Sore backs can range from a nuisance to those that prevent the person from doing what is needed for work, leisure, and even weightlifting. A weightlifting belt can massively reduce the risk of back injury.
Prolonged back pain not only affects physical activity, but the continuously nagging pain can also begin to affect mood and outlook. Some of the factors that contribute to back injuries include:
- A single traumatic event, such as a slip and fall or a vehicle accident.
- Cumulative trauma to the spine and related structures from poor work posture, extended periods of standing or sitting, or repeated activities such as bending, twisting and lifting (whether properly or improperly).
At the gym where there is a risk of a back injury, steps can be taken to help reduce the incidence. One tool in the back-injury-prevention arsenal is a weightlifting belt.
The rationale behind back support is that they support your abdomen and take some of the load off your lower back. If you have a labor-intensive job that places stress on your lower back, a back brace can help while you're working or on returning to work after a back injury by avoiding too much strain on your spine.
Posture support devices such as the weightlifting belt have added straps to help maintain a better posture for overall back health.
A contoured weightlifting belt such as the classic 'Olympic' belt is the most popular due to it's comfortable shape and the inner padding.
What a Back Support Can't Do
While back support can be a helpful ergonomic tool, like any type of personal protective equipment (PPE) there are limitations to what it can do, and it is important to recognize those limitations in order to help prevent back injuries.
- Back supports will not allow a worker to lift more weight.
- Back supports will not eliminate back injuries. They are one control measure to help reduce the risk of injury. Reducing risk factors help reduce the incidence rate. Back supports should be used in conjunction with other control measures.
- Back supports are not a substitute for an effective ergonomics program. They are a supplemental part of a comprehensive ergonomics program, which includes job task analysis, ergonomic redesign, medical surveillance, training and education, and the use of personal protective equipment.
Weightlifting belts and back supports also have a positive role to play in those situations where the risk of injury cannot be readily engineered out of a job, such as an inpatient care, hospitality, construction, or delivery service settings.
It is also important to remember that, while back supports can improve posture, they may restrict motion. There has been some concern this restriction may result in the wasting away (atrophy) of some muscles that support the spine through lack of use.
If you use back support, limit the use to intermittently several hours a day to ensure that muscles are properly maintained (and if you use back support while recovering from a back injury, be sure to consult your medical professional regarding appropriate use for your conditions).