Best Lower Back Braces
Lower back pain can be extremely debilitating, as it will affect virtually everything you do. This, combined with the fact that low back pain is extremely common, makes this an even bigger problem. In fact, low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide, with 80% of adults having experienced some form of significant back pain sometime in their lives.
Moreover, low back pain doesn't result from one particular activity or injury, but can be a result from a huge variety of causes, many of which are totally unrelated. One of the most obvious professions that experience lower back pain are those who work for moving companies, which may be fairly obvious given the heavy and sometimes awkward lifting involved. However, it often surprises people to hear that bus drivers are also more vulnerable to developing lower back pain. The exact reasons aren't fully understood, but it's likely a combination of ergonomics and a gradual reduction in leg and back flexibility.
If that's not enough, other things like sports, injuries, underlying conditions, and age, can all contribute to low back pain. Whatever the cause of your pain, injury, or condition, it's best to get things checked out as soon as possible, as often times a treatment plan will incorporate some gradual return to activity, and it's easier to do this before things progress too far.
So what does all of this have to do with lower back braces, also known as lumbar braces? Similar to lots of other medical braces, they can help provide some extra support to keep your spine in the desired position, gradually improving your posture, and they can also help facilitate your return to activity, which may be a part of your treatment plan. They are especially helpful in the initial stages of rehabilitation, but many people continue to wear them long beyond recovery, simply to continue promoting proper posture and movements, ultimately reducing the risk of re-injury.
Reviews - Lumbar Back Braces
In this section, we will briefly review our Top 10 Lumbar Back Braces. They are not ranked in any particular order, as we tried to show a variety of braces that may appeal to different people with different underlying conditions. Our hope is that this will help provide you with some general information about lower back braces and possibly narrow your selection.
Below these reviews, we will highlight 5 lower back braces in more detail, and underneath that section we will provide more information about lower back anatomy and potential injuries/conditions that could require various forms of lower back support. Lastly, if you're looking for braces that are meant to correct upper body posture, check out our detailed reviews of the best back braces for upper body posture, which are not covered here.
Lower Back Brace
Average Customer Rating
This back brace is highly popular and offers great value. Dual adjustment straps provide customized fit and compression. Comes with mesh panels.
This lumbar brace has a dual strap adjustment and removable lumbar pad. Offers strong support with some therapeutic warmth and a high level of comfort.
This is another lower back brace with a removable lumbar support, dual adjustment straps, and a curved anatomical design for comfort.
This lower back brace offers more lumbar support than most braces, but it's not "complete" support that some people except, as they also incorporate features for enhanced comfort, which compromises the support a little.
While there are no fancy bells and whistles, this is one of the most popular and reliable lower back supports available. Gets the job done at a cheap price!
This lumbar brace provides support, but its main selling point is the implementation of Thermo-Active Technology that increases heat to the area, which can promote circulation and healing.
This is a cheap and simple lumbar support that is great for everyday use. It has the dual adjustment straps, a form-fitting design, and offers decent comfort for the price. Great bang-for-your-buck.
This is similar to the Perfect Posture lumbar brace, but this one has slightly softer material, which may come with a trade-off of lower durability. Overall, great lumbar support for the price.
This lower back support is a little more expensive simply because it comes with custom hot and cold gel packs that fit into the brace. Made with 3mm perforated neoprene, this is a great way to combine additional support with heat or ice.
The lower back support in this brace is slightly wider than most other braces. Customers find this helps distribute any loads on the spine more evenly, while still maintaining the mobility offered in other lumbar support systems.
Individual Reviews - Lumbar Back Braces
We're starting off with a more in-depth review about the Mueller adjustable back brace simply because it is arguably the most popular and reliable lower back brace on on the market. Mueller is a very well-known brand with a reputation for practicality and well-designed products. The Mueller adjustable back brace is no exception.
