc.

Apr. 23, 2009, 08:56 AM
Katie16, my one client with the injury BEGAN using her ShouldersBack at work because the pain was at it's worst when she was at her computer!! She would literally put it on and sigh in relief. Her Chiro AND her Doctor recommended she use it at work until the pain went away completely.
Apparently it was the little muscle group used to move the mouse back and forth while sitting at the computer that flared up from the injury. Helped her a lot!