It is often claimed that wearing a back belt will support your
spine and prevent a back injury. Workers at certain companies are required to wear them. But do these supports do what is claimed or could they actually cause harm? Lower back pain is an enormously expensive problem and accounts for a quarter of all payments for workers compensation claims. According to the National Institute of Health, back pain is the second most common reason for visiting a doctor, after flu and colds. In order to deal with the problem, many employers, and employees, have chosen back belts to provide support to the lumbar region of the spine.
The truth is that wearing an elastic or other support around your waist to help your back may be both good and bad. And whether wearing such a black belt will prevent back problems are controversial. A new study that found workers who routinely wear these support belts while working at Wal-Mart, were just as likely to injure their backs as those who did not.
Previous studies of back belts to prevent injuries, such as the UCLA study conducted with Home Depot workers, which found a 11/3 decrease in back injuries due to wearing back belts. (McIntyre DR; Bolte KM; Pope MH. Study provides new evidence of back belts’ effectiveness. Occup Health Saf. 11996; 65(12):339-41).