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After using my shower as a toilet for a couple days due to my last debilitating lower back injury, I've decided to start using a belt again. I understand that more than a few of you just rolled your eyes, but I feel that it's the best move given my situation. Whether to wear a belt or not has been a conflict in my head for the 15 years I've dealt with back pain, the last handful of years being the worst. I felt it was time to revisit what I thought I was sure I knew.

My situation changed quite a bit with this last injury. While I was enjoying being injury free the last three years, I was completely convinced that I wasn’t having back problems due to my consistent protocol of stretching and visits to my chiropractor. This plan may have helped stave off an injury for three years — where I may otherwise have had one every year, so clearly that's a bonus — but I honestly thought that my back injury days were over. I was completely wrong.

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Where I stand right now, I believe that by consistently adhering to my stretching protocol and chiropractic adjustments, I'll be able to have fewer injuries and the recovery time will be much less. However, I've accepted that I will continue to have back problems probably for the rest of my life. An operation is completely out of the question unless I get to the point where I just can't function. Right now, if I injure myself every three years, I can deal with shitting in the shower for two days afterward and then going back to the gym a week later not even feeling like I had an injury the week prior. I still want to take precautions though to try to not only keep the injuries to every three years but maybe even stretch it out longer to every four or five years. For that reason, I'm still looking at other options, which brings me back around to the belt debate.

I've been anti-belt for a very long time. I feel strongly that it can end up being a tool that the midsection relies on for support instead of strengthening the muscles of the torso so that they can provide the needed support. I'm not a powerlifter, so I'm not putting up ridiculous weight that my torso can’t handle. I've had very good results not using a belt. At the same time, I admit that I'm still learning even after 32 years, and I'm back to wondering if I might be wrong and if I could benefit from going back to using one.

Girls UGSS 2015-6027

My thoughts are that I would use a cloth/material type of belt instead of a stiff, leather belt. After I get my body temperature up after a workout, this would help to keep my lower back warm. This can never be a bad idea. I also wouldn't wear the belt ridiculously tight so as to not rely on the belt to support my torso too much. I would wear it tight enough for support and to keep my abs tight and also tight enough to keep my back warm. I understand that some might scoff at a cloth belt, but again, I'm not putting up silly weights where I need to rely on the support from the belt.

The bonus is that the last two injuries I've had to my lower back haven't occurred in the gym. This is what has always led me to believe that a belt may not be needed because if it were, I likely would have injured myself in the gym under a weighted bar or doing rows. My last two injuries occurred from sitting down in a chair in a reception room and then slightly bending over to get a closer look at a box at the post office. Not exactly intense activities.

Using the belt in the way that I've described seems to be the most logical way in response to, what are now, chronic back issues. Even if using a belt doesn’t help, using it the way that I've outlined certainly won't hurt either. In addition to helping keep my back warm and providing some support, I would also look more like a bodybuilder while wearing the belt and give the illusion of having a smaller waist. I think we can all agree that having a smaller waist is a good enough reason in and of itself for wearing a belt. I gotta look good when I’m in the gym. Just sayin’.

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