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Best Back Braces

Updated November 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 101 Models Considered
  • 11 Hours Researched
  • 2 Experts Interviewed
  • 121 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best back braces

    Last Updated November 2018

    An aching back can put a serious damper on day-to-day activities, whether the pain is caused by injury, strain, or incorrect posture. Even simple tasks like bending over, standing up, or sitting at a desk can become unbearable. A back brace can promote recovery and reduce symptoms of pain and discomfort by giving you extra support where you need it most. But with a vast array of back braces on the market, finding the right one can be overwhelming. Luckily, we're here to support you.

    At BestReviews, we strive to provide our readers with all the information they need to find the best products the market has to offer. We consult the experts, do the research, and perform independent testing in our labs. Free manufacturer samples are never part of our selection process, so our opinions remain honest and objective.

    Now, take a load off and read on to learn everything you need to know about choosing a back brace. We've bent over backward to compile the detailed shopping guide below. In a hurry? No problem. Skip straight to our product list above to select the most suitable option.

    A back brace is unlikely to correct your posture without your help. You'll need to work with your brace for lasting results.

    Why use a back brace?

    Almost everyone experiences back pain at some point in his or her life. While many cases may resolve themselves over time, chronic back pain can drastically impact your quality of life.

    For those who are unable to undergo surgery and don't respond to other conventional treatment methods, such as physical therapy or pain medication, a back brace may provide some much-needed relief.

    Depending on the style and the level of support it provides, wearing a back brace can also help with the following.

    Lynda
    EXPERT CONSULTANT

    Lynda is a Physical Therapist with extensive training in musculoskeletal and pelvic health physical therapy. She is credentialed in the McKenzie System of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT) and teaches this system to the senior Physical Therapy students at the University of Toronto, Canada. She realized one of her dreams by starting her own Physical Therapy & Wellness Clinic. When not trying to stamp out injury, Lynda can be found on her bike or hanging out with her husband and two awesome kids.


    Lynda  |  Physical Therapist
    • Aid recovery by restricting movement of injured areas

    • Provide stability and promote healing following surgery

    • Help improve and correct posture

    • Reduce the risk of injury caused by strain while lifting heavy objects

    • Lessen back pain through warmth and compression

    • Offer support during everyday activities

    • Soothe and stabilize arthritic joints

    • Remind wearer to use proper form when lifting and exercising
       

    Although a back brace can help manage pain, it's important to remember that simply wearing a brace is seldom the sole solution.

    In many instances, a more holistic approach that includes physical therapy and exercise may be required for complete rehabilitation.

    EXPERT TIP

    One study found that injuries fell by approximately 33% after a consistent policy on back support use had been adopted.


    Lynda  | Physical Therapist

    Types of back braces

    Back braces come in a wide selection of styles and sizes – over 30, to be exact – all of which fall under two broad categories.

    Rigid back braces

    These heavy-duty braces have a hard, molded shell designed to immobilize the spine and surrounding muscle tissue, restricting movement by as much as 50%.

    Rigid back braces help keep the spinal column in proper alignment and are typically used after surgery or in the ongoing treatment of a condition like scoliosis.

    Wear a thin layer of clothing under your back brace to reduce friction and help prevent skin irritation.

    Corset/elastic back braces

    Corset braces generally consist of polyester, nylon, and rubber, and many have integrated metal panels (stays) for added stability.

    These braces are available in different lengths and offer a combination of support, compression, and soothing warmth.

    With a flexible design that allows for a more natural range of motion, these back braces are suitable for everyday use.

    Soft braces can also act as a reminder to take it easy and may be used by anyone seeking relief from mild to moderate back pain.

    EXPERT TIP

    It often is not a great idea to restrict movement too much, as the body is meant to keep moving in all planes, and that helps to keep blood flowing throughout the body, which helps with healing.


    Lynda  | Physical Therapist

    How to choose a back brace

    With so many options available, finding the right back brace can be a challenge. It can be helpful to keep the following considerations in mind as you shop.

    • Identify the source of the pain. This is hands down the most important step in finding a back brace that works. Those with occasional pain who are fairly certain of the cause will still need to select an appropriate brace. For example, if you suffer from mid- to upper-back pain and suspect the culprit is poor posture, consider a posture corrector to help straighten your shoulders. Those who frequently lift heavy objects and experience lower back pain as a result may benefit from wearing a supportive corset back brace.

    • Using the incorrect brace will do little to quell your pain, and it may even exacerbate the problem. Moreover, if you experience chronic back pain and are unsure of the cause, using a back brace could potentially mask a more serious underlying condition that may require specialized treatment.

