We had a chance to check out three back braces to see which one was not only the most comfortable, but which one did the best job at keeping the spine safe and found that the Champion C-205-S was the most impressive. We checked out factors like the design, the materials, the comfort, and how well each one performed. If you’re in the market for a back brace that you can be sure will keep the back protected during work or exercise, have a look at what we discovered in our research.
A good back brace can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your back safe. Whether it’s during exercise or lifting heavy loads at work, the risk of slipping a disk or hurting your posture is always there. The spine isn’t exactly the most structurally sound body part and isn’t necessarily indestructible either. In fact, the Center For Disease Control and Prevention Reports that back injuries account for nearly 20 percent of all work-related injuries.
Poor lifting technique, genetics, poor posture, and overexertion can all have seriously detrimental effects on a person’s back, making a back brace a basic necessity for anyone who leads an active lifestyle.
However, not all back braces are created equal. Some may look fancy and robust, but really can’t keep the back straight or protected during times of stress. Others may be more basic in their appearance but can do wonders for those who have trouble keeping their spines aligned. It really pays to do your research if you’re in the market for a back brace. Everything from the materials to the way it fits is worth considering. Finding the right back brace could mean the difference between a body that stays healthy for years to come and one that doesn’t.
It was clear that the CHAMPION Industrial Belt Back Brace Abdominal Support was the best back brace on our list.
The durable, elastic and foam material wraps comfortably around the waist and it has two suspender-style straps that go over the shoulders for extra stability. It isn’t necessarily big or bulky either like some other back braces on the market, and measures in at just 12.8 x 5.8 x 2.5 inches.
The Champion C-205-S is also fully adjustable so that you can tighten it to your comfort level. It has an easy-to-maneuver hook and loop fastening method that makes it simple to take on and off. It also comes in a variety of sizes. You’ll find it in extra-small, regular, extra-large, and a double extra-large.
It’s also designed to be worn over clothing rather than under, which made us think it was great for the gym but also for someone whose day-to-day life involves lots of carrying heavy boxes or crates. We also noticed a majority of the compression was situated on the lumbar spine which we really found really important, mainly because this is where a great deal of back injuries occur. The C-205-S does a great job of keeping this area from becoming misaligned and also reinforcing proper lifting technique. With the C-205-S on, you’ll be forced to lift from the knees, rather than directly from the waist.
We didn’t find the C-205-S to be flimsy or to have an unreliable feel to it. The elastic and foam were strong, well-constructed and had a really heavy-duty feel to them that we felt would give the user peace of mind even during periods of heavy lifting.
We found the BraceAbility Industrial Work Backbrace to be a close second to the Champion C205-S. It is also very well-constructed, supported the lumbar spine extremely well, and was fully adjustable. The back brace is primarily made of elastic, and didn’t have as much foam as the Champion C205-S, making it slightly less comfortable.
However, we did find that it did an excellent job of protecting the core muscles during bending, squatting and lifting. It also has removable criss-cross style shoulder straps that added another layer of versatility to the overall design. The shoulder straps are also adjustable, and can be tightened to your liking. It also comes in a number of different sizes, and can fit those with waist sizes ranging from 24 to 60 inches.
Our main issue with the BraceAbility Industrial Work Backbrace was the lack of foam. We found it to be efficient at protecting the lumbar spine and providing pain relief, but still found that the elastic had a tendency to dig into the waistline which became very uncomfortable over time. Considering that people like movers, construction workers, or warehouse employees looking for relief may be wearing this brace for long periods of time, we found this to be a little bit of a downside. Still, for the purpose of keeping the spine safe during periods of heavy exertion, it was certainly sturdy enough to get the job done.
#3 ACE Deluxe Back Stabilizer
Also on our list was theACE Deluxe Back Stabilizer . It’s still a solid back brace for those who may be suffering from mild discomfort, but likely won’t be strong enough to protect people with more serious back problems like herniated discs or degenerative disc disease.
It doesn’t have any shoulder straps, but does apply a fair amount of adjustable compression to the lumbar spine and abdomen. That being said, we noticed that most of the stability was centralized in one location, and didn’t cover a large area like the other two on our list. It was medium-sized, measuring in at 4 x 5 x 9.2 inches, and the material, while made of comfortable foam, was thin and offset by the metal stays built in. The metal was extremely uncomfortable, especially when wearing the back brace for long periods of time.
