Wear a weight training belt for extra back support
Weight-training belts are wide, specially designed belts that support the back when heavy weights are lifted. In past years, weight belts were primarily worn by powerlifters and Olympic athletes, but nowadays weight belts are a common sight in most gyms. People who work in jobs that require extensive lifting, such as moving furniture, often wear weight belts, too.
Advantages of Weight Lifting Belts
Weight belts decrease the stress on the lower back during weight-lifting exercises by compressing the abdominal muscles to increase the intra-abdominal pressure (IAP), which in turn provides greater support for the lower spine. In addition, weight-training belts prevent the back from hyperextending by limiting its movement.
When a weight belt is worn, the physical sensation of the belt causes the wearer to become more aware of their back and their form while performing exercises, which can help to prevent injuries. Many exercisers report that they feel more secure when wearing a weight belt, even if it is not tight enough to activate the IAP or to limit movement of the back.
Disadvantages of Weight Training Belts
Weight belts can cause an increase in the wearer's blood pressure, so people with blood pressure issues or heart disease should talk to their doctor before using a belt. In addition, researchers have found that the use of a weight belt during exercise can sometimes inhibit the use of stabilizing abdominal muscles, which can lead to a weakening of the abdominal muscles over time. Most exercisers can achieve a substantial IAP by holding their breath, which indicates that a weight-training belt may not be needed for this purpose.
It is important to wear the weight-lifting belt only during upright weight training exercises and not for other exercises, such as those performed lying down. The restrictive properties of the weight-training belt can prevent the proper range of motion, which can eventually weaken muscles and make them more prone to injuries.
A variety of weight belts, including high-end leather weight-lifting belts and neoprene weight belts, can be found at sporting goods stores, as well as through many online retailers. For weightlifters just starting to exercise, a less expensive belt will most likely suffice.