Some of my co-workers use back support belts when they lift at work. Should I use one?

Probably not. Back support belts can provide muscle support, but they can also make you more likely to overdo it. Long-term use of back support belts can also cause the muscles of the abdomen and lower back to weaken, making back problems more likely.

Medical research has shown that back support belts can help men when they catch an unexpected load that comes directly from the front. However, the benefit was small, and women did not receive the same benefits from the belt. In the same study, support belts actually hurt people who caught unexpected loads from the side. The belts kept key muscles from responding appropriately.

Back support belts may be appropriate for some people who have had back injuries.  However, a support belt should only be used for short periods.  It should be removed often to do a program of exercise to improve abdominal muscle strength.