PostureNow entrepreneurs Matt Franklin and Mike Lane were funded by Mark Cuban who stood up straight and made a deal to help the Portland, Oregon area businessmen with their posture correction device. I asked a Chiropractor to review their product and pitch from a professional perspective. Dr Berthiaume is a graduate of the National College of Chiropractic and has been a practicing Chiropractor for over 15 years.
A Professional review of PostureNow
I am Roland F. Berthiaume, DC, a Chiropractor from Springfield, MA and inventor of Lo-Bak TRAX. The Shark Tank Blog has asked me for my input on the latest episode of Shark Tank, specifically on the pitch by Mike Lane and Matt Franklin of PostureNow.
I have to first say, that I am an avid Shark Tank watcher and have applied to enter the tank back in season 1 and again for season 4. I have not been accepted. Some of my initial skepticism may have been tainted by my jealousy that another product for the back made it in and from the pre-show tweets saying this was the most obnoxious presentation yet. Upon review, I have definitely seen worse products/pitches and much ruder entrepreneurs.
Poor Posture is a National Epidemic
Mike and Matt are spot on with their assessment that poor posture is an epidemic. All you have to do is look at our school age children, most have rounded shoulders and slumped forward heads typically seen in the elderly population of my generation. Increased computer use, texting, smart phones and video games are all promoters of poor posture but are used by almost every child and adult today. This is bad for all but even more so for the kids and is going to lead to terrible postural problems as they age and increased episodes of back pain, compression fractures and even carpal tunnel.
Their device, PostureNow is simple and easy to use and I can see it being effective at causing people to straighten up, with chest out, shoulders back as we all have heard, improves posture. That assertion, again is spot on. I do not like the idea of a brace to have you sit up properly with good posture, a better way is to do it on your own, but with that said, we know most don’t do on their own, what is right for them.
Watch out for Superman Syndrome
Braces, splints etc are notorious for causing people to have the superman syndrome, meaning they think because they have a brace, they won’t have to practice good posture habits because the brace will save them. A perfect example is Home Depot. Remember when Home Depot first opened and every employee from the cashiers to the janitors had back braces/belts on? Now look at Home Depot, you don’t see the back braces/ belts anymore..why? They found wearing braces actually weakens the back by not allowing the muscles to work properly. They also discovered people who wore braces tended to abandon proper bending/lifting habits because they felt invincible with back braces on (superman syndrome) and they actually had more back pain incidence at Home depot because of the braces.
Beware of Medical Claims
Two professional problems I see that can really turn into issues down the road that I didn’t see addressed by the Sharks or the entrepreneurs are the medical claims and the side effects. I’m not sure if PostureNow is classified by the FDA as a medical device. My experience has shown the only way to know for sure is to ask them through a formal 513(g) request for information. The medical claims made: “Look Taller, Thinner, Healthier, Sexier and More attractive” are at best, bad claims and at worst false medical claims. The FDA doesn’t look kindly on these types of claims, and this would be one area where I would be cautious going forward if I was Mark Cuban or PostureNow.
The second troublesome area I can see is side effects. Simple rash/irritation is possible with any brace worn directly on the skin for prolonged amounts of time, so I wouldn’t recommend that be done, but the more troublesome side effect I can see from PostureNow is the possibility of increased carpal tunnel episodes. There is a phenomenon known as “Double Crush Syndrome” which can cause carpal tunnel like symptoms and Chiropractors are very familiar with it because we see a lot of whiplash victims who suffer from this. In this example, irritation of the nerves in the neck result in carpal tunnel like complaints in the hands. PostureNow will result in irritation of the nerves that traverse the carpal tunnel because of the direct compression of the biceps area in the arms. The tingling felt by carpal tunnel patients is due to the lack of blood flow to the nerves secondary to compression. PostureNow compresses arterial flow to the fingers, especially when doing repetitive, fine motor work like typing on a computer(which requires increase blood flow to the finger muscles).
In their defense, they do recommend to only wear PostureNow for 20 to 30 minutes at a time on their website and this is correct and proper advice. However, as we mentioned previously, people do not follow advice and I can see people wearing this all day at their computers and thinking I’m safe because I have a brace on. Then when they go to their doctor for carpal tunnel symptoms they will not put the 2 together and it may result in an unnecessary surgery??
Solution: I would strongly recommend they put a clear warning on their website and maybe even on the product that it shouldn’t be worn for more than 30 minutes at a time.
Does PostureNow work?
In summary, I think PostureNow works. I would check with the FDA asap about medical device classification and medical claims. I would also assume people will wear this for extended periods of times and strongly recommend against that.
I do not think their pitch was as obnoxious as billed, as I said previously, I have seen much worse. I think Mike was ok when he cut Kevin off and said, “no way”!! There is nothing wrong with that, we have all seen the Sharks do the same. I do think he got a little too excited and got too aggressive arguing with Daymond. When you’re asking for money, and one of the better Sharks on the panel is talking, do not interrupt, argue and be obnoxious.
Matt spoke too soon, almost trying to move on, not taking time to consider Roberts’s offer and that really got to Robert. Mike did try to make good with Robert and even Daymond but it was too late.
Ultimately, it didn’t matter because I think they got a very good deal with Mark Cuban and their aggressive negotiating didn’t hurt them. Good luck PostureNow!