back braces

Using a Back Brace: Advantages, Myths & Advice

Should I wear one?  Will it make my muscles waste away? Will I become dependent on wearing it? Can I drive with it?  Do I wear it all the time?

Conditions where a back brace may be useful:

  • Sprain /strain – acute
  • Post-operative support : discectomy, fusion, laminectomy
  • Facet Syndrome
  • Instability: chronic or traumatic
  • Bulging or herniated disc
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Fracture management
  • Deconditioned or postural back pain
  • Degenerative Disc Disease

Types of Back Braces:

There are many types of back braces on the market today: good quality, bad quality, expensive ones, inexpensive ones, braces for different parts of the back: mid-spine and lower lumbar spine, and the tailbone or sacrum.

There are also many different designs, using different materials such as elastic, soft plastic, hard plastic metal, Velcro and laces.

It is important to find a back brace that:

  • Fits you well
  • Is comfortable
  • Feels supportive
  • Perhaps gives you some pain relief

Advantages & benefits of using a back brace:

When using most back braces today, they will have a compression strap that pulls the back brace snugly around you. When the strap or straps are pulled, this causes a compression to the core musculature resulting in an overall decrease in volume of the intra-abdominal soft tissue. It is this decrease in volume of soft tissue that acts as a STABILIZER directly surrounding the spine.

Many back injuries or back conditions end up in a revolving circle of inflammation and muscle spasm due to an acute injury or a chronic condition that flare up.  Although the causes of back pain are varied, because of the anatomy and function demanded of our spinal column, bracing is a good choice for conservative treatment.

When there is back pain (no matter what the cause) the reaction of the spinal musculature is to contract into involuntary spasm or voluntary contraction of the muscles to protect the injured or inflamed joint or soft tissue structure(s).  The muscles often go into “overdrive” with good intentions of protecting the spine. In effect, what happens is the vicious circle of pain and spasm begins. There are a number of ways to break into that vicious circle: medication, physiotherapy (including ice, heat, modalities, stretching, strengthening, manual therapy etc.)  And lastly, as an external stabilizer: a back brace.

When using a back brace, it allows the core muscles that are supporting the spine to relax and not be in “overdrive protection mode “all the time. When this happens you are able to get up from sitting or lying down and move around more than you would with a back in spasm.

The other important advantage that a back brace provides is PROPRIOCEPTION.

According to, the definition of proprioception is: The unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself. In humans, these stimuli are detected by nerves within the body itself, as well as by the semicircular canals of the inner ear. The back brace provides external proprioception to the person wearing the brace allowing them to move, sit, and maintain a better posture while recovering from their injury.


1) Weakens muscles:

Although this is something that you hear often, wearing a back brace most likely only ever cause weakness if you put the back brace on, lie down , and do nothing for long periods of time. In fact, put quite simply, if putting a back brace on allows you to be up walking for longer periods, doing activities that you would not be able to do otherwise, this is a positive move towards recovery.

The one thing that is very important when using/wearing a back brace is that you follow the EXERCISE PROGRAM for strengthening and stretching given to you by your Health Care practitioner.  Keeping the Core musculature that supports the spine strong and flexible is important whether your back is injured or not injured. The Exercise program becomes VITAL when wearing a back brace.

2) Rely on the back brace forever (addicted to wearing back brace):

Once again this myth comes back to the importance of maintaining your core musculature by maintaining an exercise program. If you do wear the back brace and allow the back brace to do ALL the work ALL of the time, then you are asking for trouble. Which exercise, how often, etc., would be best advised by your health care practitioner?


There is most definitely a place for back bracing for anyone experiencing back pain. Professionally fit back braces offer a safe, non-invasive to treat a current back injury or to prevent a chronic condition from intensifying.   Professional guidance by a health care practitioner is advisable for your specific back condition with regards to amount of time worn, exercises etc.

There are many back braces to choose from, choose carefully and look for good quality. Wearing the back brace can assist in healing, decrease the chance of further injury, help control pain, support weakened muscles, and promote good posture. It will not cure you, but will help on so many levels. Try several on. Don’t over use it but also don’t underuse it, take advantage of what today’s high quality back bracing can do for you!

Back Braces Available at Arthritis & Injury Care Centre:

Our Locations:

Downtown Halifax

Park Lane Mall
1554 Dresden Row, Suite 3070
Halifax, NS B3J 2K2 Canada
Tel: (902) 442-5199
Toll Free: (888) 422-1608
Fax: (902) 442-5625

Clayton Park

Clayton Park Shopping Centre
278 Lacewood Drive
Halifax, NS B3M 3N8 Canada
Tel: (902) 404-8419
Toll Free: (888) 422-1608
Fax: (902) 442-5625


Millstone Square at Russell Lake
250 Baker Drive, Suite 223 (Entrance C)
Dartmouth, NS B2W 6L4 Canada
Tel: (902) 404-8352
Toll Free: (888) 422-1608
Fax: (902) 404-8351


Equilibrum Maritime
3 Champlain Street, Unit 3
Dieppe, NS E1A 1N4 Canada
Tel: (506) 389-2552
Fax: (506) 389-2332


1113 Regent Street, Suite 300
Fredericton, NB E3B 3Z2 Canada
Tel: (506) 474-0340
Toll Free: (888) 422-1608
Fax: (866) 262-1381

Saint John

555 Somerset Street, Suite 206
Saint John, NB E2K 4X2 Canada
Tel: (506) 632-2592
Toll Free: (888) 422-1608
Fax: (506) 632-9213

Planning on using a back brace? Please contact us today for more information!

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