Should I get a lower back support belt?

Every week we get asked the questions "should I get a lower back support belt", and the answer is always easy to give. Our first answer is usually, no! Developing your core with core activation exercises is nearly always our next response.

Developing your core means your back is better protected and has the support and control that you need naturally to go about your daily life in a pain free way.

But!

There are some situations where a lower back support belt can be immensely helpful at relieving pain and restoring mobility. 


Image right: While this guy thinks he looks pretty cool, he's not. We recommend wearing your support UNDER your clothes.

Belt in this picture is called AgileBak by Clever Yellow and is one recommended by the OFC.

lower back belt support golf

Advantages of wearing a lower back support belt

One of the main advantages of wearing a lower back support belt is Stability. And goddam do lower backs need stability. 

To understand why, we need to look at how

the back becomes unstable in the first place.

As you get older, after trauma or with certain careers (such as loads of sitting), your lumbar disks start to shrink in height. As they do, the vertebra get closer together (a process call degenerative disk disease and/or spondylosis).

This shrinkage causes the ligaments that hold the vertebra 'tight' essentially to become a bit 'flappy'. Image standing in a tent and lowering the tent pole, now what would happen to the guy ropes? You get the idea.

This flappiness causes instability and could be a large part of the reason why your back keeps 'going' even after doing something as innocuous such as picking up a leaf from the floor.

Enter the importance of the core!

To stabilise your back, your postural muscles need to tighten and your core and gluteal muscles too. Without this, re-injuring your back becomes ever more likely.

And this is where a lower back support belt can come in handy.

A lumbar belt, as they're also known, can essentially take over this role of the core - while at the same time offering comfort and psychological support. 

Disadvantages of a lumbar support belt

The main disadvantage to a lower back support belt is that it can be far too easy to become reliant upon. As the belt takes over from your core, your core which is likely perhaps already not strong enough, can now take an even more lax role in your mobility and motility - actually then worsening your back condition, not improving it.

It is exactly for this reason that NICE, the organisation responsible for guiding excellence in healthcare do NOT support the use of lower back support belts (you can see these guidelines here) for lower back pain.

So should I get one or not?

While the evidence and the logic may say no, sometimes our backs do just need a little bit more help.

So there can be no harm in giving it a try, so long as you have the understanding that it is no substitute for strengthening your core and rehabilitating your back through lumbar spine exercises and physical therapy.

In summary: guidance from the OFC

The guidance from the OFC about lower back support belts can be summarised a few key points:

  • There is limited evidence to support there long term use for managing lower back pain
  • They CAN offer some comfort to acute lower back pain
  • They CAN help to support your back at times when it is most vulnerable
  • They are NOT a substitute for core activation exercises
  • They are NOT a substitute for lower back treatment and rehabilitation

Still interested in getting your self a lower back support belt?

If you've read everything above and still feel like a lumbar support belt may help you, the we recommend this one by AgileBak by Clever Yellow. It's affordable and easy to use, with fast delivery and plenty of user reviews to support its use.


lower back belt support
lower back belt support side

Here at the OFC we particularly liked its ease of use, range of sizes and comfortable fit.


AUTHORS AND CREATORS

This page was written and composed by experts in their fields;

OLIVER WAKEFIELD M.ost
REGISTERED OSTEOPATH

Oliver is a registered Osteopath in the UK with a particular interest in sports and rehabilitation - he practises in Devon, Southwest England.

LOUISE PRATLEY M.ost
REGISTERED OSTEOPATH

Louise is a registered Osteopath, fitness model and enthusiast as well as a business and social influencer. She also practises as an Osteopath in Devon, UK.

Oliver and Louise specialise in helping people get over their pain and get back to living the lives they want to be living - follow this link to find out more about us.

We welcome any one who wants to get in touch with us here at the OFC for any reason - please use the form on our contact us page.


All the information and advice in this website should be followed with common sense and expert help - follow this link for our full disclaimer.

We hoped you found this page about lower back support belt helpful and informative. Click here to check out the OFC homepage