Brace Yourself

Back support for muscle back. Man wearing orthopedic brace to support core and lower back, rear view

Brace Yourself

Brace Yourself- By Dr Angus Southwell (Chiropractor)

Braces and splints have been used to treat certain acute injuries such as twisted ankles, wrist sprains, knee dislocations etc. But in some cases, these contraptions have been used for managing joint pain caused by arthritis or previous injuries that never seemed to heal properly.

Are these braces effective in treating these long-standing chronic conditions? Or are they exacerbating the issue?

The primary use of a brace or a splint is to apply pressure to the injured site to prevent blood flow and prevent the area from swelling. This promotes the healing time of the injury as well as reduces the pain experienced. In terms of weightlifting, knee sleeves are used to reduce the point of contraction in order to achieve a better outcome with each lift (1).

Braces and splints are primarily used for short-term uses such as the reasons listed above. When looking into the long-term use of the brace, the body could end up with adverse effects once the brace has been removed. According to an article published by the Journal of Applied Physiology titled “Long-term physical inactivity exacerbates induced muscle atrophy in rats” Stated that “Muscle tissue has the tendency to become atrophied when there is inactivity within the individual (2).” Although in most cases when the brace is used long-term, the wearer is not usually inactive, in fact, they wear the brace to move around. However, the area that is being braced will be less active in comparison to when it isn’t braced.

This then causes an imbalance of muscle growth and if done long enough, the body can build up a dependence on the brace. Once the brace is removed, the joint that was dependent on the brace would cease to function correctly and hence become unstable making it more susceptible to further injury.

Bibliography:

Meyer, D. C., Gerber, C., Von Rechenberg, B., Wirth, S. H., & Farshad, M. (2011). Amplitude and strength of muscle contraction are reduced in experimental tears of the rotator cuff. The American journal of sports medicine, 39(7), 1456–1461. https://doi.org/10.1177/0363546510396305
Yoshihara, T., Natsume, T., Tsuzuki, T., Chang, S. W., Kakigi, R., Machida, S., Sugiura, T., & Naito, H. (2021). Long-term physical inactivity exacerbates hindlimb unloading-induced muscle atrophy in young rat soleus muscle. Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985), 130(4), 1214–1225. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00494.2020