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The Proper Use and Limitations of Back Support Belts

Back Support Belts and Their Role in Lower Back Injuries in the Work Place

“Back injuries account for about 20% of work related injuries and illness in the USA, costing the economy an estimated $50 billion annually.” In an attempt to rely on back belts to prevent injury, many companies have required their employees to wear back support belts, thinking that this “protective device” would reduce the incidences of back injury. This false idea has been promoted by aggressive marketing over the last number of years. The companies, which market back support belts, suggest that they protect the back by adding additional support during lifting activities.

Insurance companies have also been influenced by this marketing, and therefore have also played their part by encouraging employers with promises of lower premiums or claims costs. The result is that the use of back belts have become quite popular and mandatory for some job descriptions. In theory, using back belts sound reasonable, however the facts say something quite different. Many well-meaning employers may be inadvertently contributing to the prevalence of their employees lower back problems by insisting they use back belts.

Preventing Injury

In this work shop, you may come to think differently about back support belts and learn not to depend so much on them to prevent injury. Our goal is to provide some insights into how back support belts are inappropriately used, and how they might be more appropriately used in the work place. According to the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “companies should not rely on back belts to protect workers form lifting injuries because the scientific data does not support claims that the equipment prevents back injuries.” NIOSH also has reported that, “evidence does exist to indicate that long-term use of back belts results in decreased muscle tone, with the possibility that such workers may be more susceptible to injury when lifting without a back belt support. Other studies show that injuries suffered whilst wearing a belt tend to be more severe, probably due to the tendency to attempt to lift larger, heavier loads.”

The NIOSH also has stated that, “back belts do not mitigate the hazards to workers posed by repeated lifting, pushing, pulling, twisting or bending”. Neither does it recommend the use of back belts to prevent injuries among uninjured workers, nor consider back belts to be personal protective equipment. Learning the facts about the cause and effects of injury, and how to prevent occupational overuse syndrome will help protect your back. A spine which is stiff with fixated spinal segments, and has unconditioned muscles which cannot stretch very well is very susceptible to becoming damaged. Keeping the back in good shape is one of the best preventative measures for back injury. Conditioning exercises consisting of complete range of motion and strengthening for the entire spine as an important means to improving spinal health.

At Cedar City Chiropractic and Rehabilitation, Doctors Josh Williams and M. Curtis Hobson have the solution to more than just your back. With professional, on-hand dietitians, health coaches, massage therapist, and Chiropractic physicians, we can focus on your overall health and wellness that will allow you to run FASTER, jump HIGHER, recover QUICKER, and will ultimately achieve your greatest wellness goals. At Cedar City Chiropractic and Rehab... We have MORE than just your back!

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