How do I Choose the Best Lumbar Support Brace?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A lumbar support brace should fit comfortably, provide adequate support, and limit the risk of injuries to the wearer. People who need to wear braces can take a number of things into consideration when making a purchase. It is important to be aware that back braces cannot be worn continuously unless a patient is directed to do so by a doctor, as the muscles in the back can atrophy. Additionally, people who experience back pain should be evaluated by a doctor to learn more about the cause; a brace may not resolve the issue.

Back braces may be worn for posture and back support.
Back braces may be worn for posture and back support.

Fit is an important consideration for a lumbar support brace. These products are adjustable, but it is important to purchase a brace of the right size. People with short backs may have concerns about a brace that rides up or down or digs into the buttocks, and people who are very large may need to purchase a special size to get a brace that fits. When people buy lumbar support braces, they should ask for assistance with fitting it the first time, as contorting to manage the straps while adjusting it can pull the brace out of alignment and ruin the fit.

Those who work in positions that require heavy lifting often wear lumbar belts for back support.
Those who work in positions that require heavy lifting often wear lumbar belts for back support.

Some braces have pockets that can hold pads for added support and stability. Heating pads designed to work with lumbar support braces are available and can be useful for people who benefit from mild heat on their spines. If a lumbar support brace with a pocket is chosen, it's important to make sure the items inserted into the pocket fit appropriately and to adjust the brace as needed to accommodate the increased bulk.

People should also think about why they are wearing a lumbar support brace. Braces designed for people who do heavy lifting often have support straps across the shoulders to stabilize the brace and promote good lifting form. Braces for people who experience mild low back pain have no support straps and vary in rigidity to help people sit and stand straight while applying gentle pressure to address back pain. Braces for people preparing for or recovering from surgery are usually prescribed and fitted by a doctor.

Other considerations are more practical. Lumbar support braces can become soiled over time and people may want to check on the ease of cleaning a lumbar support brace. Some can be thrown in the washing machine, while others need to be washed by hand, or are not washable at all.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

ZipLine

@donasmrs-- That's true. Even ones made from other fabrics cause a lot of heat and sweating when worn for long periods. I try to wear it over a shirt to avoid this but it still causes perspiration around my back. There are actually ones with small holes in the material to increase ventilation and air circulation.

This and whether the brace is adjustable are two factors that everyone needs to consider when getting a lumbar support brace.

ddljohn

A lumbar brace with a pocket for a heating pad sounds fantastic. The one I have now doesn't have pockets. My back loves heat. It reduces my pain and relaxes my back muscles. But it's difficult to keep a heating pad in place, especially when walking. I have to constantly adjust it and hold it when walking. I need to get a brace with a pocket ASAP.

donasmrs

The material that the brace is composed of is very important.

I have a lumbar support brace made of wool. It's great in the winter. It keeps my back warm and also provides support and protection when bending and lifting things at work. But it's impossible to wear in warm weather as it creates too much heat. So I have to purchase one made from breathable material to use at work during warm weather.

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