You might find solace in wearing a back brace if you’re suffering from lower back pain. A well-fit back brace can prevent your spine from moving too much. Therefore, it will block further damage from happening to your back.
But mind you, this is no permanent solution for your back pain. You must make some necessary changes to your lifestyle if you don’t want to deal with this problem. Also, a back brace will only subside your back pain a bit.
Therefore, I guess you’ve asked yourself this question: if they don’t provide good results, should I spend money buying them? That’s where you’ll find this article useful.
Its primary purpose is to explore possible ways to make yourself a good quality back brace at home. Besides, the root causes of back pain and how one can prevent such injury will also be discussed at length.
So, if you’re experiencing severe back pain and want to use a back brace for that, then this little corner of the internet may help you a lot by saving money and time.
Before delving into making an effective back brace, we’ll first take some minor detours and explore several important issues.
Now, if you’re in a hurry, you can skip all the following segments and move on to making yourself a brace using everyday stuff.
Back Pain: The Arch Nemesis of Our Sedentary lifestyle
Over the past two decades, back pain has emerged as THE most seen issue one can hit in the states. Before you even realize it, the mild discomfort morphs into a sudden pain that’s very sharp and nests your spine.
Now it could introduce itself normally in two obvious ways- it can either come suddenly…for example, from an accident, awkward fall or slip, heavy-lifting things in warehouses, or it could creep in slowly as we begin to age.
With that said, let’s take a good look at our spine from an anatomical point of view to have a better understanding of that region.
Basic Elements that make up our Spine and Back
Our spine works like a single unit, but several parts are built-in for complex movements. These different parts work cohesively and thereby support our body. However, if even one of the sections has any problem, you’ll experience back pain.
You’ll find four parts of the spine. They are the Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar, Sacrum, and coccyx sections. And these spine sections (back, in turn) also include Vertebrae, spinal cord, intervertebral discs, ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
Let’s see what these parts are and what their functions are.
33 vertebrae interlock each other while stacking one by one. They save our spinal cords from damage. Besides, they have three functional components.
First, they make up the vertebral body for load-bearing. Secondly, they protect the spinal cord and the transverse processes for ligament attachment.
The spinal cord is a column of nerve tissue stretching from the base of your head to the center of the back. The intervertebral discs are like safety pads that stay between the spinal discs. They work like cushions and maintain space for the spine.
And then there are ligaments. These are tough but flexible and keep the vertebrae in their place. On the other hand, the tendons are tissues that work as a connector between muscle and bone. Finally, there are muscles. They support our spines and help us move about.
Your Chances of Getting Back Pain
No one is safe from back pain. Anyone can have it. There are, however, some things that do increase the risk of having it. What are they? Let’s find out.
First of all, if you don’t have a fit physique, you are more likely to have back pain at some part of your life, if not soon. This includes having a weak back structure and abdominal muscles.
They will not support the spine. Another common mistake is engaging in extreme exercise after being “On and Off” for a considerable period.
Secondly, and it’s the most obvious reason: obesity. If you don’t maintain a healthy diet, your body mass will increase and soon pressure your spine.
Then there’s the risk of our jobs. If the job requires us to frequently lift weights, pull, push or twist…it can cause some serious injuries to your back. Now, desk jobs aren’t safe either. If we spend too much time sitting down, then back pain might slowly creep in.
Besides, as we begin to age, especially after 45 years, the slightest awkward movement or heavy-lifting could make way for a lower back injury.
Different Back Pains People Can Have
Specialists usually categorize back pain in three different sections. The first one is called acute back pain. It will show itself suddenly and can last from one or two days to several weeks.
The second one is known as subacute back pain. This type of pain can trigger without any warning. You won’t notice it for a few days. However, it generally lasts for more than a month to three months.
And the last one is called chronic back pain, which can last for more than three months. Like subacute back pain, it could also surface suddenly or develop slowly as you age.
The Reasons People Have Back Pain
Back pain is tough to detect. No test or imaging study can foretell this problem. There are, however, some conditions that could be linked to your back pain.
These include any mechanical or structural problems that might develop in your spine, discs, muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your back.
The most apparent reason is muscle or ligament strain. For example, it could happen if you are involved in lifting heavy objects frequently. Besides, suppose you don’t have an excellent physical condition. In that case, the slightest awkward movement could strain your back muscles and, God forbid, spinal ligaments.