To be clear, this brace is still relatively simple. It doesn't come with any fancy bells and whistles, but it's great for people who need additional lumbar support they can count on without breaking the bank. It's made of 40% polyester, 33% nylon, and 27% rubber. There are also some flexible steel support along the spine that help to offer additional stability.
Like many other back braces these days, the Mueller adjustable back brace comes with a removable lumbar pad, which when used, helps to cushion and compress the lower back for concentrated support. The internal molded plastic component does help a little with comfort, but its main purpose in this case is to prevent any rolling or bunching of the brace.
This lower back brace usually comes in two different sizes: Regular and Plus. Regular is supposed to fit a 28-50 inch waist, while the plus can fit a 50-70 inch waist. The reason the range is fairly large for each size is because the dual adjustable elastic straps give you a lot of freedom in terms of tightening the brace and adjusting its compression whenever you need.
Overall, we find this Mueller adjustable back brace to be the best lower back brace for the money for the reasons we mentioned above, and of course, the fact that it is very affordable by back brace standards. It would be nice to see them come out with a similar model that conveniently incorporates heat/cold packs, but for now, we will gladly settle with the great value offered here.
The ComfyMed CM-102M Lower Back Brace is a little bit more expensive than the Mueller adjustable back brace, but this increase could be worth it for people who would like to prioritize comfort and a high level of adjustability.
This lower back brace has a similar shape and design to most conventional lower back braces, with a couple very subtle differences. For example, if you look closely at the picture, you may be able to see the two D-rings along the strapping system just behind the model's hands. These D-rings are great because once you have put on the brace with the normal dual adjustable straps, the D-rings can be used to tighten the back brace even further.
The D-rings are just on Velcro, and once you have the brace on initially they will be closer to the front of your body, so they are really easy to use for quick adjustments. They are also a great feature if you are on the lower end of a size, as you can use these to further tighten the brace rather than ordering an uncomfortably small size.
The removable lumbar pad is a nice touch, but is becoming fairly standard these days anyway. The brace itself is comparable in weight to most braces, but it is washable, so there is some convenience there. It comes in two size - Regular and Large. Regular fits a waist size of 26-37 inches, while the Large will fit a waist size of 38-50 inches.
Overall, this is one of the best lower back braces for support and comfort, especially considering you have two ways of tightening and adjusting the brace. The D-ring secondary strapping system is its most unique feature, but even without those, this is still a good brace that gets the job done. It's a little bit more expensive than some other more simple braces, but if you are prioritizing adjustability, then we would definitely suggest at least considering the ComfyMed CM-102M lower back brace.
This is a really interested lower back brace that has a design very similar to most conventional lower back braces, but with one added feature that, in theory, is really good. This added feature is the Thermo-Active Technology that actively heats your lower back as you wear the brace without any sort of gel pack insert. The heat can promote circulation and healing, and can also help reduce pain, so it's a really good idea.
However, the main concern we have with the Thermo-Active technology is that we're not too sure how it actually works. We know this type of technology in jackets and other cold-weather apparel often uses sunlight or other external mechanism to promote the generation of heat inside the fabric, but given this brace is worn under clothes, we're still not too sure how it works. Even when going through the company website with a fine-tooth comb, we were not able to find any technical information on how the heating technology actually works.
This isn't to say we don't believe it will be effective, because it certainly does generate quite a bit of heat. In fact, some customers who have worn the brace directly over their skin have ended up with irritated skin from too much heat, and sometimes even visible burning. These cases seem few and far in between, but nevertheless, it is a little odd.
Otherwise, this brace has the same dual adjustable elastic straps that are found on most other lower back braces, it has flexible metal stints reinforcing the spine area in your lower back over a range of 9 inches, which is fairly robust, and it's comfortable.
Overall, this is a good lower back brace with a really innovative Thermo-Active design and technology. The brace itself is nice and the Thermo-Active Technology certainly works, but some customers find it gets too hot too quickly, making it difficult to wear for long periods of time. Therefore, if you're after a lower back brace that provides some sort of warmth or heating to the lumbar spine region, we would still consider this an option, but would be careful wearing it the first couple times, perhaps starting by wearing it over a t-shirt or having a thin towel between the skin and the brace.
