Finding the right back pain treatment is absolutely critical for those moments when your pain is flaring up and your mobility is limited!

Once you’ve taken your anti-inflammatory, applied the pain-relieving cream, and taken a walk around, how else can you reduce the pain? Most people typically turn to the one thing that will provide support for their lower back: a back brace.

Back braces are designed to provide excellent support for your lower back, but do they make a good back pain treatment? Below, we’ll dive into what makes back braces good, when they’re useful, when you might want to avoid them, and everything else you need to know!

Back Braces as a Back Pain Treatment

Back braces are supportive devices that feature either compression bands, rigid material (plastic or metal), or a combination of both. Most back braces are prefabricated and sold in any sporting goods store, though you can find some that are custom-fitted to your specific physiology.

Most people use back braces for one of three things:

  1. Providing support during physical activity. Many weight trainees use them when lifting heavy weights in an exercise that places strain on the lower back—for example, Deadlifts, Squats, or Weighted Lunges. The brace provides additional support for the lower back muscles and a solid platform for the muscles to “push” against, increasing stability and reducing injury risk.

  2. Correcting posture issues. People who have poor posture when sitting or standing will often use corrective back braces to align their spine, prevent shoulder hunching, and maintain a more upright posture. This use of a back brace can help to reduce future back pains by improving posture.

  3. Stabilizing and supporting the spine following injury. This is the back pain treatment a lot of us rely on immediately after a flare-up of pain, typically caused by injury or incorrect movement. The back brace not only stabilizes and supports the spine, but it reduces “micromotions” of the muscles and joints that could increase pressure on trigger or pain points.

The first two uses are obviously important, but we’re here to talk about Use #3: stabilizing and supporting your spine immediately after an injury.

What back braces do is take the load off your spine, and instead transfers the upper body weight forward to your abdomen. This helps to reduce pressure on the spinal muscles, joints, and bones, protecting your back following a trauma, injury, or flare-up of pain. It even relaxes the muscles that would otherwise tense up in an effort to stabilize your spine, and provides support that will reduce further damage.

The brace will also partially immobilize your spine, preventing incorrect twisting or lateral (side to side) movements that could increase the damage done or strain to your spine. It may even provide compression, which will reduce swelling and accelerate your body’s natural recovery.

Unfortunately, there is a potential downside to using back braces as a back pain treatment. Research suggests that using the back brace for extended periods of time will allow the core muscles to relax a bit too much. Over time, instead of strengthening in the wake of the muscle or joint injury, your back muscles may begin to atrophy and grow weaker. This can lead to a higher risk of injuries in the future.

The key, then, is to use the back brace in moderation.

Immediately following a flare-up of pain (caused by an injury or damage to the spinal joints, bones, or muscles), go through the standard at-home treatment:

  • Take an OTC anti-inflammatory, such as Advil or Tylenol

  • Apply a pain-relieving cream—even better if that cream also has capsaicin, menthol, or some other ingredient that accelerates blood flow to the damaged area. 

  • Walk around for a few minutes to let your gait naturally re-align your spine and ease the pain.

If you feel pain while walking, this may be the time to apply the back brace and let the supportive materials reduce the strain on your spine. Walking is one of the best things you can do for most muscle- and joint-based lower back injuries, and using the back brace will help to maintain spine stability while you walk.

Once you’re done walking, try taking off the back brace when you sit down. See if you can maintain proper posture without experiencing pain in your lower back. Only re-apply the back brace when you stand up to move around again. Try and use it less and less with every day, to strengthen your back muscles and encourage better posture overall.

Of course, if you’re experiencing any degree of pain that lasts more than a day or two, it’s worth visiting your GP or chiropractor for a treatment. No back pain is “good”, and any problems should be taken care of as quickly as possible.

Try the Best Back Pain Treatment Around: Back on Track

If you’re experiencing a great deal of back pain on a regular basis, you’re likely reaching the end of your rope and frustrated that you can’t find the solution for treating the pain. You’ve probably tried everything but nothing seems to work.

Time to give Back on Track a try!

Back on Track is a program created to help fellow back pain sufferers find long-term relief and improve their back health. The program dives into the dangerous but ignored syndrome that is behind so many different types of back pain, and provides an easy-to-follow, step-by-step plan to help you rehabilitate your back and strengthen the core muscles that support your spine.

Click on this link to see for yourself what Back on Track has to offer—it may be the last back pain treatment you’ll ever have to try!