Lately, many of us have taken refuge in a back brace to minimize the pain and for some other post-operative reasons. This is fairly easy to use, doesn’t restrict movements that much, helps its user keep a natural posture, and finally, keeps the pain in check.
There are, however, different schools of thought and controversies regarding the benefits of using a back brace. On the other hand, positive reviews and thousands of uplifting stories about using a back brace make a strong case for considering it.
Still, it would be much better if it didn’t come down to using one. The reason why I am saying this is because wearing a back brace won’t solve your pain issue permanently. It can only relieve a portion of it so much. So, don’t weigh in too much on it.
Unfortunately, if you’re struggling from staggering back pain, then consult your doctor and ensure it’s okay for you to use one.
In this article, you’ll know all the little things about wearing a back brace and how to take care of them.
You’ll also learn about different categories of braces and which will suit your needs the best. And finally, we’ll see whether you can sleep with a back brace on or not. Spoiler alert: You can. We will discuss the tips and tricks you need to learn to get a night of sound sleep while wearing a product such as this.
Let’s jump straight into the action… but not so hastily that you might hurt your back.
What is a Back Brace?
To boil down the idea of a back brace into one simple idea is to say that these are wearable supports that can help you deal with pain and improve your posture. There are a couple of ways that you can approach it. The first one is to always consult your physician before taking refuge in one.
On the other hand, there are non-prescription back braces that you can use. However, you must follow the instructions on how to use them very carefully. Otherwise, it can elevate the pain rather than minimize it.
How do they work and to what end?
Although the functionality of a back brace is still a topic of debate, there are still some beneficial outcomes. For example, a back brace lowers muscle tension and back pain. If you wear a back brace, you’ll have a better posture. A good back brace is designed to distribute the weight in the spine.
Not to mention, a back brace can significantly increase the rate of your post-op healing process. Besides, if your work environment is somewhat risky for your back, you can wear one for healthy spinal structure.
There’s more. Let’s assume (let’s hope not) that you have injured your back or you have a weak spine. In this case, a back brace can provide much-needed stability for you. It’ll heal your pain and also keep you safe from other injuries.
Moreover, if you are overweight, then there’s a high risk that you will put a strain on your back. A back brace will take some of that load and minimize pressure on your spine, vertebrae, and back muscles.
The functionality list is longer than you can imagine. I haven’t even scratched the surface of it here. I just wanted to portray a general idea that might help you lean on this idea if you’re second-guessing being influenced by negative opinions.
Anyway, let’s see how can you get the best out of your back brace.
Using a Back Brace:The Way It Should Be
Before delving into that topic, I want to clear up some things. As you can guess, not every back brace is for everyone. Certain braces have particular duties to perform. So, before spending your money, you want to settle down and buy the correct one designed to suit your needs.
Speaking of which, there are roughly three types of back braces. The first one is the flexible back brace. These are meant for poor souls suffering from excruciating lower back pain. Then there are Rigid and Semi-rigid braces. These are also for helping lower back pain, but they work differently.
Deciding What’s Best for you
How do you decide which one you need? Well, practically, your doctor will show you the right way. However, there’s no harm in doing some homework on your own, right? Coming back to the point, if you want, let’s say…more versatile back support, you might find comfort in flexible back braces.
Generally made of softer materials, so they will have bendy and flexible characteristics, a flexible brace will let you move a bit more freely. And since soft materials are used, flexible braces won’t put heavy pressure on your body.
They are designed to maintain proper posture structure and shift weight off your spinal column. Besides, a flexible back brace also keeps the extra movement of your spinal discs in check.
Therefore, you might find solace in a flexible back brace if you have weak joints. It will keep your discs’ micromotions in check. Hence, you’ll have a stable, proper spine position.
Moving on from a flexible back brace, let’s focus on who might benefit from wearing a rigid back brace. For example, suppose your back pain is skyrocketing, or you are recovering after an operation. In that case, a rigid back brace will do your back a world of good.
This type of brace has a solid structure. They don’t bend or twist. In contrast with the flexible back brace, this one puts firm pressure on your torso and, in a sense, totally immobilizes your whole back. As a result, all the weight will be shifted from your spinal column.
If you have an injured back, a rigid back brace will completely remove the pressure. You’ll also feel a lot better since it’ll relieve pain by reducing the micro-movements of the spinal elements.
Now, let’s take a look at semi-rigid braces. As you can well imagine, a semi-rigid brace will have the characteristics of both flexible and rigid braces. To be honest, this is just a flexible brace with some added stiff padding. If you want some flexibility, you can remove these paddings and vice versa.
Trying a Back Brace on for the First Time
The idea is fairly simple. First, wrap the brace all around the back. The wings will be on both sides of your torso. And then simply put together these wings over your tummy. If it’s too tight or loose, you can make necessary adjustments by pulling the tabs on both sides of the brace.
Sometimes, wearing a back brace alone could be a little tricky, especially if you already have an injured back. In that case, ask for help.