As much as we dislike the company name for this brace, it's still worthy of a good review and is a natural progression from the Iron Bull Strength Medi-Back brace we reviewed above. The Old Bone Therapy Lower Back Support belt is similar to the Medi-Back brace in that they incorporate heating (and cooling), but instead of having the technology incorporated in the fabric, they do it the old fashioned way by using heat/cold gel packs.
While we say "old-fashioned way", this doesn't mean outdated or rudimentary. Instead, they actually make this quite convenient by supplying you with their own custom gel packs, one for heat therapy and one for cold therapy. The packs fit perfectly into the slider component inside the brace, so you don't have to worry about taping anything, or about the packs sliding around between you and the brace.
Given that this brace is still quite good on its own without the packs, it is highly likely that the slightly inflated cost of this brace is due to the fact that they supply and send the two gel packs as well. They could even come in handy for other injuries as well, but hopefully that won't be necessary.
Otherwise, this lower back brace boasts all the features required for a reliable back brace. The adjustable dual elastic straps are pretty standard, the lumbar region is reinforced with flexible metal support stays, the inner silicone lining is good for preventing any slipping, and the material is a 3mm neoprene that is perforated to allow air flow and to keep moisture and sweat away.
Overall, this is one of the best lower back braces for those who need a combination of a good amount of additional support with the ability to apply ice or heat, allowing you to optimize the setup according to your particular injury or condition. For this reason, it's a little more expensive than a lot of the other braces we reviewed, but it's still not bad by brace standards. There are also lots of sizes available, just be careful when choosing a size, as they are based on measurements around the navel, NOT the waist!
The main reason we wanted to highlight the Perfect Posture Lumbar Back Brace in more detail is because we consider this the best lower back brace that you can get for a low price point. This brace does not have anything fancy, but it gets the job done at a minimal cost, and some aspects of the design are actually quite clever.
One of the first things you may notice is the more rugged design. This can scare people off, as they will often think that means it's stiff and heavy as well. However, it's actually quite flexible. I wouldn't go as far as saying it's as flexible as something made purely from a blend of soft fabrics, but the honeycomb design helps to ensure it remains lightweight and flexible while still being highly durable.
They also include a mesh material to help promote air flow and keep you cool and dry. This is certainly a good idea, but even still, some customers find it a little warm when worn over an extended period of time. Otherwise, the design is very similar to most other lower back braces, including flexible support stays in the lumbar region and the dual adjustable elastic straps. One tip to consider: many customers have found that the brace tends to run about one size too small for them, so if you're trying to decide between two sizes, we would lean towards the larger size.
Overall, this brace offers great bang-for-your-buck. When making out choice for Best Value Lower Back Brace, the only reason we didn't choose the Perfect Posture Brace, which is among the cheapest we reviewed, was because the Mueller Adjustable Back Brace had as stronger reputation behind it, and we think reliability is important. Nevertheless, the Perfect Posture lumbar back brace is a great option for those who want something cheap, simple, and of course, functional.
Braces for Low Back Pain
Common Causes of Low Back Pain
As we mentioned at the very beginning of this article, low back pain is extremely common and can have debilitating effects for anyone, no matter what your age or fitness status. There are seemingly countless reasons why one may suffer from low back pain, but here are some of the most common.
Muscle strains and ligaments sprains are very common causes of low back pain. When you use your hand to feel your lower back, you may only be able able to feel the bigger and longer back extensor muscles that run up your lower back. In reality, these are only represent a small portion of the muscles in your lower back region. There are many other really small muscles that connect one vertebra (individual bones in the spinal column) to another with various attachment points on the vertebrae, some muscles run from the ribs to the vertebrae, some from the hips to the vertebrae, etc.
