Does a Back Brace Make My Core Muscles Weak?

We frequently use Aspen back braces as an element of a patient’s treatment plan. There are three different types of braces we utilize but the one that we choose depends on the condition. Sometimes there’s hesitancy from our patients when giving them a back brace because they are afraid it is going to make their core muscles weak. This is actually a myth. In fact, if you use the back brace correctly, it can actually help to activate the core muscles to better support the low back. This is a technique that is used by powerlifters wearing weight belts. 


Many people think the core muscles are just the abdominal muscles; the same ones that people associate with having a “6-pack.” However, these muscles are just one component of the “core” muscles. In the picture on the right, the “core” is made up of the muscles of the abdominal wall, the low back muscles (erector spinae), pelvic floor and diaphragm. These muscles work together to support the lumbar spine which is the lowest part of the spine. 


To correctly activate the ENTIRE core, the diaphragm needs to depress which creates intra-abdominal pressure. In other words, when you breathe in, your abdomen should actually push out. 


Now enter the back brace. With a back brace wrapped around your midsection, it is easier to activate your diaphragm to support your low back. You can actually create more intra-abdominal pressure when you inhale because you can push your abdomen into the brace. This is exactly what weight lifters do when they are wearing a weight belt and are about to lift a lot of weight. They breathe into the belt to create tension to support their low back.


The Aspen L0637 is the back brace we most frequently use in the office. It is a versatile brace because it can be used when a patient has an acute spasm, a radiculopathy, or has back pain after long periods of activity. Our patients report reduced pain while wearing the brace. In addition, it allows patients to maintain some level of function to carry on with work duties and simple activities of daily living.


The use of braces together with the normal treatments patients receive in our office will lead to the best results! If you have any questions about our back braces or any of our other braces that we provide, please feel free to contact our office.

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