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Oh, my achin’ back!

By Shadow

BestBack Lumbar Belt

Colors: Iron, Lady or Orange; sizes XS through 3XL $129

After my latest attack of sciatica, a condition that in my case is caused by the pinching of several branches of my sciatic nerve between two of my vertebrae, my chiropractor prescribed a back brace to support my lumbar region and ease the excruciating pain I was experiencing. I picked up one of those elastic support belts available at surgical supply shops and home improvement centers. Although the belt did help somewhat, it pinched, doubled over and popped open at the most inopportune times.

Then I remembered seeing the BestBack display at a rally. In fact, I saw a number of people wearing them that weekend. The BestBack lumbar belt was developed especially for motorcyclists, whose backs are under tremendous strain, whether riding a rigid or sitting in one position for hours on end during long road trips. It’s the only product I know of that’s focused on back problems associated with riding, so I called BestBack and ordered a lumbar belt.

The BestBack lumbar belt and a nifty carry bag arrived in a few days (the order is shipped via UPS the same day your credit card is run), and I followed the easy instructions that came with the product. I placed the belt over my T-shirt, as indicated; pulled the large main flaps tight and wrapped them around my body, attaching them over my abdomen, one over the other, with the Velcro strip. Instead of the flaps lying evenly around my body as shown in the instruction pamphlet, my chiropractor recommended that the ends of the flaps be attached so that they angled down in a V across my abdomen to more closely conform to the female shape.

Once the corset-like belt was fitted correctly, I grasped the side straps and pulled them until they reached the tension I wanted; and then used the side straps’ Velcro fasteners to attach them to the top of the abdominal belt flaps. For women, the side straps should also be angled downward in a V-shape. Note that it took longer to write this process down than it did to fasten and adjust the belt.

The BestBack belt is made of cotton, so it’s breathable, moisture-wicking, washable and comfortable. One unique feature is BestBack’s patented interweaving locking mechanism. The straps, an integral part of the system, are made of high-grade polyurethane chosen because the material is resilient, long-lasting and doesn’t stretch out of shape over time.

Eight thin, flexible steel stays are placed vertically throughout the brace. When you engage the straps and you feel the compression of the brace, it’s also engaging the steel stays, creating a cage around your torso and protecting your lower back. Regardless of how restrictive this sounds, the product doesn’t limit your movement at all, and it keeps your back in proper alignment when you’re sitting, standing or bending.

The Velcro used for the belt is a very high-grade version, and the large “sticky” section prevents it from popping off or wearing out. The Velcro doesn’t fuzz up or pick up foreign materials, so the fastening properties remain as effective as when the product is new. Underneath each strap, a small nylon strap provides reinforcement. There are thumb pulls on the straps that make it easier to pull closed and to achieve the proper compression.

The lumbar belt isn’t BestBack’s first product. BestBack’s parent company has been building orthopedic devices—specializing in back braces—for over 50 years, so their products have been tested over time. The BestBack lumbar belt is recommended for all sorts of spinal problems, including lumbar muscle spasms, lumbago, sciatica, disc problems and a host of other back-related maladies.

Although when I first hurt my back I could barely walk—let alone throw a leg over my bike—the BestBack helped stabilize my spine so that with the proper treatment, I recovered quickly. I wore it on my ride to Laconia, about 350 miles from my home, and it not only increased my comfort level by protecting my back from bumps and bounces on the road, but it improved my riding posture, as well. I also wore it while carrying heavy camera and video equipment that, in the past, had caused me great discomfort by the end of the day.

The BestBack website could use updating, but maybe they put their money into development of a great product instead. The website does have a sizing guide, and you can call the company’s toll-free number to order. There’s no waiting for the BestBack to come from a warehouse because they’re always in stock at the company’s U.S. headquarters.

My chiropractor is concerned with flexibility, adjustability, fit and support when it comes to back braces, and when I wore the BestBack lumbar belt to one of our appointments, he proclaimed, “Perfect!” I couldn’t agree more.

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