Ways Back Posture Brace Works
After discussing it with your medical team, you may have decided that wearing a back posture brace is for you. If you are wondering how a back posture brace works, and when to use it, here is a quick summary to help you understand why and how it works, as well as how and when to use it effectively.
How a Back Posture Brace Works –
During healing from back injuries, physicians and therapists often will prescribe a back brace in order to limit the motion of the back muscles and the spine in order to ensure that healing occurs in the bony structures of the lumbar (lower back and spine), and in order to ensure that torn muscles or ligaments and tendons are not further used. Low back pain may occur during overuse of a muscle group. For workplaces where the person is seated for long periods of time without variations in movement, or when a person is standing for too long, muscle overuse or awkward postures can often result in lower back pain. A back posture brace works not only by limiting the muscles from over working but they also cue the muscles to stay in a particular position that allows for optimal postural alignment.
There are typically a few types of different back posture braces. Some are used to limit the motion of the spine, and some are used for postural retraining. Other braces are used for giving the back muscles a bit of a rest during a long work day. Here, I will go through a variety of back braces to explain how a typical back posture brace works.
Rigid Braces – Rigid braces work by limiting the motion of the spine. These are form fitted, plastic braces that are for more severe injuries and during the first and middle phases of healing. Rigid braces need to be properly fitted by a professional in order to eliminate 50% of the motion in the spine. This can be very helpful for healing fractures, aligning broken bones, healing ligamentous tears, healing after spinal fusion surgeries, and for torn muscles. The difficulty with rigid braces are that they can be slightly uncomfortable and can irritate the skin if not fitted properly. Rigid back posture braces are used more for serious postural alignment issues and for intense retraining programs. They are not to be used while lying down as much.
Corset Braces – Corset braces work by also limiting the motion of the spinal muscles, bones, and ligaments. This brace is especially useful for when the physician has cautioned that a forward bending motion is to be limited after a more severe back issue or surgery.
Trochanteric Belts – These back posture belts are used for joint pain within the pelvic area, or for healing pelvic fractures. The belt fits around the pelvis and it joins around the body like a regular belt. This type of brace helps to stabilize the above mentioned areas for healing.
Sacriiliac and Lumbrosacral Belts – These belts are the most commonly seen and used. They can be purchased over the counter at drug stores and pharmacies. These belts claim to stabilize the lower back. They are made of cotton and lightweight stretchy, but firm materials. Typically these lower back brace belts are pressure adjustable through laces or velcro adjustments that are at the back of the belt, the front of the belt, or at the sides of the belt. The width of these belts across the lower back area can range from 15 centimetres to 25 centimetres. The sacroiliac back posture brace works by preventing motion through compressing the joints between the hips and the sacrum (lower spine). When your abdominal muscles, your spinal muscles and core muscles are overworked, this is very effective, as it gives these muscles a bit of a rest.
Summary – The fact is, that without a brace, the abdominal muscles, spinal muscles, and core muscles act as stabilizers for the lower back. In general, back braces all work through immobilizing the lower back muscles, ligament, and bones of the spine. This gives the lower back a bit of a rest, and allows for any injuries to heal without over straining the muscles. It is important to understand how the back posture brace works and when to use it and when not to use it. Some back braces need to be worn for most of the day, and some are not meant to be used very often at all. If you choose to use a back posture brace for postural alignment but are relatively healthy with out any severe injuries, it is important to only use it to the just right amount. Using the lumbar support brace too much will cause the muscles to eventually weaken and hence the back will be more susceptible to injury in the future. In working on postural alignment and fitness, core muscle exercises and postural alignment exercises are recommended while at the same time using the back posture brace in moderation, for it’s specific purpose with respect to your individual situation. If you are wearing the lumbar support for healing, it is also important to have the use of the brace monitored by a professional. The way it works for healing is that once the bones and ligaments and muscles are properly healed, the person using the brace should slowly wean themselves off of wearing it and start to regain muscle use and strength in the lumbar area. In general, if the back posture brace is being used for prevention at a job where a lot of pressure is put on the lower back, the brace should only be worn during certain times of the work day, and not for the whole work day. This will allow for the back muscles to be used and worked to the just right amount, and to rest as well. This information on how a back posture brace works, is more general, and a professional should be consulted if you are thinking of using a back brace.