Does Compression Help Lower Back Pain?



Low back pain (LBP) is a common musculoskeletal disorder that affects an estimated 20-50% of adults in the United States and is a leading cause of disability worldwide. While there are various treatments available to relieve LBP, including medication, physical therapy, and occasionally surgical intervention, compression is one potential form of treatment that often is not discussed.

In this article, we will explore the potential benefits of using compression for lower back pain and the evidence for its effectiveness.

Definition of compression

Compression is the application of pressure to specific areas of the body in order to reduce the amount of pain or discomfort. This can be done either manually, with physical massages, or through the use of elastic bandages, braces, or other medical devices. It is believed to relieve pain and reduce swelling by restricting fluids from moving freely in the area of compression.

Compression is often used as a way to help treat lower back pain which is caused by tension, spasms, overuse injuries, and even some disc problems. Compression helps support weakened and overstressed muscles while they heal, while also providing extra padding between spinous processes (the bony segments that line your spine) and vertebrae (the long bones located in your spinal column). Compression may also help limit movement when it comes to activities that are particularly hard on your spine such as bending, twisting, or lifting heavy objects.

Overview of back pain

Back pain is one of the most common types of chronic pain in adults and is a major cause of lost productivity. It affects an estimated 80 percent of all people at some point in their lives. Lower back pain can vary from lumbar muscle strain or spasm, a herniated disc, sciatica, and other conditions. People may experience sudden sharp pains, dull aches, or a dull but constant soreness that radiates down the legs.

Causes of lower back pain can be divided into two categories: mechanical problems and non-mechanical causes such as stress and psychological factors. Common mechanical issues include degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, joint dysfunction, spinal stenosis, and herniated discs. Non-mechanical sources include stress or emotional strain related to work or personal issues.

Physicians may recommend physical therapy along with any anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) to relieve pain and encourage healing. Many people also use alternative treatments like massage therapy, chiropractic care, or acupuncture to reduce back pain symptoms. In some cases, compression apparel – such as support belts or compression clothing – may also help improve symptoms when worn regularly during daily activities with the permission of your healthcare provider.

Causes of Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is a common condition that affects millions of people. It can be caused by a variety of different factors, including poor posture, weak core muscles, excess weight, and even compression of the spine. In this section, we will discuss the causes of lower back pain, and how compression can help.

Poor posture

Poor posture can be one of the major causes of lower back pain. Poor posture may cause additional stress to the lumbar spine, resulting in pain and discomfort. Sitting for extended periods of time in a slumped or hunched position can overload the spine and its surrounding muscles, which can lead to spinal deformation and fatigue.

Other causes include:

  • Excessive weight from obesity places strains on the spine as it compensates for additional pressure.
  • Overuse, such as activities such as exercise, sports involving running or jumping, wrong form of lifting heavy objects, or any form of strenuous activities can put too much strain on the structures within the low back area, resulting in irritation and eventual damage.
  • Certain medical conditions such as bone degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis or spondylosis.

In order to reduce the risk of developing lower back pain, it’s important to maintain good posture while sitting or standing; when sitting: make sure your feet are flat on the floor with your knees bent slightly greater than 90 degrees. Keep your head up with your shoulders straight and avoid hunching over books or laptops. Compression garments such as compression undershirts can provide some relief by decreasing pressure on spinal nerves and assisting with progressing inflammation reduction near affected regions in the low-back region. However, you should consult a medical professional before starting any new treatments.

Weak core muscles

Weak core muscles can be a major contributor to lower back pain. Core muscles, such as the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, support the lower back and help provide stability to the spine. Weak core muscles can lead to poor posture and can place excessively large amounts of strain on the back.

Core exercises help to strengthen your core and increase the stabilization of your spine. Exercises such as crunches, planks, superman lifts, leg lifts, and side planks are all excellent options for developing strength in the core. Maintaining good posture is also important for lessening the strain on your lower back. If you sit at a desk or computer for long periods of time each day, it is important to take regular breaks and do periodic stretching exercises which focus on strengthening your core.

In addition, wearing compression garments may also help reduce lower back pain by offering localized pressure which helps promote circulation and reduce inflammation in painful areas of the body. Compression garments are typically worn around the waist or torso area during physical activity or when resting after an injury has occurred. They provide an extra level of support which may help relieve pain associated with weak core muscle fatigue or tension in that area caused by weakened stabilizing structures within the spine itself.

Muscle strains

Low back pain is often caused by muscle strains, especially for those who are physically active. When a muscle strain occurs, it is usually due to overstretching or tearing of the ligaments or tendons that assist in keeping the joints together and allowing them to move. Muscle strains can occur from repetitive motions, such as bending forward at the waist repeatedly. It can also occur from lifting a heavy object incorrectly, or when sudden movements are performed such as sports activities involving running and jumping.

The pain associated with a lower back muscle strain may be described as a dull ache that gradually grows in intensity with movement or pressure against the muscles and ligaments. Numbing sensations and weaker legs can accompany lower back pain due to muscle strain.

Compression garments may help reduce discomfort in some cases of lower back pain caused by muscle strain by providing support to the area while promoting circulation which can reduce swelling and inflammation. However, consult your doctor before using compression garments, as these garments may not be suitable for certain medical conditions or injuries.

