The vast majority of people will suffer a back injury at some point in their life regardless of their occupation, however the chances are almost guaranteed for those who have physically active jobs such as nurses or construction workers. Sometimes the pain will go away on its own. Other times, the pain is more severe, constant and chronic.
In cases of mild or moderate back pain such as this, one’s personal and professional life are both negatively impacted. Fortunately, there are options available to help with recovery and to prevent future injuries from occurring. By using a back brace, you can get the protection you need during a short-term flare-up and help you go about your day.
Why You Should Use A Back Brace
According to the Annals of Physical Rehabilitation Medicine Journal, in their analysis of 28 studies published in the September 2016 issue, they found that a lumbar support device can provide relief in the short-term if you are feeling a flare-up or are in the process of recovering from a back injury.
Many nurses have reported experiencing debilitating back pain even with proper lifting technique. Being immobilized due to a back injury will delay recovery. It is important to remain active, and wearing a back brace will allow you to do the tasks you normally do as you are recovering.
Furthermore, some nurses simply swear by their back brace, claiming that it keeps them from performing dangerous movements such as bending and twisting at the same time. When preparing for a lift, it can keep their back straight as they bend their knees. They find that on days they don’t wear their back brace, they experience soreness, aches, or even sharp pains later that night.
Lastly, it is best to view a back brace as a back-up tool (excuse the pun), something to use just in case rather than as a requirement to do the job. It is better to have one and not need it than the other way around. One should still learn the basics of proper lifting technique, and should use a back brace only when experiencing soreness and some extra support is needed.
What is the Best Back Brace for Nurses?
ComfyMed Premium Back Brace
ComfyMed claims that their premium back brace is the most comfortable on the market, and based on user reviews it seems that they weren’t just blowing hot air. The ComfyMed brace offers strong support through its double pull compression band as well as 3 supportive bones on both sides.
The removable lumbar pad can be adjusted to give you extra support anywhere in the lumbar area. The ComfyMed brace is made of neoprene material that is soft, durable, and machine washable. Users have found that it provides excellent support while maintaining their freedom of movement.
It has been used for various activities such as household chores, sports activities, heavy lifting, and sitting for extended periods of time, and kept people’s pain in check and their spine protected during all of these activities.
Mueller 255 Lumbar Support Brace
Dealing with back pain can be costly; between visiting the doctor, medication, and missing work, people find that they their money is being drained fast. Thankfully the Mueller Lumbar Support Brace can provide back pain relief at a lower cost than other braces.
The Mueller 255 helps alleviate your body’s pressure on your spine’s lower discs, allowing a more consistent weight distribution and reduced pain. It provides firm support to your back when you are lifting heavy objects and the adjustable compression and double layer design helps you get the optimal fit.
The removable lumbar pad cushions provides is adjustable and effective at relieving pain by providing concentrated support, and users have reported that the material is not only breathable but does not ride up even when wearing it the whole day.
BraceUP Stabilizing Lumbar Lower Back Brace
Many back braces restrict your movement, but the BraceUP stabilizing brace provides comfortable lumbar support without compromising your range of movement. The curved design keeps it from riding up and slipping, and eight extra stays provide further support to your back. Dual adjustment straps allow you to customize the fit and support, and the mesh panels prevent heat and moisture from building up.
The BraceUP is suitable for many activities, from intense workouts, to light physical activity, or just everyday use. The breathable fabric lets moisture and heat escape so that you won’t overheat or stink of sweat while going about your day.
Users have found the BraceUP to be effective at easing their back pain, one even comparing it in effectiveness to the surgical back brace they got from their doctor. People say that the adjustability provided by the pull straps helps customize their fit so that it fits snug without restricting their movement or suffocating them.
Sparthos Back Brace
Like the other braces covered in this review, the Sparthos boasts excellent stability while still allowing you to perform your day-to-day activities. This is possible partly due to the dual adjustable compression straps which lets users adjust the tightness so that you can get the right balance of mobility and stability.
The flexible elastic mesh material gives it the stretch needed to fit your waist more snugly, while also allowing hot air to escape and allow your skin to breathe. The firm support stays keeps the Sparthos from riding up or sliding around, all the while providing additional support without adding unnecessary pressure on your back.
The removable lumbar pad gives you the choice of leaving it in on a particularly sore back day, or taking it out if you’re in the mood for it. At some point, you will need to clean your back brace, and the Sparthos can simply be tossed into the washing machine for a quick and convenient clean.
