The Kansas City Royals have been described as the underdogs in this year’s World Series against the San Francisco Giants.
But after a stunning performance by Royals pitcher Greg Holland in Game 3 on Saturday, San Jose Mercury News sports columnist Mark Purdy declared that the tables have turned. He credited Holland, the Royals’ pitching closer, for providing “some terrific drama” as three players went directly back to the dugout out on just eight Holland pitches.
Holland has a secret power source: He dons the AlignMed Posture Shirt each time he takes to the mound.
“He won’t go to the mound without it,” Holland’s doctor, Craig Morgan, told Healthline. “And he is the number one closer in all of baseball.”
Morgan also works as a consultant for Major League Baseball and is the team doctor for the Blue Rocks of Wilmington, Delaware, the Royals’ minor league affiliate.
Holland, like so many professional baseball pitchers, suffers from problems with his scapula, or shoulder blade. “A thrower by nature will have this problem because they have to throw so violently,” AlignMed founder Bill Schultz said. “Everyone’s career is stopped after all the stuff related to picking up a six-ounce ball and violently throwing it.”
The Royals have purchased close to 100 posture shirts so far, Schultz said. The San Francisco Giants use them, too. Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong wore one when he pitched on Saturday night, Schultz said.
The shirt, which can be purchased online for less than $100, builds on an old standby that sports doctors have used for years — skin taping. Taping is used to support an injured body part and restrict unhealthy movements.
Schultz said that while there’s “little to no clinical data” proving that skin taping works, it has ballooned into a multibillion-dollar industry.
AlignMed was born from Schultz’s own experience with pain, he said. A medical team treating him suggested that the effect of skin taping could be achieved by wearing certain clothing. “I had been with the biggest experts in the world who didn’t say that to me,” Schultz told Healthline. “I thought, ‘Is this guy a quack?’”
An Alternative to Addictive Painkillers
But Schultz said he found relief through clothing. His problem with pain was the result of his poor posture, he said. The AlignMed shirt uses its trademark NeuroBand technology — internal elastic bands, basically — to stimulate muscles and align joints.
Dr. Christian Gonzalez, the incoming president of the American Academy of Pain Management, endorses the AlignMed product line. He said alternative measures to managing pain are desperately needed, not only given the growing problem of opiate addiction, but also because of a lack of access to those medications that has stemmed from efforts to control the epidemic.
Gonzalez said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the nation’s largest healthcare insurer, is looking into less invasive and more preventive measures for pain management. “The AlignMed outfits are the beginning of this trend,” he told Healthline.
Gonzalez said the shirts stimulate muscles, and can cause some muscle fatigue. “When you wear it you’re more relaxed and you don’t realize two hours have gone by,” he told Healthline. “For those with issues of posture, and who slouch, it keeps the shoulders pulled back.”
He said it’s not a good idea to wear the shirt for more than a couple of hours at a time, however.
The AlignMed Posture Shirt, as well as its bra and jacket models, are registered with the FDA as medical devices. Many insurers already pay for them, Schultz said.
When solutions are inexpensive, and patient satisfaction with a product is high, insurers are usually quick to get on board with product reimbursement, Gonzalez said.
Schultz attended a workman’s compensation conference in Chicago earlier this week and said his products were well received. These days, most workman’s compensation claims come not from hard labor, but from repetitive motion injuries suffered by office workers who use computers, he said.
The shirts can help more than just baseball players and office workers, according to Schultz. They can also help relieve pain for people suffering from arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.
It is important to maintain good posture so that the spine can adequately distribute pressure, Gonzalez said.
Nine small clinical trials, most of them unpublished, have been conducted to demonstrate AlignMed’s effectiveness on everyone from computer users to baseball pitchers to skiers.
Pictured: Elena Grant, Dr. Armia Abdo, and Owen McKibbin. Photos courtesy of AlignMed.