Can Lifting Belts Help Prevent Back Injury?

20 Oct



Legendary Mr. Universe Bill Pearl with Dr. Pete

The legendary bodybuilder and Mr. Universe, Bill Pearl, presented at our Symposium on Natural Fitness a few years back and he was asked  his opinion on lifting belts by an attendee. Bill immediately responded that he didn’t use one, ever. In his experience training his students and the original NASA astronauts, he found that while lifting belts may lend some support during competitive maximal power lifting, training with one regularly actually weakened the core muscles. Lifts like the squat and dead lift significantly stimulate the core musculature and while the belt may help to create a more rigid spine during loading, it acts as a crutch and negates core strengthening.

Ohio State University did research on this in their Orthopaedic Ergonomics Labratory and published 5 studies that explored several hypotheses regarding the biomechanical effectiveness of lifting belts. These include changes in psychophysically determined lifting strength, trunk motions, and trunk stiffness during pulling tasks and sudden loading events.

Click here for the abstracts on all 5 studies

Read the studies for yourself but it appears that their testing  confirms Bill Pearl’s experience that lifting belts do not have a significant impact on spinal mechanics and do not seem to play a strong enough role in protecting the spine or improving spinal function.

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