Back braces for lower back pain can provide temporary relief and support for someone with a painful back.
In the healthcare world, we usually do not recommend choosing a back brace for lower back pain as a first line of treatment. Back braces can definitely reduce pain, but they also carry the risk of dependence (more on that below). However, for manual workers and active individuals who are currently missing out, a back brace for lower back pain might be worth considering.
Firstly, though, what is a back brace for lower back pain?
A back brace usually takes the form of a neoprene belt or support that secures around the lower back and provides compression and support. A back brace for lower back pain typically restricts movement and adds an extra layer of stability to a painful lower back.
For most people with lower back pain, certain movements (whether that be bending forward, leaning to one side or twisting) cause worsening pain. It can sometimes be difficult to avoid these uncomfortable positions; that’s where a back brace for lower back pain can help.
A back brace can help to limit the amount of time you spend in aggravating position and keep your spine in ‘neutral’ for as much of the time as possible.
Who might benefit from a back brace for lower back pain?
- People with back pain who have occupations that involve heavy lifting
- People who have back pain and want to regain their confidence into the gym
- People who sit on heavy machinery for a lot of the day and have back pain (like construction workers)
- People who do a lot of twisting in their job and have developed back pain
- People who just want some temporary relief from a “locked up” lower back
What are the dangers of back braces for lower back pain?
Back braces for lower back pain may seem like a good idea for everyone with this problem. However, this is certainly not the case. They do carry some dangers and they need serious consideration before you choose to begin wearing one.
Firstly, it’s important to understand that we have a set of muscles in our midriff – called our “core” – which help to stabilise the spine and keep us upright. When we introduce a back brace for lower back pain, what we’re effectively doing is substituting our core muscles and replacing them with the brace. This can lead to our core muscles becoming weak and lazy over time and actually worsen the problem in the long-run.
Some people get to a stage where they are incredibly weak without their back brace, even when the back pain has gone, meaning they find it difficult to ever get rid of the back brace in fear of their back “going” again.
Now, that’s not to say that a back brace for lower back pain is always a bad idea. If you are careful with how much you wear the back brace, you can limit the effect of muscle loss. Plus, for those of us who have occupations that involve heavy lifting, a back brace can help us to continue our daily tasks with less fear of pulling something in the back again and again.
If my clients ask me about a back brace for lower back pain, I usually ask them about their occupation, how long they are planning to wear it for, and what the plan is for eventually getting rid of it! After all, you probably don’t want to wear the back brace for the rest of your life. You should always have a plan for keeping the core muscles strong so you can eventually come out of your back brace safely.
However, if you just plan on wearing your back brace of lower back pain when you have some heavy lifting to do, there are some good options on the market – and I’m going to share some of the best with you today.
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Important notice: Please check with your healthcare provider before starting use of a back brace for lower back pain.
Best Back Brace for Lower Back Pain (in no particular order)
#1 – Clever Yellow Back Support Belt
Key benefit: Medical-grade back brace for lower back pain, scoliosis and sciatica
This back brace for lower back pain from Clever Yellow is the ultimate all-rounder and is the only back brace on this list that is officially certified as medical grade.
You can see the self-fastening, double adjustable pull strap feature, allowing a fastening force in two directions. This should provide superior stability to just one direction.
This back brace for lower back pain boasts over 15,000 reviews, and a high average review score. Users report that it doesn’t generally cause your back to get too sweaty, despite the fabric material, meaning it is likely breathable.
This product is very reasonable priced for a good quality back brace for lower back pain.
#2 – FREETOO Back Support Brace
Key benefit: Extra support straps in this back brace for lower back pain
This FREETOO back brace for lower back pain differs to the above model in that it has 6 straps to increase support of the lower back.
You can see that the smaller straps provide several angles of support which add to the “braced” sensation you’ll enjoy when wearing it.
While this brace looks as though it may come with the strongest supporting features for daily use, it’s worth noting how careful you need to be when wearing a brace that provides this much support. Be careful not to solely rely on this back brace for lower back pain as your core muscles will suffer as a result from daily use.
This back brace for lower back pain is easily washable and is incredibly strong, despite being primarily fabric-made. There are some mentions in the reviews of it being difficult to undo this belt if you suffer from hand arthritis – so bear that in mind when choosing.
