What is the best back support? The Pain Guru reviews how to choose a back support belt.
Back support belts which are often also called back braces come in a variety of designs and materials depending upon the job for which they were designed for. In this back support review I will help to explain all there is to know about back supports and help you to decide which type of support belt is best suited to your needs. After all with so many types of back braces to choose from it can be difficult to know where to start.
So lets get started..
Back supports are a great way to not only help protect your back from injury but they can also play an active part in your back injury recovery and assisting with training your posture to become more efficient helping to prevent further injury.
Choosing the right support doesn’t need to be a difficult decision.
Firstly consider what you need the support for. Is it for work, sport or hobbies such as gardening or DIY?
TIP: Choose darker colours if your belt is going to be worn in a dirty work environment.
Most modern supports can be hand washed and many now have the benefit of incorporating modern moisture wicking anti-bacterial properties within the construction material which helps keep your skin fresh and your support hygienic. The LumbaMed range incorporates a Clima Fresh antibacterial system. This is of great benefit when the support is worn directly against your skin. Our Ergodyne back supports are designed for the safe use in the work place and incorporate many safety features such as non-conductive stays.
What qualities are you looking for in the support? Is it warmth, compression, comfort, stability, flexibility or many of those?
Neoprene is traditionally used to help keep tissue warm and with its elastic type properties supports using this material are great when flexibility is important, whereas other supports will use less elastic properties and incorporate supportive stays within the belt to help limit spinal movement which is especially important following more serious injuries that require a degree of movement limitation to assist with pain relief and injury recovery.
TIP: Look for supports with options for more than a single fastening when increased compression is required.
Why are you getting a back support?
Is it because of a current or previous injury, arthritis, or simply a preventative measure to help protect your back from an injury? If you are looking to improve your posture then look to supports that are designed for this purpose. A simple but effective support for the upper back can not only help with postural neck, shoulder and upper back pain but over a period of time can also help improve your posture through muscle conditioning. We stock the leading market brands for posture supports.
TIP: An improved posture not only looks good but also significantly reduces muscle stress and fatigue.
Chronic conditions are normally those that have continued beyond the initial injury phase and although the pain and discomfort may no longer be deemed acute your back will still be suffering. An injury at the initial and sometimes referred to as the acute injury stage will benefit from both the compression offered by a support and by cold/ice therapy to help reduce inflammation and ease the pain.
However, many of us suffer from chronic back and joint pain that might be the result of a ‘crumbling’ disc injury, joint wear and tear or spinal conditions including degenerative disc disease and arthritis. Such long term conditions may vary in response to the level of activity undertaken. Wearing a support whilst performing levels of activity that might otherwise aggravate your pain can be seen to be preventative. Your back support will act like an external set of abdominal and back muscles and help reduce the physical strain on your back.
Chronic conditions are typically responsive to heat and warmth and there are now back and joint supports that help keep the muscles and joints warm in various ways. Some supports may use heat pads that are contained within the support, for example the Lumbamed Plus, or contain a clever material that reflects back your body’s own heat in order to maintain localised heat as seen within the Fireactiv range of supports. Magnetic supports are also extremely popular with those who unfortunately have underlying arthritis and although the research and clinical studies are mixed one cannot argue with those that swear by them for traditional pain relief.
TIP: When measuring your waist size for a support consider measuring over a layer of clothes.
Back Supports during Pregnancy.
Pregnancy can bring about additional stress and strain over the lower back, sacro-iliac joints and pelvis particularly during the later stages. Even if you have never suffered lower back pain pregnancy may change that simply due to the rapid compensatory changes that occur across the lower back in response to the back’s efforts in balancing your spine against the growing bump. The difficulty with pregnancy is that you are limited to what forms of pain relief are on offer. Even if you have used pain killers in the past most drugs are contraindicated during pregnancy. A good quality maternity back support is designed specifically to help support and stabilise the lower back but additionally to offer adjustable support for the abdomen as the pregnancy develops and the bump grows. This is achieved through design features such as the angle of the supportive straps that will differ from a typical back support. We offer maternity support belts that offer a variety of features designed to offer maximum effective support and comfort.
TIP: Prevention is better than a cure
Many people I know that have bought a back support do so after a serious / lower back injury and do not want the pain, time away from work and inconvenience of hurting their back again. Most lower back pain sufferers report that using a lumbar back brace can be a real life saver and instantly and dramatically relieve lower back pain without medication. A lumbar support belt can help with many causes of existing back pain. Many sufferers of sciatica, muscle strains, back spasms, disc pain, trapped nerves, spinal arthritis and postural related back pain report a significant improvement in their pain and condition with the correct use of a back support. Others simply use a support so that they can go about their life, work or hobby with minimal fuss and reaction to their chosen activity.
When researching the internet you will undoubtedly find contradictory information about the subject matter and the use of back supports is no different. Consider the following points I have put together when considering purchasing a back support:
Most lower back pain sufferers report that using a lumbar back brace can be a real life saver and instantly and dramatically relieve lower back pain – Without medication.
A back support brace can:
- Be a real life saver for people who can’t just stop all activities and rest until their lower back pain is resolved.
Self-employed? Then you will understand this point and those with unsympathetic bosses will do also.
- Can help keep you at work and thus avoiding time off and unpaid sick leave.
Sometimes we just cannot avoid back aggravating awkward or repetitive tasks as part of our work. Wearing a support can act as a preventative measure.
- Help reduce or prevent injury or stirring up old injuries when doing prolonged, awkward or heavy activities.
You know from past experience that more than an hour in the garden or on the golf course or mucking out the stables can send your back into spasm and pain!
Click to see our full range of back supports
However, you may have also read or heard that some people are worried that by wearing a back support it may weaken their back.
When your abdominal and core muscles are weak or tired out there is a much greater chance of injury as your lower back is not getting the protective support offered by these muscles. Your back support when worn correctly acts as an external set of supportive muscles. However, over use of a back support should be avoided and safe lifting techniques combined with regular exercise to include core muscle strengthening should be part of the management of back pain and the prevention of back injuries.
The Pain Guru Concludes:
If your back support belt can prevent time off work through injury, help you return to work more quickly, reduce your pain as you go about your daily life then they have to be a good thing.
However, they most certainly do not give you the green light to use your back incorrectly. Neither should they give you the perception that you can lift more! Wearing a back support will not prevent injury if you are lifting too much or lifting incorrectly.
Guide Lines For Using A Back Support Belt
- Be sure that your belt is properly sized, is comfortable and is appropriate for your tasks.
- Use your back belt together with the practice of correct and safe body mechanics and posture.
- Wear your back belt when necessary, but as little as possible. Tighten your belt only during the strenuous part of an activity. For light tasks loosen the belt. Remove your back brace while at home or on lunch breaks.
- Practise safe lifting and handling techniques and do not rely on your belt to increase your lifting capabilities.
- Always ensure you that have a qualified diagnosis for the cause of your back pain.
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