Not to mention, if you are overweight and have weak back muscles, you could also hurt yourself pretty badly. Moving on, bulging or ruptured discs can cause some severe back pain. The soft material inside these disks can sometimes bulge or even rupture and consequently press on a nerve.
Among other leading causes of back pain, there is Arthritis and Osteoporosis. The former can seriously affect your lower back. In addition, there are cases where arthritis in the spine leads to a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord. A condition such as this is also called spinal stenosis.
The latter happens when you get older. And as you age, your bones will become more porous and brittle. And during these years, your spine’s vertebrae become prone to painful fractures.
The Best Way to Prevent Back Pain
There are no secret mantras for preventing back pain. You can, however, significantly increase your odds of preventing it. All you have to do is improve your physical condition and practice some proper body mechanics. Let’s find out what they are-
Good-old regular low-impact activities are the doorway to a healthy and muscular back. They will increase your back strength while allowing your muscle to support your back better.
How can you do that? Simple, go for a walk or swim regularly. Activities like these will calm your mind and keep your body in tune.
Now, the activities mentioned above are not always going to cut it. In that case, you must focus on building your muscle to gain more strength and flexibility. So first, work on strengthening your core by doing some abdominal and back muscle exercises.
Next, wage war on unhealthy food habits. Finally, by all means, keep your body weight in check. Remember, being overweight can and will put strains on your back muscles. So if you’re experiencing some back pain, try losing some weight. The outcome might surprise you. Also, try quitting smoking.
There are also some standard codes that you should try to maintain in your day-to-day activities. For instance, you could check your walking method. Always walk straight.
Use a low footstool if you have to stand on your feet for a more extended period. Place one foot on it and switch between feet regularly. It will put less stress on your back.
Sit straight. This is very important. Use a chair that has good lumbar support. I can’t stress this enough. Always keep your knees and hips level. And don’t remain seated for too long. Take a break every hour and try changing your position.
With that said, let’s move on to the next key subject, back brace.
Back Brace: When should you use it?
Using a back brace could be a tricky business. It’s not that simple, to be honest. You can’t just go to your local store, buy one, and start using it. Of course, you could, but consultation with your doctor is highly recommended before you use a back brace.
Now, besides helping you with back pain, a back brace could be helpful in various conditions. For instance, a prescribed rigid back brace will significantly help you with your post-operative healing. This is because it will provide stability and reduce pressure on your spinal column.
If you are suffering from Isthmic spondylolisthesis, a back brace can help you reduce vertebral slippage. It will also help you improve your walking ability and keep the pain level to a minimum. Speaking of which, a good back brace also helps reduce painful macro-motions if you suffer from Spondylosis.
Back braces can also prove to be fruitful in case of Osteoarthritis and vertebral compression fractures. A rigid or semi-rigid back brace could reduce pressure on the affected facet joints in both cases. They also make day-to-day tasks much more manageable.
And if you are suffering from low back muscle strain, you could use a flexible back brace. It will help you alleviate muscle tension. When you wear a back brace, the inherent heat can relax tense muscles.
Making yourself a Back Brace
Now, if you don’t want to buy a back brace, that’s fine. You can still make yourself one that will help relieve the aching back pain. Now they might or might not be as beneficial as the braces you find at the store. But there’s no sin in trying to make one for yourself, right?
Let’s see how you can do so…
First Method: Soft Towel
There are a couple of ways you can make yourself a back brace at home. The first one is relatively simple. If you have to spend a lot of time sitting down, this might help you. I’ve seen a lot of people using a paper roll between their back and the chair they are sitting on. But there is a problem with it.
The thing is, when you use a paper roll, the pressure from your back will soon flatten it. Also, it’ll be less comfortable. So instead, you could use your very towel for this task.
Grab one and roll it nicely. Next, push your hip towards the chair and place the rolled towel between your back and the chair. Remember to sit straight. And voila…you have a brace.
A desk job that requires you to sit for a long time could be rendered a slow ticking bomb. You may not realize it, but those back pains will soon come uninvited. So, sit smart, alter your positions and try the simple trick mentioned above.
It’ll help you keep a good spine position, and if you’re already experiencing back pain, it will help you reduce it by a lot. It’s cheap, easy and very effective.
Next, we’ll see how you can maintain a proper posture by making yourself a posture brace in no time.
Second Method: Using Simple Strap
Now, what I mean by good posture is that it will put much less strain on your supporting muscles and ligaments. So, hopefully, you’ll make you realize how important it is to maintain a proper posture.