This brace is the #1 bestseller in the Waist Support category on Amazon and boasts 1,800 ratings and a high average review score.
#3 – Ortorex Lumbar Support Belt
Key benefit: For lower back support on a budget
This would be the go-to model for someone who gets rare but quite severe muscle spasms in their lower back that take a few days to pass – you likely don’t need a highly supportive model, just one that can help you move a little more freely during an episode.
As this brace is also smaller than the previous two examples, it fits snugly under your clothes without being visible in many cases – perfect if you don’t want others to know you’re wearing one at work or in the gym.
At less than the price of lunch in the UK, I don’t think you’ll find a more reasonably priced model. The reviews are positive, too.
#4 – SZ-Climax Lower Back Brace
Key benefit: Contoured especially for women with lower back pain
With 4 straps and strong velcro supports, this back brace from lower back pain is a great option for those looking for more support, but women in particular might benefit the most from this piece of kit.
The contour shape of the brace matches the natural hourglass shape made by a woman’s hips, far better so than the other models in this article.
The cost of this back brace for lower back pain falls into the mid-low price range. Scanning the reviews, there are plenty of ladies who have left positive feedback and the brace comes out with a high star rating.
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#5 – SZ-Climax Lumbar Support Belt
Key benefit: Best for heavy lifting occupations
This SZ-Climax back brace for lower back pain boasts 5 detachable steel spring stays, making the support it provides the toughest of the lot.
It comes with positioning centred on the lumbar vertebrae, targeting the lumbar regions on both sides of the spine for added support and restriction of movement.
The support level provided here is adjudged to be “professional” standard: meaning that you should be confident of the support it provides you even in tough, manual professions.
Naturally for a high-quality product, the price is a little higher at just under £30, but there are added features in this brace that you won’t find elsewhere, such as the removable springs that run parallel to the lumbar musculature.
The ratings of this product average at 4.5/5 but there are some true advocates of this product in the review section.
#6 – AQF 4″ Leather Weight Lifting Belt Padded Lumbar Back Support
Key benefit: Best lightweight gym belt for lower back pain
As a gym goer myself, I can speak from experience of using these belts for lifting weights. They certainly do help to stabilise the spine and add a sense of security during deadlifts and other heavy activities.
I wouldn’t recommend a belt like this to all gym goers who are choosing to lift weights, but if you have a back this is prone to pulls and tweaks, this lightweight model from AQF Fitness Gear might suit you well.
I know how common back injuries are in the gym population, and wearing belts like these can help to reduce risk on heavy lifts. This option is light weight and smaller than the other belts in its category, giving you slightly less support (which means the core muscles work a little harder).
At less than £20 to buy, this does seem like a good starter-level option for those prone to back injuries but still looking to lift some heavier weights.
#7 – RDX 6-Inch Leather Belt for Weight Lifting
Key benefit: Most supportive gym belt for lower back pain
Similar to the back brace for lower back pain in the gym above, this belt provides mid-riff support but on a more substantial level.
Whereas the brace above provides 4 inches of cover, this one provides 6 inches – which will translate to big difference when lifting. If you’ve suffered a significant back injury, such as a herniated disc, and you’re looking for some support to get you back in the gym, this might be a better option.
The main issue with this belt will be over-reliance – it isn’t a good idea to wear this belt all the time in the gym, as the level of support will translate to a less active core, and lead to global weakness as a result over time.
So, those are my top recommended back braces for lower back pain. The key take home message from this article should be that these braces are not suitable for everyone with lower back pain, and even for people who do wear them they should be worn sparingly.
Here’s the summary of my recommendations:
- Most supportive belt: SZ-Climax Lumbar Support Belt
- Best on a budget: Supportiback Premium Back Support Belt
- Best for heavy lifting occupations: SZ-Climax Lumbar Support Belt
- Most researched and medical-grade: Clever Yellow Back Support Belt
- Best for women: SZ-Climax Lower Back Belt
- Best in the gym: RDZ 6-Inch Leather Belt
As always when starting a new regime for your back pain or sciatica, make sure you consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before commencing.
Thanks as always for reading, and I hope some of the information in this article has been useful to you!