    • Consider the level of support offered by the back brace. Do you have occasional, mild back pain? If so, a soft and pliable back brace may offer just the right warmth and compression to provide relief. If you experience more intense pain or lead an active lifestyle that leaves your back vulnerable to strain and injury, you'll require something with more support. A firmer back brace may take a little more getting used to, but it will provide superior stability, resulting in protection from further injury and improved pain relief.

    People put themselves at greater risk in the workplace if they wear a back brace as a way to ignore proper heavy lifting procedures.

    Lynda
    Physical Therapist
    • Look for comfort features. The adjustability, construction materials, and padding all contribute to how comfortable a back brace is to wear. It should be adjustable enough to provide a snug fit, but one that’s too flexible could stretch out over time. Breathable materials like nylon, polyester, and cotton can help minimize perspiration. Also, some level of padding will go a long way toward reducing skin irritation, especially when wearing a rigid back brace.

    • Make sure that the back brace is suitable for your intended use. While your options may be limited if you've been prescribed a back brace following surgery or injury, this step shouldn't be overlooked when choosing your own. Most people require something that provides support and alleviates pain when they’re away from home. A discreet option that can be worn under clothing tends to be the most desirable. If you'll be using your back brace at the office or when out and about, look for a balance of firm support and comfortable padding without excessive bulk. It’s a good idea to consult with a physical therapist before purchasing a back brace to help identify the most suitable option.

    • Choose a durable back brace. A quality back brace will do the best job of providing optimal support for as long as you need it. Metal stays and plastic supports will not only offer increased stability but can also help the brace maintain its shape. If you intend to wear the brace for extended periods, look for double stitching to help prevent premature fraying. Velcro is by far the most common fastening method for elastic back braces. While all Velcro straps are prone to losing grip eventually, wider straps or straps with more than one securing point may hold longer.

    EXPERT TIP

    People will sometimes wear the brace all day and night, which doesn’t allow muscles in the back to work properly as they should and can therefore lead to weakness over time.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Back brace features to consider

    Depending on your needs, the following features can offer improved comfort and support.

    Mesh straps

    If you live in a warmer climate or intend to use your brace primarily for exercising, consider a model with mesh straps for optimal breathability.

    Thermal properties

    Heat can be especially soothing for back pain related to osteoarthritis and stiff muscles. Some back braces are designed to trap body heat, offering consistent warmth throughout the day.

    Back braces that are overly soft and flexible won't be very effective.

    Removable pads

    A back brace with removable pads provides extra customization by allowing wearers to trim bulk or add additional support and comfort as needed.

    Solid supports

    Integrated features like metal stays and molded plastic supports provide superior stabilization and support, as well as improved durability.

    Ergonomic fit

    Back braces that are designed to fit the body’s natural curves may be less prone to bunching and rolling.

    EXPERT TIP

    With prolonged episodes of back pain, a physical therapist or another medical professional should be consulted, as a back brace might not be helpful at all.


    Lynda  | Physical Therapist

    Back brace prices

    Back braces vary greatly in size, materials, and price. Expect to pay anywhere from $10 to over $1,000, depending on the features you need.

    Corset/elastic back braces

    You can find these for as little as $10, but at this price the support and quality will be minimal.

    Firmer back braces capable of providing effective stability and compression cost between $20 and $150, depending on size, materials, and supportive features.

    To prolong the life of your back brace, we recommend it be washed by hand and air dried as needed.

    Rigid back braces

    Rigid back braces are primarily designed for rehabilitative use following surgery, injury, or in the correction of degenerative spinal conditions, so these are usually recommended by a medical practitioner.

    Sometimes a custom fit, additional treatment, or physical therapy is required. Depending on these factors, prices can range anywhere from $300 to well over $1,000.

    Not all back braces fit all body types. Options with higher levels of adjustability are more user-friendly and can increase the chances of the brace fitting properly.

    FAQ

    Q. How often should I wear my back brace?

    A. That depends on how much pain you experience and how frequently. Moderate to severe pain, whether caused by injury or chronic back pain, will naturally require extended use. However, those seeking additional support while performing strenuous physical activity, such as moving furniture, may only need to wear a back brace for the duration of the task. It's always best to consult with a chiropractor or physical therapist on the correct usage of a back brace.

    Q. Should I continue to wear a brace after the pain subsides?

    A. Once you're free of pain or the discomfort is manageable, it's best to wear a brace only when necessary. This could be at times when your back will be placed under extra pressure or to quell occasional flare-ups. Otherwise, it's generally best to skip wearing a brace in the absence of pain because unnecessarily prolonged use may eventually lead to muscle weakness.

    Q. Can I wear a back brace for support during pregnancy?

    A. Many women experience lower back pain during pregnancy, and extra support can be helpful. Specialized maternity back braces (sometimes called belly bands) are designed to safely relieve pain and offer support while pregnant. Check with your health care provider to rule out possible complications and find out which of these braces is most suitable for you.

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