To make this work, all you’ll ever need is a strap that is roughly 3 meters long. You can use anything that doesn’t have a rough texture.
So, the first thing you have to do is pretend you’re measuring your chest. Then, simply place the strap over your upper back and hold each end with your hands. Next, drape both of the ends over the respective shoulder. Don’t cross them in front or overlap them.
After that, cross each end in the back like the ‘X’ shape with both of your hands. Keep pulling the straps (not too tightly) until you feel a “Strangling” sensation in your trapezius muscles.
You will feel it in your upper back region around the neck. By tightening the strap, the shoulder blades will automatically be pulled in.
Finally, bring the strap ends to your front and use your scouting day experience to tie a knot, and you’re done! Now, you might feel a bit uncomfortable at the beginning if the adjustments are too tight. So, walk around and adjust the straps until you’re comfortable with them.
This simple technique is guaranteed to surprise you. It’ll align your structure properly. And by doing so, you are basically putting less pressure on your back muscle. However, I hate to say this, but by no means this is a permanent solution.
Remember to work out daily and work on strengthening and stretching your muscles. Such activities will help you maintain a good posture. And hopefully, you won’t have to search the internet for articles like this..
Third and Final Method: A Bit Finer and Elaborate Process
Before jumping into the process, let’s make a list of things you’ll need. To get the correct measurements of your back region, you’ll need measuring tape and chalk. A high-density urethane foam and power mesh fabric for the brace should be just fine.
You’ll need fabric scissors and a straight-edge knife to cut them according to the measurements. And to put everything together, you’ll need a needle, thread, Velcro strips, and permanent epoxy. So now, let’s go through the process.
To begin, take measurements of your lower and middle back from the tailbone up to the middle of your back. Then find out the width of your back. Next, grab those high-density urethane foam.
Make sure they have a thickness of 1/8 inches. If this material is too thick or too thin, it might result in discomfort. Anyway, cut the foam according to the measurement that you took. After that, leave the cut pieces aside and move on to the next step.
Remember the measurements? Now, lengthen the height and width of your back brace by 2 inches. Now, lay out two power mesh fabric pieces and trace those extended dimensions onto them. Then cut the fabric to the measurement you took.
Moving on, place the foam pieces on top of each other. Once done, slowly insert the foam pieces in between the power mesh sheets. Time to use the needle and thread.
Carefully hem all the sides, and you’ll have yourself a decent posture support padding. Bear with me a little bit longer…you’re halfway there.
Time to retake some measurements. This time, measure the distance from the left side of your back to the center of your tummy. Then, do the exact thing for your right side. Now, take two more measures. One-over, you’re your shoulders and straight down to the middle point of your belly. Do this for each side.
Channel your inner Edward Scissorhands and cut four 3-inch-wide power mesh bands to the dimensions you just took. Two will work as a connector to support the padding around your tummy, and the other two will function as shoulder straps.
Sew these straps to all the edges of the support padding. Two on both sides and the other two on the top right and top left…you get the idea. Now, what you want to do is get a hold of one 3ʺ x 3ʺ Velcro strand. Cut and glue it to the underside at the opposite side of the right middle strap. And, your straps are done.
After that, focus on making the shoulder straps. The general idea is the same as the previous one. Take the waistband strap and measure 2 inches back from the Velcro ends to it. Then, repeat the same cut and glue process and attach the topside of each waistband strap according to those measurements.
Finally, cut one 3X3 (measured in inches) Velcro strap under the belt for the shoulder strap. Remember to glue it at the other end of the left shoulder strap.
Do this same thing for the right shoulder, and that’s it. If you follow all these steps carefully, you should have a fine posture brace in front of you.
Wrapping it Up
It’s customary to end stuff in a good-hopeful tone. But I’m afraid that’s not going to happen in this case. Back braces are by no means a solution to your back pain.
I’ve mentioned this several times already only to make a point. I mean, there are cases where it’s agreed that back braces can help you reduce some pain.
However, this subject still needs further study and the results so far are nothing but ambiguous. There have been reports that using a back brace could result in core muscle atrophy if you rely on it too much. But again, there are also results that are tuned in the opposite direction.
It’s time you make peace with the idea that using a back brace will never be a permanent treatment plan. It might minimize the back pain for sometime but it’ll not solve it totally.
So, what you can do is stay away from certain activities that put too much pressure on your back. Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.