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LAVERA STEWARTEditor-in-Chief of the Approved By Coach
Who Should Wear a Back Brace?
To clear the air from the start of this article we do not recommend that you go out and buy a back support brace without having a doctor prescribe one for you. If you are recovering from an injury or suffer from back pain the first thing you need to do is consult your local practitioner. With this out of the way, we can now focus on back braces, the area that they need to work on, the materials that are recommended and the design of the back brace.
The whole goal of the back brace is to relieve your core muscles that are located on your back and spine thus allowing them to relax and initiate healing. If you have a professional fit back brace that you will benefit from a safe, non-invasive method of treating your back injury and making certain that chronic conditions do not degenerate. If you are having issues with your elbows while playing tennis you could also look into a tennis elbow brace. Let’s take a more in-depth look at everything you need to know about wearing a back brace in the rest of this article.
How Does a Back Brace Work?
The main purpose of a back brace is to minimize or even eliminate back pain via offering support to the muscles and bones located in your lower back. When the strain is removed from the muscles and bones the body can fully relax and the healing process can start. The lower back brace also has a role in limiting the possible range of motion of your spine so that your odds of aggravating the issue become slim to none. You can expect to be recommended a back brace if you are suffering from both acute and chronic back pain and you want to relieve lower back pain. As a rule of thumb if you have a severe back problem you will receive a more rigid and restricting back brace. The most rigid back braces will take some time getting used to because they will lower the possible range of motions you are accustomed to similar to an ankle brace.
How to Wear a Back Brace Properly
The most important aspect when it comes to how to wear a back brace is making sure that you select the appropriate size for your body. To achieve this you simply have to measure your lower back area and match it up to the sizes that you were given by the doctor on the specific model you chose. If you happen to have a larger mid-section you could consider going for a one or two sizes larger back brace in order to increase your comfort. Look for models that have adjustable posterior support, shoulder straps that can also be adjusted and an abdominal compression system to maximize the adjustability.
Make sure that you are standing when you get the measures because otherwise you could choose a back brace that is too small and this will, in turn, hinder your healing process and even make it longer and increase lower lumbar pain. Make sure that while you are standing your stomach is a natural position and comfortable but do not let the stomach hang unnecessarily over your belt. This way you can be certain that you will select the best back braces possible.
A well fitted back brace should be able to cover your lower back as well as your tailbone. If you do happen to notice that it does not reach all the way through that means you will need a larger size back brace. Using a back brace that is too small will be uncomfortable and will interfere with the healing process and not relieve back pain.
It is very important to make sure that the lumbar back support is worn properly. Either having the brace too snug or too loose will have unwanted effects on your back. This will not only cause pain and discomfort but will also make the healing process much lengthier than expected.
In some cases, your doctor will recommend that your couple of ice packs with your back brace. This will happen when there is an inflammation and your body needs to heal that region faster. You will have to place the icepack on your affected area and afterward place the back brace on top to hold the ice packs in place. The ice can numb the pain and greatly reduce inflammation and diminish lower back discomfort. This is also a great method if you want to figure out how to stop back spasms.
How to Put On a Back Brace
In order to maximize the effects of the back brace, you need to how to properly put on a back brace. If placed incorrectly it can have unforeseen negative effects so here are the steps on how to wear a back brace properly. Pay extra attention to putting on a back brace for lifting.
- The first thing you need to consider is to make sure that you have purchased the correct back brace. The most important element of a back brace is the support belt and you need to make sure that it is the right size. Many people make the common mistake of measuring the size of their abdomen but you should instead measure the size of your waist to help with lower back pain.
- The next step is to place the back brace on your back and if you purchased the correct unit you should have a support belt that comes with two side flaps. The flaps can be secured using Velcro and you should take both of the side flaps and place them as close to the edge of your belt as possible. When doing so make sure that they aren’t too close to each other because this will make further adjustments much more difficult and the fit will prove to be too snug in the long run.
- A major problem you will stumble upon with your new back brace is to identify the center of the unit. Modern braces to, however, come with flaps that have signs to point at the center of the brace. If you do indeed come equipped with flaps then you should adjust the brace accordingly.
Wearing a Back Brace All Day
It is simply not feasible to wear a back brace the entire day. If you want to figure out how to help lower back pain you need to know when to wear and when to remove the back brace. And more importantly you cannot rely solely on the back brace all the time. The purpose of a back brace is to aid the weakened core muscles not to replace them altogether. Try to do as many tasks as you can independently only use the back brace when you need extra support. Never wear your back brace while showering or taking a bath.
The material used in the back brace will get soaking wet and that could lead to severe irritation. Make sure to never borrow or lend a back brace. You might think that because a relative has stopped using their brace you could just use their old one. However, keep in mind that their brace is simply not designed for your body and needs and instead of saving money you might end up being forced to pay for a surgery.
Sleeping With a Back Brace
The short and direct answer is NO; you should not sleep with your back brace on. There could be some isolated situations where your doctor might recommend that you sleep with the back brace on. There are certain scoliosis braces that are designed to be worn when sleeping. A back support brace can help people that feel severe pain when they roll over in bed during the night and the said pain might wake them up. Only sleep with the back brace on if your doctor has recommended that you do so and follow the instructions on how to use a back brace.
How to Care for a Back Brace
You should look at your back brace as it was a normal piece of clothing. You won’t be able to place it in the washing machine but you can thoroughly clean your best posture corrector with mild soap and water. Before putting it on you need to make sure that it is perfectly dry. Rubbing alcohol can be used in order to destroy bacteria that might have accumulated on the brace or to remove soap residue. From time to time you can inspect the back brace to see if it has any signs of wear. If you consider that repairs are in order or you would need a new back brace then make an appointment with your doctor.
Disadvantages of Wearing a Back Brace
There are a few harsh and ugly facts that come with using a back brace that we will not ignore in this article. The more you use a back brace the weaker your muscles get over time. The body will start to become dependent on the support it receives from the brace and the natural strength and stability of the muscles in your lower back will slowly wane. This could cause you to get tired really fast or be forced to adopt bad posture. If used excessively the back braces could pose a higher risk of future injury than compared to not wearing a brace. If you are a fitness enthusiast you could also look into a knee brace for running.
Another essential aspect that people tend to get wrong is the fact that the back brace is not a valid replacement for getting actual treatment. This is especially relevant in more severe issues like lumbar disc bulges or severe degenerative disc disease. If you need to figure out how to relieve back muscle pain visit your doctor and describe your symptoms.
Over short periods of time using a back brace as advised by your doctor can be very beneficial. If you plan on using the back brace for extended periods of time be aware that this decision could end up biting you right below the back brace. If you do have a brace only wear it when your body tells you to and do no wear it all times. If you are still in pain even when you have the back brace on then head over to your doctor and seek treatment. For other health and fitness, articles visit ApprovedByCoach.com more often. Please share your experiences with back braces good or bad in order to help our growing community. Did the first back brace you acquire satisfy your needs? Do you have any tips for someone that is just getting their first back brace? Comment below.