Why it’s tempting to use a back brace to help back pain?
Back braces and posture supports can be really tempting. But they are a terrible idea. Here we’ll tell you exactly why you might be tempted to use them, what you should do instead, and a little tech device that we’ve come across that may be an acceptable, even helpful alternative.
Some of the most watched videos on our channel are on posture supports and are videos we’ve done many years ago. They get a lot of comments and a lot of questions. So we thought we’d remake the video and try and come up with something that really explains a lot more about why you may be tempted in detail to go down that route of these posture supports and braces that people wear, and why this isn’t going to be a good idea. Hopefully, by the end of this, you’ll really understand what’s going to be right for you.
What’s causing your back pain?
We thought it would be helpful to start out by giving you an overview of what’s going to be causing the back pain. It’s helpful to consider the spine rather than the “back”, the spine itself is predominantly going to be injured in the lower lumbar regions between the fourth lumbar vertebra and the Sacrum, also known as ‘S1″. The discs in-between these vertebra are the ones that commonly become bulging, slipped or herniated, or just general degeneration, wear and tear the facet joints as well as other more complicated conditions can all be present down here.
Your low back’s main role?
Ultimately, it’s a load bearing structure. And that’s, really important. If you’re reading this right now on your phone, laptop or tablet, hold it down in front of you for the next couple of seconds while reading, notice how the weight becomes more heavy. That’s because the further forwards and away from the centre the weight is, the more force it applies on your arm to hold it. Now if we think about our posture, we’ve got a big ribcage, head and shoulders. And as our posture slowly slips forwards, it increases the distance the main mass of our body is placed from the lower back. That magnifies load on our lumbar spine. So when we’re thinking about posture, we’re thinking about your lower back pain, we’re thinking we want to get it in line as much as possible. Long term this bas posture is going to be maintained by the muscles. When it comes down to supporting good posture, which is imperative for recovering effectively from back pain, you won’t recover.
The two parts you must change.
If you’re leaning forwards all day, we need to address two key factors. Number one is going to be the conscious effort, the understanding of what is upright, what is good posture. Number two is, we need to build the muscles to support good posture, those muscles that run along the back there all too often hunched over all day while we’re sat at a computer or watching TV or travelling. They’re stretching out and they’re not used the way in which they should be.
Why you shouldn’t use a back brace?
So so far, we’ve talked about the posture being terrible. So why wouldn’t you choose a brace? What is it doing, it’s pulling you back, you put the T shirt on or the straps on and it holds you upright and sorts out that postural issue. From experiencing patients in clinic and members of our back in shape program. Using these devices helps encourage laziness. Yes, there are a small percentage of cases where there’s something a little bit more complicated going on. If that’s you, then we understand this article is not necessarily for you. But the bulk of people 99.9%, don’t need to get trapped with being lazy.
But don’t they remind you to stand upright?
A postural support may well remind you the moment you put it on to stand up straight, which was the central part one, but they do absolutely nothing for part two, which is strengthen and support those muscles. In fact, the opposite. While you’re using these devices to hold your body up, your muscles aren’t getting the stimulation they need. It’s a case of use it or lose it. If you don’t use those those muscles to effectively hold your body up every day, then you will lose the ability for those muscles to function effectively. That gets you going down a one way track, which becomes more and more difficult to go back on. The argument for us anyway, just doesn’t really hold water. You forget, we’re all human beings, we forget, we forget we’re holding things we forget our coffee cups, we put our car keys down on the kitchen table and forget two minutes later that they’re there and run around the house trying to find them. So the notion that this little strap is going to remind you to hold your posture all day is really quite laughable. From experience, it just doesn’t work.
What you should do to help your posture & back pain?
Now what are you actually going to do to help your posture? What are you going to use to brace your posture to improve your support for your spine and for your body so it doesn’t affect your back pain. Exercises. We’ve developed a great program and the exercises in the Back In Shape program, particularly those in Phase 3 are the right sort of exercises to help you fix your posture especially if you’ve had back pain in the past, or have it right now.
There are simple exercises that work the muscles between our shoulder base to hold our chest out engagement of the course support everything. Also those lower back muscles are targeted. You should do them in a slow progressive manner, meaning that this week you learn how to do them. Next week you do a little bit more. The week after you do a little bit more, and so on and so forth. So those muscles get stronger, coupled with a conscious effort to sit up straighter every day. That really is the secret to building a better posture brace, using your own built-in one, which every single one of us have. This way you’ll really improve your posture and help your back pain for the long term.
An interesting tech support.
We mentioned in the video that there was a little technological solution and actually motivation for this article. You’ve probably gathered in this video, we don’t really buy the argument that wearing a brace reminds you, you’re amazed when you put it on, but after that… So we went out and looked for this posture trainer device, you can get it off Amazon, well it isn’t going to train you, for you, that’s for sure. But from a reminder point of view, it actually really works quite well you take the little device, there probably be a picture below. You basically stick it just where your collar would sit on the back of your spine. You set it when you’re sitting your chair at your workstation. You then use your phone (app) to set the time allowance before it buzzes you on the back of your neck. So if you slouch for 15 seconds, 30 seconds or a minute it’ll start buzzing, a little reminder to use your own muscles to sit back up.
Our experience using the posture corrector.
W’ve actually noticed that while doing some editing we were going back forwards quite frequently and this was setting the device off big time! Many of you that are working from home right now will probably experience similar sort of things. It was a little bit of a “Hey, you need to work at this more,” you can feel those muscles starting to work through the day if you listen to the device and don’t end up throwing it out the window it can help.
What’s the verdict?
So that device is a pretty interesting one. We’ve explained a number of things that you need to do but we do think that that little device can help you in addressing your posture. It does this in a way that doesn’t interfere with the muscle component (point 2) that we mentioned earlier.
Hopefully you found this article full of useful information. Remember, there’s those two essential points for good posture when it comes to back pain.
That is the conscious effort. And that is the muscle work. These posture braces that you wear, I don’t really buy them, I don’t think they work. That being said, you do have this technological solution that we’ve mentioned. So that might be something to look into. But it doesn’t replace conscious effort and hard work to build up those muscles on the back, you do that you’re going to be great.