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Will using a lifting belt reduce my risk back injury?

“I am scared to deadlift because I don’t want to injure my back”

“I want to lift but I’m not sure how to best avoid injury”

“I’ve seen lifting belts in the gym but not sure what they do”

Have you or someone you know ever asked any of these questions? Maybe you have seen lifting belts and you’re not sure of their purpose. Maybe you have used one and didn’t understand what all the fuss was about? This blog is here to answer any questions you may have, and bust any myths about lifting belts that may be floating around your social media feeds.

What is a lifting belt?

First of all, what are we actually talking about? For those that are not sure, a lifting belt is something commonly used by weightlifters and powerlifts when performing heavy lifting exercises. However, most gyms will have them for use, and it is common to see regular gym-goers using them during their routines. 

But… what do they do actually do?

belt

The 3 most frequently claimed benefits of lifting belt are...

  1. They increase intra-abdominal pressure to achieve greater core activation, and in turn, greater power
  2. They reduce stress on your lower back during heavy lifts
  3. They reduce your injury risk

Next question…. are any of these actually true?

Let’s start with #1 – Increasing intra-abdominal pressure. 

This is true. There is a large amount of evidence to support this. And what it means is that when performing a lift, a belt allows you to store and release more energy and strength from your core. Putting it simply, you can generally exert more force, and in turn, lift heavier weights. However, it is important to note that a lifting belt does not give you superpowers. The different is not huge, and you must ensure you are applying other principles of training and safety measures when performing heavier lifts.

Point #2 – They reduce stress on your lower back.  

This is up for more contention. When we look at the fact that the lower back should be considered as part of the core, you could argue yes. However, the amount of actual stress placed through the spine itself, is not changed by any clinically relevant amount for this claim to be considered 100% factual.

Point #3 – They reduce your risk of injury.

This is a big no. If you take one thing from this article, let it be that message. Lifting belts do not reduce your injury risk. There is compelling evidence to support this fact. 

man working out
man with bad back

So how can I reduce my risk of injury you might ask? 

…PHYSIOTHERAPY…

There are many factors to consider when discussing lifting injuries. Physiotherapy can address many of these, but perhaps the most appropriate would be your muscle strength, endurance and overall capacity.

Can my Physiotherapist help me if I don't have an injury?

This is a definite yes. A Physiotherapist can help with much more than injury management. Injury prevention can be just as important, and well within the realm of Physiotherapy. 

 

If you are interested in lifting heavier weights, or perhaps lacking confidence to take that next step. A lifting belt can help increase your overall power and numbers, but this is not the first step you should be taking. Instead, why not undergo a professional assessment to determine where you can  not only improve your numbers, but also reduce your risk of injury.

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