Benefits of Compression

Compression garments can provide a variety of benefits for people suffering from lower back pain. Compression clothing can help to improve circulation and reduce inflammation. It can also provide extra support and stability to the area, allowing the body to move easily and without discomfort. Furthermore, compression garments can act as a barrier against further injury.

Let’s take a look at all the benefits of compression and how it can aid in reducing lower back pain:

Improved circulation

The use of compression garments can help improve circulation in the lower back and hips, which can reduce the pain caused by back problems. Compression garments such as tights, shorts, and vests provide extra support that helps improve overall posture while increasing blood flow to sore muscles and ligaments. This increased circulation may allow a person to remain active longer and reduce inflammation.

In addition, compression garments may help stabilize the anatomy of the lower back which can decrease pressure on ligaments or vertebrae thus decreasing discomfort.

Reduced inflammation

Compression of the painful area can help reduce inflammation and provide a soothing effect. It helps to stop further swelling, relax muscles and decrease tension in the lower back. This allows for improved blood flow for healing. It also provides more stability so that you can move around more freely, reducing the risk of re-injury.

Compression can also reduce muscular fatigue by helping to keep muscles supple and prevent lactic acid buildup, which can cause weakness during physical activity. Wearing compression garments during or after an activity or workout could help prevent these symptoms from worsening. The pressure of the compression item keeps muscles in their correct position, limiting chances of excessive movement or strain when engaging in physical activities that require repetitive movements such as running, playing a sport, or lifting weights.

Improved posture

Compression garments aid in improving posture and joint alignment, which can alleviate and even prevent many common posture-related aches and pains. The garment’s snug fit reduces strain on your ligaments and muscles, allowing you to move freely while still relieving any strain on your joints. Compression also works to keep your spine straight when you’re standing or sitting, reducing the chances of an injury due to incorrect posture.

Improved circulation is another key benefit that comes with compression garments. Compression garments apply pressure onto certain areas of the body and work to increase blood circulation as well as oxygen deliverance. This means stronger muscles and ligaments as more nutrients are delivered more efficiently throughout the body, reducing fatigue and pain caused by muscle movement or exertion. The improved blood circulation may also help reduce the appearance of cellulite and improve skin tone over time.

In addition to improved posture, increased blood flow, and relief from back pain, compression garments are beneficial for those who experience swelling or edema in the lower extremities due to prolonged sitting or standing, pregnancy, or medical conditions such as varicose veins. By applying gentle pressure against certain areas of the body, these garments help decrease swelling while providing extra support – especially important during pregnancy – while allowing you maximum mobility at the same time!

Types of Compression

Compression is a type of therapeutic intervention that is becoming increasingly popular for helping to reduce lower back pain. This process involves the application of pressure to the affected area and is typically used to reduce swelling and improve circulation.

There are various forms of compression that can be used for this purpose, including:

  • Elastic bandages.
  • Compression sleeves.
  • Compression stockings.

In this article, we will discuss the different types of compression and how they can help alleviate lower back pain.

Athletic compression wear

Athletic compression wear is specialized clothing that provides a snug fit throughout the entire body to help promote recovery, reduce inflammation, aid muscular performance, and improve overall circulation. Compression garments are constructed using specially designed fabric that helps trap body heat and promotes blood flow. The fabric also helps to enhance muscular stability and support during physical activities; this allows athletes to perform for longer periods of time by helping to maintain their core temperature and stabilize their muscles.

Depending on the type of activity, you can choose from a variety of styles including:

  • Tops
  • Shorts
  • Capris
  • Tanks
  • Leggings
  • Socks–all designed for maximum athletic performance.

Compression garments are available in both long-sleeve and short-sleeve varieties, so it is important to choose the item best suited for quality movement while engaging in your favorite sport. For running or training activities, you should look for extra breathability as these items will be worn close to your skin during use.

Compression braces

Compression braces are designed to offer external musculoskeletal support, increase circulation, and reduce swelling. The compression brace can be used to treat back strains, ligament sprains, herniated discs, and a variety of other injuries. These braces are usually made from lightweight and breathable materials such as Lycra or neoprene for increased comfort.

One of the most common applications of a compression brace is to lessen pain and stiffness caused by lower back injuries. The brace helps to stabilize the spine by providing extra support in the abdominal area while limiting excessive movement and preventing further injury. It will also help with posture awareness and improving technique when engaging in physical activities such as lifting heavy objects or exercising.

In some cases, compression braces have proven to be effective in reducing low back pain more than short-term rest alone. Using a compression brace can help you maintain your level of activity while allowing your body time to heal while it continues working throughout the day. Compression braces may be worn in conjunction with therapeutic exercises or additional treatments prescribed by your physician for greater effectiveness.

Compression wraps

Compression wraps are an effective way to provide support and stability to the lower back. These elastic wraps are typically made from a stretchable material and are designed to provide even, consistent support around a specific area of the body. They can restrict movement, and provide compression and heat retention, which can help reduce pain levels. Compression wraps are often used in conjunction with physical therapy, chiropractic care, or during exercises aimed at strengthening the lower back.

