If you don’t get a back brace that matches your size, there’ll be no saying bye-bye to your back problems. Because not-your-size meaning not-properly-wore meaning not-using-its-hundred-per cent-potential.
So, the best way to ensure your product is working fine is to put your fingers on something that perfectly fits. But finding the right size isn’t that easy.
Spinal braces or belts don’t come at regular waist sizes. Hence, if you plan to buy it with the same intent of buying pants, you’ll have the wrong one.
I had chronic back pain a couple of years ago. My doctor recommended back support for me which I had to wear for a few weeks. Unfortunately, the first two weren’t in size, and I had to buy a third one.
Yes, that was bad, and as a patient of chronic back pain myself, I don’t want people to go through what I did. So, in this article, I’ll give you an idea about back brace sizes so that you’ll find the perfect piece.
Before jumping into the size chart, let me give you an idea about the available types first because I don’t want you to wear a rigid brace for everyday muscle strain.
Back Brace Types We Can Get on the Market
No matter what kind of brace you’ve got, it has only ONE JOB: removing spinal tension to ensure weakened or damaged muscles and tissues heal. So, wherein lies the difference? The difference, my dear Watsons, lies in the materials used to make the device. Let me explain while I discuss the types.
Rigid Back Braces
Doctors prescribe Rigid or medical braces for spinal fractures and injuries. Some say these braces provide the highest level of security. Unfortunately, you can’t buy these in traditional online marketplaces. After a doctor’s prescription, these come in a customized size for the specific person.
These feature stiff panels on the front, back, and sides. As a result, these braces hold the lower body like no other. The panels are made of solid plastic or metals. A soft layer of clothing covers the torso despite having rigid bars inside.
Since rigid belts contain rigid metals, it’s only for severe back issues. However, medical conditions like Scoliosis, Spinal Stenosis, Spinal Arthritis, Herniated Disk, and Spondylosis are some cases where doctors insist on these patients.
They also recommend these braces after all kinds of back surgery. Because rigid belts apply firm pressure to provide necessary spinal support.
Semi-Rigid Back Braces
Rigid bars and soft cotton/elastic clothing make Semi-Rigid Braces. Where solid bars stay inside of the soft layer.
Most of the time, the hard bars are removable. This way, you can easily switch between elastic and semi-rigid braces from time to time.
A woman’s corset brace is one of the most famous semi-rigid braces out there. These braces are a great combination of vertical metal stays and an “All-Around” cotton layer. The vertical bars stay firm with the lower body to provide adequate back support.
Semi-Rigid brace offers more body movement than rigid ones. Not much, but enough to conduct regular activities.
Flexible Back Support Devices
Flexible braces are made of soft materials such as cotton blends, neoprene and canvas. Corsets and lumbar belts fall into this category. Generally, the braces that we can find in super shops and online marketplaces are known as flexible ones.
These products release spinal tension by applying slight pressure on the torso. This way, injured or weakened muscles get rest and proper time to heal.
The two belts mentioned above completely restrict your upper and lower body movements because of their rigid or semi-rigid build. Not with flexible braces.
These belts are entirely made of elastic. As a result, you get some freedom to twist and bend.
However, I once tried to touch my toes wearing a flexible brace. Guess what, I couldn’t. In fact, my hands couldn’t get past my knees. Hence, I won’t encourage you to get your hopes up and be super athletic wearing a flexible back brace.
As I said earlier, you can easily order these braces from amazon or Walmart. But it’s always better to consult with a doctor first.
I’ll assume you’ve already talked with your chiropractor, and he/she gave you a big thumbs up to carry on. So, let’s get to the brace sizing and understand which size you need and which you don’t.
The Size Chart
Most back braces come in two standard sizes: S-M and L-XL. Three factors such as height, weight, and waist decide which one is perfect for you. Let’s break down these factors and find the right brace for you.
S to M-Size Braces
You’ll need an S-M brace if your waist is between 27 to 37 inches. Since there’re three factors, it’s impossible to find a product only with the waist size. Your height and weight must also fall into the required range.