If there’s no one around, don’t worry. Instead, use your chair as a proxy torso and set the brace around it while keeping the wings open. Then, holding the wings sit on the chair and gently stand up. After that, connect the wings as usual. This simple trick will come in very handy, trust me.
Another thing that I want to point out is that you make a habit of wearing a cotton shirt under your brace. It’ll save you from annoying skin irritation. After all, you always want a nuance-free experience with your brace.
We’ll talk a bit more about this matter later but for now, let’s see whether you can sleep wearing a back brace or not.
Sleeping with a Back Brace on
Wearing a back brace while you’re sleeping doesn’t sound that much amicable or common, right? But, on the other hand, we are all well accustomed to wearing it while walking, sitting, or even working out.
You can escape a little bit from the pain during the day wearing one. However, there are scenarios where you may also have to wear a back brace at night. You know what I’m talking about if you’re suffering from scoliosis. So, how can you wear a back brace while sleeping?
Wearing a back brace while you’re in deep slumber can be a bit uncomfortable. To make it work, you have to make some small adjustments.
Go to your bed when you are ready for some well-rested shut-eye. First, back up and sit gently on the side of your bed. Now, pull both your legs simultaneously onto the bed. Don’t worry. The brace will keep you from twisting your back.
Using the leg roll method, you can make the whole process a lot easier. It’s super easy. Just bring your feet closer to the bed and roll in…like a log. It’ll help you get into your favorite position on the bed. What if you have to get out of bed? Well, do the same thing but in reverse.
Once you’ve done that, ensure you tuck your knees up. Don’t sleep weird. Always keep your head and neck aligned with your back brace to prevent further damage.
As for the arms, you can leave them straight out or place them over your chest just like Count Dracula does when he sleeps in the morning. Don’t close those eyes just yet. Make sure the placement of your pillows and the blankets are to your liking.
If you’ve watched The Kominsky Method, you may remember Alan Arkin advising Mike Douglas to put a pillow under the legs in one of their conversations. You can use the same trick here.
Simply place a pillow under your legs. It will help the legs release pressure and keep your tendons in the back relaxed and stress-free while you sleep.
As for sleeping on your side, it is strongly advised that you place a pillow between your knees. And for the head, go with a thick pillow. It will keep the head and neck in proper alignment with your spine.
To make sleeping with a back brace less irritating, always go with the one made of breathable material. Therefore, you won’t sweat that much in your sleep.
Moving on, be careful what kind of pillows you use. By all means, restrain yourself from stuffing your bed with tall, big pillows. They look nice and comfy but, in this case, please avoid them.
As a matter of fact, a big pillow can push your head forward and cause excessive stress on the spine. Instead, get a pillow that will let you rest your head in a neutral position.
It is worth mentioning that don’t use pillows that are too soft or worn out. They will put strains on your back. And don’t forget to replace your pillows every once a year.
Taking Care of Your Brace
You being on this quiet corner of the internet could mean two things.
One, you’re new to this area, and two, you want to improve your experience wearing a back brace. If the first condition applies to you, this part could assist you in the future.
Here we’ll see how you should take care of your brace and the skin that comes in contact with it.
Keep it Clean
You’ll find a proper washing instruction manual when you buy a quality back brace. If you take care of it, you can wear it for a long time. Unfortunately, it is by default that most of the braces you can find on the market do not support machine wash.
There’s a reason for that. A rigorous or heavy washing method could damage the fabric and the integrity of the back brace. That’s why you should always hand wash it using a mild soap. If you own a semi-rigid or rigid brace, you should remove the paddings and wash them separately.
If you wear it while you’re working, there’s a good chance it will house debris and dust from your work environment. In this case, you can use a lint roller to remove them and then wash the brace.
And before you want to use it again, make sure that it has dried completely. A soggy brace could cause skin irritations and other discomforts as you’ll probably wear it for longer.
Take care of your skin
It’s natural that if you wear a back brace for a long time, you’ll be exposed to skin aggravations like rashes or sores at some point. Therefore, it’s a good idea to wash the area that stays under the brace regularly. Also, you may want to wear a soft cotton shirt under the brace to minimize skin irritations.
One more thing to consider is that try to go with a back brace with breathable materials. They won’t create that much sweat under the brace. Therefore, you’ll get a fairly comfortable experience wearing a brace whether you’re sleeping or going about your day.
I know sleeping with lower back pain can sometimes succumb to a nightmarish experience. However, if you follow the instructions correctly, you can numb it down quite a bit.
Now, try to avoid using a back brace while you sleep. Only do it if you have to or if there’s no other way. For it could seriously worsen your pre-existing conditions.
But as I said earlier, if you follow the instructions and consult your doctor, you can manage your pain and still enjoy a good night’s sleep.
All you have to do is be very cautious while choosing a back brace. Make sure it has quality material and suits your needs. And for a comfortable sleep while wearing one, try to follow the instructions I’ve mentioned above. Hopefully, you’ll feel much better than before.