Lumbar support back braces, also known as Lumbar Sacral Orthoses or LSO braces, play a huge role today in the lives of many people, both those who have already sustained a back injury and/or had back surgery as well as those who use them as a preventative measure when they are lifting and carrying loads. The braces are comprised of a stiff, body-hugging belt along with shoulder straps to secure the support and hold the belt in position. Those with less support resemble a corset and are comprised of fabric for the most part, while more robust braces are rigid and often feature additional panels for added stiffness.
Now that so many individuals work in giant warehouse stores and for delivery services, routinely lifting and moving heavy boxes and other containers, such braces have become even more essential to our everyday lives. Even those whose lifestyles are more or less sedentary often must lift heavy objects around the home; lso braces are also now worn for these types of tasks as well, as we care for our homes and gardens.
Wearing Lso Braces for Lifting Loads at Work and at Home
As most people now know, the process of lifting and carrying objects must be accomplished while using good posture and correct body mechanics in order to avoid injuring the back. Last year, despite the increasing awareness of the importance of such practices, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that there were no less than one million reported cases of workers who had experienced back injuries while on the job; such incidents represent one in five of all workplace injuries.
Wearing lumbar support braces not only helps the wearer use appropriate body mechanics while lifting but also supports the spine by increasing pressure in the abdomen, thereby giving support to the spine from within the body. Such braces provide a different form of security for those who are lifting objects in that they will force the body core back into the correct lifting position even if the person neglects to use the correct body mechanics.
Correct Lifting Techniques are Crucial
Correct lifting techniques include the following:
⪸� Getting as close to the load as possible and adopting an open stance, with feet shoulder-width apart;
⪸� Lifting the weight with the back completely straight, using the leg muscles, not the back muscles, to do the actual lifting;
⪸� Keeping the weight as close to the body as possible;
⪸� Using the hips to change direction instead of twisting the upper body;
⪸� Placing the weight down again by bending the knees while keeping the back completely straight.
By keeping the back completely straight, Lsos are therefore an important means of helping to ensure that lifting is completed in the safest way possible -- while the wearer still must practice good technique while moving objects from place to place. They are so commonplace -- and the materials with which they are made now are so comfortable -- that many might be tempted to wear the braces during their entire workday, or for an extended period of time around the home, even when weights are not being lifted.
Overuse of A Lso Brace Will Weaken Abdominal/Core Muscles
However, that practice poses a problem in itself. Medical professionals are unanimous in recommending that lso braces, along with most of the many similar appliances worn for back pain relief, should be worn for only as long as needed to complete the tasks at hand. Wearing such braces for an extended period of time, even just for the duration of one work shift, will actually cause more problems in the long run.
One of the main advantages of back belts, including lso braces, is that they keep the abdomen tucked in, thereby increasing the body's own support for the spine from within. Many people don't realize that a strong abdomen actually helps the back in this way, by providing natural support for the spine. Wearing a lso back brace will lead over time to a weakening, rather than strengthening, of these crucial muscle groups -- thereby increasing, rather than decreasing, the chances of back injury.
Most medical authorities now state that people using a support brace for lifting loads should wear them for a maximum of only two hours every day, which will allow the body to increase its natural ability to use and strengthen the abdominal muscles.
Wearing Lso Brace After Spine Or Back Injury
Lso's cover the spine as far up as the ninth thoracic vertebra, called T9. The braces, which feature hard panels to increase their rigidity for these patients, are recommended by physicians when a patient has experienced a fracture in the spine from this vertebra down through the lumbar spine all the way to the first sacral vertebra, or S1. That means that this type of brace will cover a total of ten vertebrae, completely immobilizing this entire portion of the back. For fractures, physicians usually recommend that a lso brace be worn for a total of three months, with a maximum of up to six months, while the body heals as the spine is partially immobilized.
When a support brace is used to stabilize the spine after injuries, as well as surgeries including laminectomies and spinal fusions, the wearer should not lift over 5 pounds in weight. In addition, they should never sleep with the device on, a caution which of course also holds true for all other wearers. In addition, prolonged sitting or standing should also be avoided by all those wearing lso braces, because this puts even more pressure on the spine.
All patients eventually must wean themselves off the brace, however, by means of taking between one to two weeks of increasingly frequent breaks from it.
In summary, a lso brace gives much-needed support while lifting heavy weights at work and around the home, and plays a crucial role after major back injuries and surgeries. But extreme care must be taken by all those wearing them not to overuse them so that the abdominal muscles do not weaken.