Recently our fitness director Cathy Grierson was asked by a guest who suffers lower backpain whether he should get a back brace for his workouts. Cathy has been asked this question before and she's certain seen her share of people in the gym wearing them. However, a back brace may be doing them more harm than good. Here is her response to whether you should wear a back brace or not.
Nearly 80% of North Americans will suffer back pain at some point in their lives. For many, the injury is triggered by a strenuous activity, like gardening or weight lifting. Others simply bend down to pick up a pencil and their back gives out.
Although the pain may have started after gardening or a long workout at the gym, the strain that caused it has likely been building for years as most people have weak core stability muscles, leading to poor posture when going about their daily activities, putting unnecessary strain on their backs. You can increase the pressure on your back by 50% simply by leaning over the sink incorrectly to brush your teeth. Keeping the right amount of curvature in the back by having strong core muscles takes pressure off the nerves and will reduce back pain.
At Mountain Trek, the guides and fitness staff are constantly encouraging Trekkers to have good form and to “engage their core”; to protect their backs, maintain balance and increase power. Check out the guide section of this APP to view the video “engaged core” that explains how to engage and strengthen your core.
As to a brace, if you wear one the muscles which should be providing stability, weaken and you will have less core strength, so I don’t recommend them. Having said that if you have a back injury that your Doctor, Physical therapist or health care professional has recommend you wear while you heal then it’s best to follow their instructions which usually includes using sparingly and for only short periods so your muscles don’t weaken and you become dependent upon it.