Back pain is the modern plague. Millions of jobs are now office-based. It means a lot of people drop by the pharmacy to buy pain relievers for their back because of long hours of sedentary work. This is truer for construction workers, firefighters, and other modern-day heroes who routinely exert strength in their job. We’ve since invented devices to prevent back strains. Among the most famous: chairs for posture support, and back support belts. But do they work?
Fact or Fiction: Back Support Belts Prevent Injuries
Back support belts are thick straps you wrap around your lower back and abdomen intended to improve your posture. It usually has a plastic or metal structure to reinforce the curve of your back. Athletes, construction workers, and other heavy weightlifters commonly wear it, but some office workers also use it in hopes of having a pain-free day.
It’s famous because it’s convenient to incorporate in your routine. The only thing you have to do is wear it while doing your job. Sellers and patrons of back support belts claim the following benefits:
- Minimized Pressure on the Spine
- Increased Pressure within the Abdomen
- Strengthened the Spine
- Limited Bending
- Minimized Workplace Injuries
All claims, however, were dubbed as false by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Hazards (NIOSH) of the Center for Disease Prevention for the lack of scientific evidence. Results of studies about the claimed benefits were inconclusive. The Institute doesn’t recommend wearing back belts to avoid injuries in work for people who have never been hurt in doing their jobs.
Fact or Fiction: Posture Support Chairs Reduce Back Pain
The dangers of the long-term effects of prolonged sitting urged the invention of posture support chairs. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what it does. It’s a chair, except, it’s supposedly designed to help your body maintain good posture while sitting. It will likely take a different shape, or have adjustable features to cater to the height of the desk and your distance to it.
With rising concerns over the harms of slouching, most offices in the corporate world invest in ergonomic chairs. They are especially applicable to those looking to boost the productivity of their employees. More than a comfortable office chair, posture support chairs claim to:
- Support the natural curve of the spine
- Lessens Pressure on the Spine
- Allows the head, shoulders, and hips to stay straight
- Reduces back pains
These benefits are backed by credible institutions. The Canadian health center supports the use of ergonomic chairs and notes that well-designed ones make it conducive for workers to have a balanced posture while sitting. It stresses that choosing the right chair prevents the health problems associated with a deskbound lifestyle we’re all most familiar with—listlessly sitting in front of a computer screen. The only exercise being lunch and bathroom breaks.
A systematic review of chair intervention in the workplace based on five studies of varied workplaces also revealed that employees reported reduced musculoskeletal pain after changing the chairs in their workstations into ones that assist their posture. There is a correlation between what chair you sit in routinely, and the discomfort you feel during and after.
The Best Way to Protect your Back
Of course any device claiming to end all the pain should always be taken with some skepticism. Neither the best support belt nor the best chair for posture can solve all your back problems. The most effective way to prevent injury is to do some exercise yourself, become more conscious of your posture, and whenever possible, talk to your boss about redesigning the work environment and tasks to limit the possibilities of harm. We all work to make a living, but it’s hard to do the living part when your back begs to stay in the bed all the time because of pain.