Suppose, you have a 35-inch waist and your height and weight are 4’11” and 190 lbs. Can you use an S-M brace here?
The answer is No. Because your height and waist size fall into the proper zone, your weight is way above. In short, all three factors must be in the range. So, what’s the ZONE/RANGE/LIMIT?
Waist size is kinda straightforward, but height and weight aren’t.
For instance, people from 5’1” to 5’5” must weigh under 180 lbs. On the other hand, a 5’7″ person should be below 170 lbs. to put on an S-M brace. It becomes lower for 5’9” inches and 5’11 inches. They must weigh only 160 and 140 lbs.
If your height is more than 5’11”, S-M braces aren’t for you. Instead, let me give you a table so you can visualize it more clearly.
|4 feet 11 inches and less||170 lbs.||27-inch to 37-inch|
|5 feet 1 inches and less||180 lbs.||27-inch to 37-inch|
|5 feet 3 inches and less||180 lbs.||27-inch to 37-inch|
|5 feet 5 inches and less||180 lbs.||27-inch to 37-inch|
|5 feet 7 inches and less||170 lbs.||27-inch to 37-inch|
|5 feet 9 inches and less||160 lbs.||27-inch to 37-inch|
|5 feet 11 inches and less||140 lbs.||27-inch to 37-inch|
Like the S-M brace, L-XL has its’ own range based on the same three factors. Generally, these braces are for plus-size people. If your waist is between 35 to 47-inch, these braces are for you.
I’ve already told you about how sizing works for a back brace. So let’s not waste time and see which people can wear L-XL braces.
|4 feet 11 inches||180 lbs. to 220 lbs.||35-inch to 47-inch|
|5 feet 1 inches||190 lbs. to 230 lbs.||35-inch to 47-inch|
|5 feet 3 inches||190 lbs. to 230 lbs.||35-inch to 47-inch|
|5 feet 5 inches||190 lbs. to 230 lbs.||35-inch to 47-inch|
|5 feet 7 inches||180 lbs. to 230 lbs.||35-inch to 47-inch|
|5 feet 9 inches||170 lbs. to 230 lbs.||35-inch to 47-inch|
|5 feet 11 inches||150 lbs. to 230 lbs.||35-inch to 47-inch|
|6 feet 1 inches||160 lbs. to 230 lbs.||35-inch to 47-inch|
|6 feet 3 inches||160 lbs. to 230 lbs.||35-inch to 47-inch|
|6 feet 5 inches||160 lbs. to 220 lbs.||35-inch to 47-inch|
|6 feet 7 inches||170 lbs. to 220 lbs.||35-inch to 47-inch|
I hope these two tables will help you get your hands on the perfect piece. Just put your height, weight, and waist size and find the required one.
Well, there’s a slight difference between regular-pant and back brace measurements. How?
The perfect area for a brace on your lower body is between under the ribs and above the hips. So, measuring your waist to put on a back brace isn’t right.
The right way is to measure around your belly button. You need the whole circumference around your belly button to take the exact measurement. For women, it’s better to measure around the broadest part of the hips.
Last but not least, if you fall between S-M and L-XL, get the L-XL one. Since back braces have Velcro for tightening, you can easily fit a large belt onto your body. On the other hand, you can’t do anything for a shorter one. Hence, it’s better to grab a relatively more extensive belt.
The Bottom Line
A back brace is not just some medical device for serious back problems. You can also use it in everyday usage. For the last ten to twenty years, it has successfully reduced everyday back pain and muscle strain for frequent heavy lifters.
But a big chunk of the success rate depends on how perfectly you wear it. So before wearing it, you need to know a perfect size first.
If you’ve gone through the whole article, you should have an idea now about the size of a back brace you need. Not only that, but I’ve also covered the three vital factors that select your brace category and stuff.
I hope this article answered all of your questions regarding back brace sizing.