Given that your lower back, or lower core in general, is often a focal point for movement, it's easy to see why it can be more vulnerable to injury. This is especially the case for people in professions that are highly physical and involve lots of heavy lifting or awkward movements, and even just as bad for professions that don't involve heavy lifting, but also facilitate a significant decrease in hamstring and back flexibility, such as in bus drivers.
Another common cause of low back pain is damage or movement of the cartilagenous discs that lie between each vertebra in the spine, helping to distribute forces and allow for ease of back movement. These discs are known as intervertebral discs, and are the structures associated with the well-known herniated disc, or "slipped-disc", condition that can be very painful and debilitating.
Lastly, you don't need to receive an injury at all in order to experience significant low back pain. Poor posture, long term gradual conditions (e.g. osteoarthritis), obesity, a history of previous injuries, etc, can all contribute to the development of low back pain.
For a really nice detailed explanation about low back pain, causes, warning signs, treatment options, etc, check out this great informative guide Dr. Mike Evans. It has great visuals and breaks down the most important information in simplified manner, providing you with everything you need to know in about 10 minutes!
When to Wear a Lower Back Brace
First, we would like to briefly state that if you are experiencing low back pain, we would suggest visiting a doctor or physiotherapist, as they can perform hands-on testing to gain a better sense of your exact condition, which could ultimately be helpful in selecting a brace. In the mean time, here are the general benefits of wearing a lower back brace.
Lower back braces, especially those with good lumbar support, are really great items to have when you are just recovering from injury or surgery. They will take much of the load off your muscles and stabilize your spine, which will reduce pain and allow you to heal properly, which can save a lot of trouble down the road.
Lower back braces can also be useful when trying to correct longer term conditions like poor posture or the symptoms of osteoarthritis. In this case, the brace can help serve as a tutor for your body. If you wear it intermittently, you can become more accustomed to how it feels to be in a good postural position, and then you can replicate this on your own, building muscle strength in areas that were previously lacking.
When Not to Wear a Lower Back Brace
We can't imagine a situation when wearing a lower back brace would be actively harmful to the individual; however, this isn't the same as wearing a brace for too long. Many medical professionals are weary of telling patients to wear lower back braces routinely for extended periods of time (unless their specific condition definitely requires this), as this could eventually lead to atrophy of the lower back muscles. Unfortunately, with any muscle in the body, the old say "use it or lose it" holds true here. This may create a positive feedback loop in which the more you wear the brace, the more your muscles may atrophy, and the more you will have to rely on the brace.
Also, it is worth noting that when you use a particular muscle group less than normal, especially when moving, that other muscle groups will help to pick up the slack, and depending on the situation, this could make those other areas more vulnerable to injury. This is often referred to as compensation. For a very simple example, someone who injures their left leg may end up using their right leg more, and eventually, the right leg may actually become injured because of this.
Moderate Your Use
The information above isn't cut and dried. The duration of which you wear a lower back brace will depend on your condition and lifestyle, which is one of the reasons we highly suggest visiting a doctor or physiotherapist before buying a brace. In general, during times when you aren't healing from a recent injury or surgery, we would suggest wearing the brace only when you are experiencing pain or are participating in activities that make you more prone to pain or further injury. This may mean you wear it intermittently throughout the day (e.g. on and off to try and correct your posture), or during certain activities that bother you more than others.
It simply comes down to finding a balance. You want the brace to help you heal and take the load off, and of course, to help reduce the pain. However, you also don't want to become so reliant on it that you need to have it on all the time in order to feel ok. If you are able to avoid significant atrophy of the muscles, this can definitely help you in the long run.
Overall, lower back braces can be extremely helpful in reducing pain and making any sort of recovery process as quick and easy as possible. They can also be great to help correct posture or prevent any further injuries while performing various activities. For some people, there is some risk in becoming too reliant on them, but as long as you have this general concept in mind, then you are well on your way to healthier back! Good luck, and feel better soon!