How to Choose a Back Brace to Improve Posture & Reduce Pain

Millions of people suffer from some form of back pain. From mild or moderate discomfort to severe,  debilitating pain, back issues are as varied as the people who have them, and because of this, back supports need to be equally diverse.

Statistics show that back pain affects millions of people every year, but having adequate support for the spine is an essential solution to mitigate pain and discomfort. Back braces provide additional stability for the spinal column, offsetting the pain and discomfort of any activity, and aiding in treatment and recovery from a wide variety of injuries or conditions.

How to Choose a Back Brace

The most important factor to consider when choosing a back brace is where you want to focus the support, whether it be your lower, middle, upper back, shoulders, or a combination of these areas. In addition to the specific area of the back that needs support, there are also a variety of designs and materials available for you to choose from. 

Certain styles, formats, and materials may be better for certain conditions and even just for certain people’s bodies, so in order to choose the right back brace for you, it’s important to consult a physician if possible. However, most back braces can be broken into one of three categories based on the materials they’re made with. These are flexible, semi-rigid, and rigid. 

Types of Back Braces

Back braces are typically categorized in two ways: either by their level of support or the area of the back that they target. Braces are available in models that provide support to the lower, middle, or upper back, and you probably know which one of those you need already. So, for our purposes, we’ll focus on the categorization of braces by support level, also known as rigidity. 



Rigid braces provide the highest level of support and stability for the spine, featuring hard panels on the front, back, and/or the sides of the brace. These rigid components will often be joined by a sturdy layer of cotton or canvas that wraps around the torso. Some models also include hard plastic or metal bars that cover the outside of the brace for maximum support.

Due to their hard, unbendable construction, rigid braces are ideal for people who either have severe pain, or are recovering from some sort of injury or procedure that requires their back to be mostly immobilized. These braces offer relief by applying firm pressure that shifts weight from the spinal column, taking pressure off of weakened or injured structures there. They also significantly reduce range of motion and even micro-motion in the spinal segments, which is great for post-surgical applications.



Flexible braces provide firm support through softer materials like cotton, elastic, canvas, neoprene, or a combination of several. Like the name indicates, these braces are flexible, meaning they allow more freedom of movement and are often worn by users who need more versatile back support. Flexible braces are available in many different designs in a variety of sizes including compression braces, lumbar belts, & sacroiliac belts.

Flexible braces work by applying light pressure to the torso that encourages posture adjustment while also shifting weight off of the spinal column. They help limit excessive movement, reducing bending and twisting and provide compression that stabilizes the spine to reduce micromotion in loose or weakened joints.


Semi-rigid braces combine elements of both flexible and rigid braces within one design. This is typically done by adding rigid supports or additional stiff padding to the body of a flexible brace. Sometimes these added supports are removable, allowing the user to customize the level of stability to their unique needs.

A good example of a semi-rigid brace is the corset brace, which looks similar to a woman's corset, featuring vertical metal or plastic stays that offer stability and limit movement. These stays are sometimes included around the entire circumference of the brace, or just in a few places on the front, back, or sides, depending on the amount of support provided.

What features should I look for in a back brace?

A good back brace should protect and support the back, keeping the muscles and spine free from injury, fatigue, physical stress, and incorrect posture. It should help relieve pain as well as retrain the body to help maintain proper positioning and alignment. 

In addition to the variety of styles, materials, and support levels offered by back braces, users also have the option to choose from a wide selection of unique features that offer specialized accommodation for any user’s needs.

Therapeutic Magnets

Some back belts include therapeutic magnets, which are specially designed to help improve circulation and stimulate the body’s own healing system to not only improve pain, but also to help heal injuries and retrain the body for correct posture.

Moldable Materials

While many braces offer multiple sizes or adjustable fasteners, some supports go a step further by featuring custom-moldable panels or brace components that allow each user to totally mold the brace to their unique body shape.

Inflatable Panels

Another solution for a perfect, custom fit is the addition of inflatable panels inside the brace. This also allows users to adjust the amount of pressure on specific areas of the back, helping to relieve stress on more painful areas, or reduce compression if it becomes uncomfortable. Certain braces also offer the option to insert or remove these panels for increased customization.

Massaging Components

While standard braces offer support and stability for the spine to relieve pain, some braces also incorporate relaxing massage-like components to help de-tense the muscles and reduce pain and stiffness. Some accomplish this feat with electric massagers, but others feature round wooden nodules that stimulate and massage the back or a unique pad system that massages and decompresses the muscles surrounding the spine.

Hot and Cold Therapy

In addition to back support, some braces take a dual-pronged approach to pain relief, also integrating a convenient slot for hot or cold packs. These braces allow you to not only support and stabilize your back, but also to relieve pain, stiffness, and inflammation through the use of hot or cold therapy without having to remove your brace.


From a minor strain to recovering from back surgery, back braces provide support and stability that helps people relieve pain and get back to living their lives. But choosing the right brace isn't as simple as just picking one that will fit, it's important to think about the portion of the spine that needs support, the level of support required, and if there are any additional components that would be beneficial for your needs.

Rehabmart is proud to offer a wide selection of back braces and spinal supports to help relieve pain and improve your posture. Whether you’re just researching or ready to make your final purchase, visit us at for more information.


Megan has been a part of Rehabmart since its inception nearly 20 years ago. For the past several years she has been enjoying her role as HR Director while maintaining her Physical Therapy license. When she isn't working on her next in-service or working to find a new team member, she enjoys her five children, helping those who have PT type ailments, baking, practicing yoga, and working out.

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