Back pain is extremely common, with around 80% of adults experiencing it at some point in their lives. With those kinds of numbers, it’s not surprising that many people seek conservative treatment methods like braces. But with the many different causes of low back pain, it can be hard to know which brace is best suited for your condition. So, here’s our breakdown of the best braces for lower back pain.
What’s the cause of your low back pain
As we mentioned, lower back pain has a lot of potential causes. These may include:
- Overuse: one of the most common causes of lower back pain, overuse often results from long hours of being static, most often while sitting or standing. Generally, the pain will subside when you lay down or stretch the lower back.
- Spine misalignment: sometimes, the bony protrusions running along the vertebrae can get stuck together (what osteopaths refer to as ‘subluxation’). This type of subluxation can result from poor posture, overuse, or acute injury. Due to subluxation, your vertebrae don’t have their full range of motion, putting some pressure on your spinal disks and the nerves there.
- Joint misalignment: Back pain can also result from knee, hip, or even ankle joint misalignment, as an issue in the body’s ‘foundation’ often spreads upwards, affecting how those joints and muscles react to movement.
- Pinched nerve: Common symptoms include tingling, needle-stab sensations around your low back and through your legs (as in the case of a pinched sciatic nerve, numbness, muscle weakness, and sometimes sharp pain. Pinched nerves can result from overuse, poor posture, or acute injury.
- Arthritis: as you may know, arthritis involves cartilage breaking down. In the lower back, this is usually caused by osteoarthritis, which in turn results from the regular wear and tear of the spine as we age. However, arthritis may also be posttraumatic (resulting from an acute injury that prevents spinal joints from moving properly) or rheumatoid (where your body’s immune system attacks cartilage tissue). Common symptoms include pain and stiffness which can vary greatly in severity from person to person.
- Herniated disk: disks are the little cushions between your vertebrae. When a disk herniates, it bulges out of place (which can happen during an acute sports injury or even doing an everyday task like picking up a laundry basket). Sometimes, you may feel no symptoms. Other times, the disk may press into the spinal column, agitating the nerves and causing pain that ranges from a dull backache to sharp nerve pain and muscle weakness.
Learn more about the causes of back pain: Back & Spine Injuries - Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention
The best braces for low back pain
Now, how can a back brace help with issues like this? According to an extensive research review published in the Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, lumbar support braces improve function and reduce patients’ need for pain medications. A good quality back brace will do so through some combination of medical-grade compression knit, splints, and gel padding that supports your lumbar spine while working to improve muscle activation and relieve pain. But, as we mentioned, the brace best suited for you will depend on your condition.
Our LumboTrain, for example, is a great brace for general lower back pain. That is, pain stemming from mild herniated disks, muscle fatigue and strain, early stages of osteoarthritis, and mild postural problems. The LumboTrain relies on medical-grade compression to activate key muscle groups around your hips and low back and improve how they support your lumbar vertebrae. Its gel pad, meanwhile, soothes the muscle to relieve pain. As an added benefit, it’s extensively adjustable and breathable. You can wear it all day without discomfort.
The LumboLoc, on the other hand, feels more like a corset. It incorporates splints for increased stability. The LumboLoc is best for moderate arthritis and postural problems, as the combination of knit and splints work alongside the muscle to keep your lumbar supported and well-aligned.
For more extensive support, the LumboLoc forte includes pain-relieving pads around the sacral joints and lumbar, a specialised anatomic belt for improved muscle support, and a two-tension strap for unloading pressure. These features make it a great choice for more severe pain, muscle weakness, herniated disks, and sciatica.
Honourable mentions: foot and knee supports
As we mentioned, the health and function of your knees and feet affect that of your lumbar. If your cadence is off from flat feet or a knee injury that’s preventing your legs and glute muscles from activating correctly to support your spine, it could lead to muscle tension and misalignment in the lumbar. We’d recommend looking into insoles and our GenuTrain Knee Brace. The former will support key areas of your foot and help improve its roll, and the latter will improve leg muscle activation, and, by extension, how the joint tracks.
Additional steps to take
Now, bracing is important, but it shouldn’t be your only focus.
- MOVE. Being immobile is just about the worst thing you can do to your back. The muscles there need movement to stay strong and flexible. While some rest may be necessary after your back injury, gently move your back (with your doctor's ok) by walking and swimming.
- Strengthen. Exercises like Bird Dog, Dead Bugs (which we talked about in our Surfing Tips article), and Planks are fantastic additions to your workout routine.
- Stretch. Muscle tension is often annoying and painful, and may sometimes even lead to complications due to the increased strain and pull on your spinal joints. So, do some stretches like Cat Cow, Cobra, and Standing Forward Bend (especially after a long day at the office).
- Work on your posture. Slouching may feel more comfortable than sitting up straight, but for your lumbar, the opposite is true. Slouching puts excess pressure on your spinal joints, disks, and muscles. Therefore, along with bracing and strengthening, create an ergonomic workspace. That means a good office chair with lumbar support (or a good lumbar cushion) and a monitor that you don’t have to hunch down to see.
To sum up
Back braces are an important step in dealing with many types of lower back pain as they’ll help support your lumbar spine. That said, you should always aim to use braces alongside other key methods, like strengthening exercises that target the lumbar spine's support network and stretches to relieve tension around your back.
See our full collection of back supports: Back Braces Australia | Back Supports
If you require assistance selecting the right product for your needs or wearing the brace, call us on 1300 668 466 or contact us via live chat.
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