It also only came in two sizes: large and extra-large. While it did have a dual-strap system that allowed for some adjustability, we still found this to be a little bit limiting for those who with smaller or larger waist sizes looking for a solution to back longevity. Again, the ACE Deluxe Back Stabilizer is still a good brace for those who may experience mild back discomfort from time to time or those who see themselves carrying lighter to medium-sized objects. However, we didn’t find it as versatile or strong as the other two we reviewed.
#4 Mueller Lumbar Support Back Brace
The next back brace on our list is the Mueller Lumbar Support Back Brace. Coming in two different sizes, this lumbar lower back brace is excellent at providing pain relief that may come as a result of poor posture or herniated discs.
The Mueller Lumbar Support Back Brace has flexible steel supports for extra stability and dual adjustable straps which ensure a perfect fit, and a removable lumbar pad. I tested this lumbar support belt while conducting a variety of different activities including sitting, walking, driving, and even lifting, and found it to be especially comfortable.
What I like about the Mueller Lumbar Support Back Brace is that they give the option of using a removable lumbar pad, which helps correct poor posture while proving much needed pain relief.
While I found this to be a very comfortable lumbar lower back brace, which didn’t impede my range of motion at all, I can see how it might get in the way if you were a bit bigger than I am. It comes in two sizes, and has some adjustability, but is only accommodating up to a point, which is why I haven’t rated this back brace more highly.
#5 Body Glove 90315 Open Road Back Support
Last on our list is the Body Glove 90315 Open Road Back Support. We found that it alleviated some minor instability and provided some pain relief, and would be a good solution for an elderly person who may want to work on their posture.
It’s made of Lycra spandex and appeared to be focused more on delivering comfort rather than providing exceptionally tight support or pain relief for the lower back. It has a high-rise cut that makes it easy to sit, bend or stand; however, what it provides in flexibility and comfort, it neglects in stability, pain relief, and support.
It also does have shoulder-straps that, while not removable, are adjustable for a comfortable overall fit. It doesn’t come in a wide-variety of sizes, and is generally made for those with waists ranging from 52 inches to 56 inches. Again, it isn’t the kind of back brace you’ll want to wear during heavy strength-training sessions, but is rather the kind of support that is ideal for someone with a more sedentary lifestyle that wants relief, and to preserve their back as they age.
Choosing The Right Back Brace
Based on our findings, we found that the best kind of back brace is one that is not only comfortable to wear, but also does a good job of keeping the lower back steady and neutral while bending, lifting or squatting. It’s easy to assume that every back brace will be adequate in protecting the spine against herniated discs or long-term back pain, but the truth is that if you aren’t careful, a back brace may exacerbate back problems that could have been prevented. They’re also not all made with pain relief in mind. When shopping for one, you’ll want to consider the following:
Pre-existing Back Issues
You’ll have to be honest with yourself about what your needs are. You may be suffering from an overuse injury, a myofascial problem that affects the connective tissue between ligaments, or a lack of cartilage between the disks that is causing your pain. The worst part is, you may not even know it. Go see a doctor before shopping for a back brace, and determine exactly what is causing your discomfort.
Other Preventative Measures
Some back issues may not be easily remedied or fixed by the use of a back brace. They can certainly help, but you may want to consider things like weight-loss, hiring a specialist like a personal trainer or physical therapist, or even getting an MRI to ensure that there are no impending issues that could become worse over time.
If you do exercise on a regular basis, it’ll help to practice good form in your routine, especially when it comes to movements like squats, overhead presses and deadlifts. (Don’t miss out on the benefits of home gym equipment because you don’t protect your ever-important back and spine!)
You’ll also want to incorporate core-strengthening exercises to ensure that the surrounding muscles offer enough support to keep the back from absorbing undue amounts of stress. A back brace is certainly a good investment and is a part of good overall back health, but true longevity usually involves a holistic approach.
For anyone with an active lifestyle, a back brace is essential. It may not be the most exciting product to shop for, but taking your time will certainly pay off in the long run. When it comes to good posture and freedom from chronic pain, every little bit helps. You’ll have to take a well-rounded approach to keeping your back safe by assessing your own activity level, your current amount of pain, as well as practicing proper movement and lifting techniques. Combined with a quality back brace, you’ll be able to experience an active lifestyle pain-free for years to come.