Compression wraps vary in design and materials; however, there are three basic types of compression wraps:

  1. Supportive back braces – These braces typically consist of pockets filled with different types of material such as neoprene, gel, or foam that offer increased support to the core muscles and help reduce stress on other parts of the body.
  2. Stability back belts – Also known as lumbar corsets or cinches, these belts provide compression around the lower abdomen and waist area to help guide movement in order to prevent injury from overstretching muscles.
  3. Heat retention abdominal straps – Also known as sauna belts, these straps tighten around the lower abdomen with Velcro closures designed to retain heat and stimulate the circulation of blood flow through injured areas. This can help reduce inflammation associated with strains or injuries.

Risks of Compression

Wearing compression clothing for back pain relief is becoming increasingly popular, but there are a few risks that come with it. For example, some people may experience skin irritation or rashes due to tight-fitting clothing. Additionally, too much compression can reduce the range of motion and make it difficult to move freely. Finally, the wrong size can put too much pressure on your abdomen and worsen existing back pain.

Let’s take a closer look at the potential risks of compression clothing:

  • Skin irritation or rashes due to tight-fitting clothing.
  • Reduced range of motion and difficulty moving freely.
  • Too much pressure on the abdomen can worsen existing back pain.

Skin irritation

When wearing compression garments, the constant pressure can cause skin irritation and discomfort. Skin irritation from compression garments is more likely to occur if the product does not fit properly; if the material of the garment is too thick, too thin, or an improper quality for its intended use, it can loosen its hold on the affected area and cause skin irritation. Other factors that may result in compression garment-related skin irritation are sweat or moisture build-up on the skin, lack of air circulation due to a lack of ventilation in the fabric, and inadequate washing techniques.

To prevent skin irritation from a compression garment:

  • Choose appropriate sizes. Try on any new item to ensure it fits properly
  • Seek medical advice before purchasing as your medical team can help you identify which items are best for your specific needs
  • Wash according to washing instructions for optimal life and cleanliness
  • Allow for adequate air circulation by purchasing well-ventilated fabrics and materials

Reduced range of motion

Compression of the lower back can lead to a reduced range of motion, which can significantly interfere with daily activities. Although this type of compression is often recommended as a way to provide temporary relief from lower back pain, the long-term side effects should be closely monitored.

Limited range of motion due to lumbar compression can make it difficult for individuals to sit up straight, bend down, or move their arms and legs with full force. Furthermore, prolonged periods of reduced range of motion could increase stiffness in the ligaments and muscles around the area and lead to more severe pain over time.

In addition to reduced range of motion due to compression in the lower back, there is also the potential for nerve damage that may result from improper use or application of compressive materials. Since these materials are designed with a specific amount of pressure that cannot exceed an individual’s capacity for pain tolerance, it is essential that those with existing spinal conditions consult a specialist before using any devices or products related to lumbar compression.


Compression wear has a variety of benefits that can improve performance, however, there are also potential risks associated with their use. One of the most common risks of compression wear is discomfort. This can occur due to overly tight clothing, which can cause abrasions, chafing, and skin irritations. Additionally, poorly designed garments that don’t fit properly can compress nerves and lead to cramping and soreness.

To minimize the risk of discomfort while wearing compression clothing, select garments with the proper size and fit that provide the necessary compression levels for your sport or activity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, a back brace can help with lower back pain. Wearing a back brace can help to reduce strain and pressure on the spine and provide support to help reduce pain and prevent further injury. However, back braces should only be used for short-term pain relief and should not replace other treatments such as physical therapy.

The best way to fix lower back pain is to first identify the cause of the pain and then develop a treatment plan that includes rest, physical therapy, medications (if necessary), exercise, and other lifestyle changes. Your doctor may also recommend acupuncture, massage, or chiropractic care. Additionally, using a lumbar support cushion or a standing desk can help reduce strain on your lower back.

Compression can be applied in a variety of ways to treat lower back pain. The most common forms of compression include ice or heat therapy, wearing a supportive brace or belt, and performing certain stretching exercises. Ice therapy involves applying an ice pack or cold compress to the affected area for 15-20 minutes at a time. Heat therapy involves using a heating pad or hot water bottle to the affected area for 15-20 minutes at a time. Wearing a supportive brace or belt can help provide compression and stability to the lower back. Finally, certain stretching exercises can help to improve flexibility and reduce pain by applying gentle compression to the lower back.

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In conclusion, compression garments like workout wear or back wraps may provide some relief from lower back pain. While there is still not a unanimously accepted agreement from medical experts on the effectiveness of these products, clothing with built-in light tension can be beneficial in providing temporary pain reduction. This type of product may also reduce inflammation and improve the circulation in your back, ensuring the return of more oxygen to the area to improve healing.

Given that there are some physical benefits to wearing compression garments for lower back pain, it is important to discuss these options with a health professional beforehand if you are considering using this type of support. If you find that they do provide some relief, experiment with a range of products as not all fit and materials work equally well for every person’s needs. With guidance and knowledge, compression wear might just be what your lower back needs.

Spine Institute NY