As a guy who has dealt with back problems for many years, I have tried a lot of different treatment options. Today I want to take a more in-depth look into back braces and help you decide if using a lower back support is right for you. My goal is to help you answer the question “do back braces work?”
My back problems started about 20 years ago and kind of just appeared out of nowhere. There was never a traumatic event that sent my pain meter through the roof. Gradually I started having shooting pain down my right leg into my calf.
Even after having surgery in 1999 my back problems have persisted. In 2015 I had become kind of reckless with my workout routine, focusing more on the amount of weight, not really caring about form or the effect on my body.
Anyway, long story short, I suffered a pretty bad back injury. I ended up with a blown disc and sprained my pelvis. Through my 6 month recovery, a back brace provided some help along the way.
Do back braces work for low back pain?
This question will take some time to answer, so hang in there with me. To start out let’s talk about how a back brace can help.
Back braces can help in the following ways:
- Provide support – A back brace can help promote healing when your low back is not stable due to an injury. The brace provides stability which helps in the healing process. The added support can also help to prevent future injuries.
- Redistribute your bodyweight – This helps to reduce pressure on the joints and disc spaces that make up your spine. This was a big one for me when I was recovering from spinal stenosis. My brace helped take some of the pressure off my low back and distribute weight around my hips.
- Reduce your range of motion – Again, this was part of the reason I wore a back brace, to limit the amount of movement allowing my low back time to heal correctly. This was also key for me since wearing a brace allowed me to do some exercise, limiting my range of motion, helping to prevent further injury.
My experience using a back brace
Using a back brace provided me with some pain relief and support so that I could exercise which was ultimately what helped out the most in my recovery. I did not wear the brace all the time but did wear it for a few hours per day until I was on my way to recovery.
My chiropractor explained to me that wearing a back brace in moderation can be very beneficial, but you don’t want to become reliant on it. A back brace can give you a false sense of security but can be very helpful to get you moving in the right direction when it comes to recovering from a back injury.
A back brace can be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan and are typically not a permanent solution. But, a lumbar support can help to provide support for your lower back and allow it to heal as it did for me.
Types of back braces
A lot of braces on the market are very flexible and will not impede your movements. These back supports are designed to move with you and are usually made from a breathable fabric.
Some of the supports will have rigid “spines” in the back of the brace that provides additional support. Braces can often be worn underneath your clothing as well. A more rigid brace would be used for severe back pain, or potentially after surgery.
Some braces will come with heat and/or cold packs as well. This can be great if you are trying to reduce swelling or increase blood flow to the area.
The brace I own is soft, comfortable to wear, provides the support I need, yet doesn’t get in my way. What I mean by that, is the brace provides me with support, helps to limit my range of motion but doesn’t poke me in the back or belly unnecessarily. My brace does what it is supposed to do.
How to use a back brace
You want to make sure that you have a back support that fits your body correctly. You can have a custom made brace, but you can also buy an over the counter variety. Working with your doctor can help you choose the right one.
The brace should be snug, but not too tight. There are often different sizes available as well. Using the brace in conjunction with a complete treatment plan will help you achieve the best results. Basically, you want a brace that fits your body and will not cause you pain or discomfort when you wear it.
Conclusion: Do back braces work?
In certain situations, back braces can provide some pain relief and help you to recover from an injury. In my personal experience, I used a brace when I was recovering from spinal stenosis. The brace allowed me to do some exercise while helping to limit my range of motion.
A couple of things to remember if you are considering using a back brace:
- Work with your doctor to make sure a brace is right for you
- Make sure you buy a back brace that fits you properly
- Always use proper lifting technique when wearing a brace, or you can put yourself at higher risk of injury
Back braces can play a role with back pain if used properly. I used a brace during my recovery, and I use it occasionally if I feel the need.
I hope this post answered some questions and I thank you for taking the time to stop by today. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.