Back Brace for Nurses Buying Guide
The back is comprised of many muscles and bones, and it is not possible for a single back brace to properly support the entire area. That is why you have to select one that is specifically designed for the area that needs support, such as the lumbar or thoracic spine. Since nurses do a lot of lifting, which heavily stresses the lower back, they should look for braces that specialize in supporting the lumbar region.
The quality of the construction is high on our list of considerations, as we look at the design and production quality. The reason we emphasize the quality of a back brace is because a sub-par one could potentially worsen your back pain instead of giving you the protection you are looking for.
In our review, we looked at the type of fabric used, how well it has been stitched together, and how durable it feels overall to ensure you are getting the quality support you need. We also took into account user reviews that mentioned how long they used it for before the wear and tear got too much.
How well a back brace is constructed also indicates how comfortable it feels when worn. Since back braces are often worn for long periods of time, it should not chafe, add undue pressure, or restrict your breathing and movement too much. It is crucial to check the straps, fixings, or any area where the seams press against your body. Furthermore, the size of a brace will affect whether you can wear it under clothes or over them.
Unfortunately, there is somewhat of an inverse relationship between comfort and support. The comfier a back brace is, the less support it will be able to provide. The best back braces will find an optimal balance between the two. With that said, a back brace is only meant to provide minor support anyways, and it is up to the wearer to train their core muscles to properly support their body.
In addition, the specific materials used in a back brace will directly impact how comfortable it feels. For maximum comfort, look for lightweight and soft, yet supportive material that allows for breathability while still providing a decent level of support. On the other hand, back braces constructed using polyester, nylon, and thin neoprene are very durable but may not feel as comfortable to wear. All of these are excellent materials for back braces depending on how they are used.
Adjustability and Size
If you are suffering from lower back pain, check if the brace is too large otherwise it could be uncomfortable to wear for long. Back braces that claim they are “one size fits all” sound convenient but are often too good to be true.
Test that claim by seeing how much it can be adjusted and whether it can be worn under your clothes without restricting your movement or bulging out. Braces that rely on straps should be adjustable and easy to reach so that you can put it on and take it off easily.
There are two main strap types: buckle-style straps and Velcro straps. Buckles tend to hold better and last longer compared to velcro straps. However, medical-grade Velcro is very durable and also has great longevity. Furthermore, Velcro straps are more comfortable and less bulky compared to buckles.
Unfortunately, not all back braces are hypoallergenic, and you should carefully look over the product description to figure out if the brace is made of materials you are allergic to. Many back braces are designed to be worn over clothes, so they may not come into direct contact with your skin. Though, this may not be the ideal option, depending on your circumstances.
When it comes to a back brace, the fit is everything, and finding the perfect fit is absolutely necessary. As such, you may have to buy more than one and end up returning some of them. Check the manufacturer’s warranty or return policy to see how easily you can get a refund. But before you send anything back, at least earnestly try the back brace out for a few days. Keep track of what you liked and didn’t like to help you with your research.
Posture Braces for Lower Back Benefits
Back braces can be really beneficial for nurses that want to prevent or manage their chronic back pain by helping them maintain proper posture. Most back braces can be purchased without any doctor’s recommendations, however people who are recovering from surgery or a serious medical condition can get specialized ones from their doctor.
Since the purpose of back braces is to provide support to key muscles in the upper or lower back, wearers can rely on it so that they do not have to stress their injured muscles and allow the healing process to continue unhindered. Overall, you should experience less strain and pain as you normally would without a back brace.
The main advantages of wearing a back brace include:
- Improved posture.
- Reduced tension.
- Reassurance that you have extra protection when performing any lifting movements.
- Extra assistance in the recovery process.
- Additional stabilization around weak areas.
- Upright posture even after sitting or standing for long periods of time.
Whether the cause of your back pain is due to an injury, bad posture, or just wear and tear from years of use, a posture support brace is an affordable and effective means to provide relief and support for your back in your day-to-day life.
Types of Back Braces
Mentioned above, the back is too large of an area for a single back brace to support, and it is better to focus on specific pain points, such as the upper and lower back, where you need more protection.
There are two main types of support braces for the lower back: rigid and corset.
Rigid Braces are often used post-treatment and are custom-fitted. As the name suggests, they feature a rigid plastic body that wraps around your waist to maintain an upright posture and keep you from bending your lower back. Due to how firm and rigid they are, doctors often recommend them to patients that have extreme curvatures of the spine or other long-term conditions affecting the lower back.
