Study design: An in vivo study on weightlifters.
Objectives: To determine if and how a stiff back belt affects spinal compression forces in weightlifting.
Summary of background data: In weightlifting, a back belt has been reported to enhance intraabdominal pressure (IAP) and to reduce back muscle EMG and spinal compression forces.
Methods: Nine experienced weightlifters lifted barbells up to 75% body weight while inhaling and wearing a belt, inhaling and not wearing a belt, and exhaling and wearing a belt. IAP, trunk muscle EMG, ground reaction forces, and kinematics were measured. An EMG-assisted trunk model, including IAP effects, was used to calculate spinal compression and shear forces and to reveal the contribution of back muscles, abdominal muscles, and IAP to moment generation.
Results: The belt reduced compression forces by about 10%, but only when inhaling before lifting. The moment generated by IAP increased when wearing a belt and inhaling, but this moment was small and the increase was largely negated by the flexing moment generated by abdominal muscles.
Conclusions: Wearing a tight and stiff back belt while inhaling before lifting reduces spine loading. This is caused by a moment generated by the belt rather than by the IAP.