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 a physically active job such as nurse or construction worker. 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.
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:
- Discourage learning and using proper lifting technique, with users relying solely on the back brace to maintain proper form. Solution: Know how properly activate your core stabilizer muscles and use the posture brace as a second layer of protection when needed.
- 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”. Solution: Don’t get cocky. Ask for help and use other lifting equipment if necessary.
- Cause discomfort, often due to riding up or rubbing against your skin and resulting in skin lesions. Solution: Wear an undershirt. You can get custom-fitted back braces but they are expensive.
- Cause muscle atrophy (in very rare cases) by doing the work that the core stabilizer muscles should be doing. Solution: 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.
Why You Should Use A Back Brace
With that said, back braces still provide numerous benefits as long as you know your way around their pitfalls. 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 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.
They claim that the brace 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.