Corset braces are constructed from soft materials that wrap tightly around your lower back like a corset. The fabric used is flexible, soft, and breathable, and can be further tightened with an elastic or Velcro strap. Corset braces work by tightening around the core muscles, relieving pressure on the spine by assisting the muscles that hold the spinal column up. Some are thinner and comfortable enough to be worn all day. Others are bulkier and more structured, but they provide greater support for short-term use such as when playing a sport or lifting.
Posture braces that support the thoracic spine and shoulders will do wonders for your posture by keeping your shoulders retracted and your thoracic spine upright. Today, due to smartphones, tablets, and other portable electronics, many people slouch heavily and put excessive strain on their back muscles. Upper back braces are particularly effective for desk workers that spend hours slumped forward.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I clean my back brace?
Back braces are often worn to provide support during physically demanding work and will soak up a lot of sweat and moisture. As such, it is important to wash it regularly to keep it, and you, smelling clean but also to maintain its longevity. If you are wearing it several hours a day but do not perform much physical activity, then washing it once every three to four days should suffice.
On the other hand, those who need it to do hard labor or for sports should wash it after each use. The back brace should come with instructions on how to wash it. If it doesn’t, then use laundry detergent or mild soap and scrub it in cold water. Hang it out to fully dry in a well-ventilated area, out of direct sunlight, before wearing it again.
Can I wear a back brace to sleep?
Although lumbar support devices such as back braces are fine to wear for support throughout the day, since they help you go about your day with extra protection, you should not wear it when sleeping. You want to let your skin breathe and not let your body get too reliant on the back brace. Furthermore, it is not comfortable wearing it for so long, and may result in rashes developing. Unless your doctor instructs you to do so, we do not recommend sleeping in a back brace.
How long can I wear my back brace for?
If you want to protect your back when lifting something heavy, you can wear it temporarily for assistance and take it off after. You may also decide to wear it for the entire workday, however it is important that you do not become too reliant on it. Consider performing core strengthening exercises to train the muscles that support your spine. Depending on the severity of your back pain, you should check in with your doctor to learn how long you should wear it for, and when you can take it off.
Are back braces covered under my health insurance?
This depends on the amount of coverage you have. Back braces, for many health insurance companies, are considered durable medical equipment, or DME. You will have to call your health insurance provider to confirm, but it is possible that a percentage of your expenses will be covered by your plan.
Should a Nurse Wear a Back Brace?
With all of the heavy lifting nurses need to perform over a 12 hour shift, it is no surprise that they are one of the groups most susceptible to suffering debilitating back injuries which can affect them both at work and in their personal lives. In an attempt to fix this problem, many hospital facilities ordered back braces en masse and required all employees to wear them.
This was many years ago, and since then the data revealed that back braces were doing more harm than good, with workplace injuries increasing after wearing back braces was mandated. “Wait a minute,” you might be thinking. “I thought back braces protected you from back injuries”? They can, if you use them properly. And if you don’t, then they won’t. Let’s go over the main criticisms of back braces and how to avoid these pitfalls. The most common complaints about back braces are that they:
|Problems with Back Braces||Solution|
|They discourage learning and using proper lifting technique, with users relying solely on the back brace to maintain proper form.||Know how properly activate your core stabilizer muscles and use the posture brace as a second layer of protection when needed.|
|They lend a false sense of security, making you overconfident and tricking you into lifting more than you safely can because you feel you are “protected”.||Don’t get cocky. Ask for help and use other lifting equipment if necessary.|
|They cause discomfort, often due to riding up or rubbing against your skin and resulting in skin lesions.||Wear an undershirt. You can get custom-fitted back braces but they are expensive.|
|They cause muscle atrophy (in very rare cases) by doing the work that the core stabilizer muscles should be doing.||Do not build a dependence on your back brace; learn proper lifting technique and use a back brace only when your back is feeling tender.|
It is important to note that while the criticisms above are valid and should be kept in mind, these issues are often the result of users wearing their back braces long-term and becoming reliant on their back brace, without learning correct lifting technique.
The best back brace for nurses is one that gives you enough protection to make it through the shift when you are recovering from an injury or your back is starting to feel tender. It should not be used in lieu of learning and using proper lifting technique.
An over-reliance on a back support brace may cause you to become dependent on it, and this can cause further issues down the road if you ever try lifting something without a brace. Strengthening one’s core muscles as well as performing daily stretches for the back and legs will prevent most injuries from occurring.
The back brace for nurses comes in during those days where you aren’t feeling 100% and would like some additional support to get you through the day.
Another labor intensive occupation that can make good use of a back brace is construction worker, and you may be interested in reading our review of the best back brace for construction workers.