Should I wear a back support?

Picture of a lady wearing a back-support device

This question is asked a lot by low-back pain sufferers, especially manual workers.

Back-supports can help. They do this by off-loading the effort of supporting the painful spine from the struggling back muscles to the pelvis and hips.

And In some types of spinal problem, the entire muscle group of the low back goes into a kind of protective and panicky spasm.

For these kinds of patients particularly, the compressive support they get from a back support device does seem to calm the muscles.

As a result, they feel more comfortable and able to move around more.

A problem develops if the back support is used too much. The benefits get outweighed by the cost of the muscles getting more and more lazy and confused.

It’s a tricky balance to strike. Use them, but not too much or too long, and don’t wear them when you are sitting or lying down.

There is one exception to this – the so called ‘pelvic’ or ‘SI’ belts. These are much shorter (from top to bottom). By circling the sacral area they don’t involve the lumbar spine at all. An example of this would be the well-known Serola belt.

For these types of belts, which aim to offload sore pelvic ligaments, the disadvantages of the lumbar belts (namely, that they make low back muscles ‘lazy’) do not apply.