A Weightlifting Belt is NOT a Back Brace!
Hi my name is Phil and part of my soul dies every time someone uses fitness gear incorrectly.
And trust me, I have a big soul... but there's not much left.
If you know me, you know I absolutely hate using fitness gear as a 'quick fix'.
It freaking drives me nuts.
I tell that to my patients, my clients, and I try to make it known to every single athlete that has Element 26 gear.
"Gear is a supplement to improve your fitness, not a crutch to cover up pain."
That's usually how it goes.
Something like that.
The big one for me though is when someone wants to use a belt as a back brace to minimize their back pain.
First off, if you do have back pain, the most important thing to do would be to contact your coach, trainer, doctor, physical therapist, or local wizard to help fix your movement... or at least help you get to the bottom of why it hurts versus covering it up.
And secondly, a back brace is designed to limit motion in the spine. I see patients in the clinic with back braces who have spinal fractures and/or scoliosis. The brace runs from the pelvis/hips all the way to the lower chest region.
That's the opposite of something you'd want when performing heavy squats followed by burpees.
Burpees suck enough as is... no need to make them worse.
A belt can absolutely minimize back pain, but that's not the main function of a belt.
A belt is designed to increase the pressure within your abdomen and provide tactile (touch) feedback to the skin and muscles around the abdomen and back.
In fact, here's an amazing blog I wrote on the function of a weightlifting belt for strength training.
Here's the deal, every time you take a breath in, your abdomen inflates. When the abdomen inflates, it pushes all your guts down (into your pelvic floor) and out (into your abdominal muscles, low back muscles, lower ribs).
The belt serves as secondary reinforcement for the abdominal muscles, low back muscles, and lower ribs. That means the first line of defense are the abs. That's why training beltless during specific phases of training is so important.
Now think about this, if the muscles around that area are not able to contract appropriately at the correct time, there will be a decrease in stability around your pelvis and spine.
That decrease in stability leads to some tight hips, a tight low back, squat depth issues, and possibly knee pain. Other areas get tight to try and compensate for lack of abdominal contraction.
Throwing a belt on in this case will work to cover up some issues and underlying deficiencies, but it's not the fix.
The fix generally consists of lightening the weight, getting good at bracing, strengthening the core, and improving single leg control. A few more things too, but I usually start there.
However, if you have the core control, have minimal to no pain, you've mastered your depth, and are throwing around some heavy weight, then you've earned the ability to wear a belt. A belt at that point is going to improve your lifts by serving as that second line of defense when the weight gets heavy and fatigue sets in.
If you are 100% ready to wear a belt, then you can click on the big red button below and that will direct you to the Element 26 Online Store to check out our Self-Locking Weightlifting Belt.
The belt is designed to optimize intra-abdominal pressure, not serve as a back brace.
And if you have any questions about belts, bracing, lifting, whatever, shoot me an email reply to the address below! I'm here for ya.
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Element 26 Co-Founder
Online Store: www.element26.co
PS. Want to further connect with myself and the Team at Element 26?
1. We would love to continue to support you on your fitness journey. And one way to do that is to follow us on Instagram, that way we can stay up to date with your progress! And when posting your training videos, use the hashtags #element26 and #TeamE26 and then tag us @element26.co so we can share! We'll be here for motivation, accountability, training tips, and gear launches/updates.
2. If you are ready to have an even deeper connection with other athletes who are all-in on their fitness journey, we invite you to join our private Facebook Group: Team E26: Less Ego, More Iron. The catch, you have to be committed to your journey and committed to helping others along the way. Success is determined by the strength of the community!