On any given day, hundreds of thousands of people wear a brace for aching joints or back pain before going to work. Maybe they are recovering from an injury or caring for a skill joint that often needs extra support. Some people suffer from arthritis, others are too active to avoid the occasional injury. But what all these people have in common is the need to wear the brace comfortably at work.
This is a task that is easier said than done. The right exercise brace can make your job easier and less dangerous. But they do fit snugly and can cause circulation or skin problems when the brace has to be worn day in and day out. The good news is that over the centuries people have worn braces, we've developed a lot of tricks to make them more comfortable to wear and more beneficial for long-term use.
If you need to wear a brace day in and day out for work or school, check out these tips to help improve your comfort and the benefits you get from a brace, as an injury recovery asset or as a source of daily joint support.
1. Choose your bracket carefully
The first step is to choose the right bracket. The correct work brace may not be the same as the "correct brace" for pure rehabilitation. There are several factors you need to consider in order to get a brace that is comfortable and even works. You need a brace that provides the necessary range of motion for your work, while also providing the necessary support for your joints. Padding and comfort are a must without sacrificing skin breathability.
Support and range of motion
Think about the activities you need to do in the brace and the movements you have to make. For example, a rigid wristband helps with carpal tunnel, but a compression wristband can help while also allowing you to type at work. Especially for long-term use and later recovery phases, you may want to prioritize softer braces to allow for greater motion while providing the support you need.
Padded and comfortable
Never skimp on fillings. Whether you add your own liner layer or choose a liner holder, the less rigid surfaces that rub against your skin, the better. The padding also ensures greater long-term comfort as you are less likely to experience soreness from the rigid support.
Breathability ensures that the parts of your body you support don't turn into perspiration. When your skin is trapped in non-breathing material, you are at risk of developing a rash. Prioritize breathability for skin health, comfort and general sweat control.
2. Start with clean, dry skin without lotion
Now let's talk about putting on the brace. The next few tips will relate to how to use the brace in your morning routine before work. First, start with clean, dry skin. If you need body lotion, do it at night so you can safely get off the stand in bed or on the couch. In the morning, dry completely after showering before putting on the brace. This ensures that there is minimal moisture between the brace and your skin, and the brace sits comfortably against your skin without sticking.
3. Wear a cotton cloth between the skin and the brace
Another good skincare tip is to make sure there is a thin, soft layer of cotton between the brace and the skin. Cotton absorbs and wicks moisture, keeping your skin in better shape when you're slightly sweaty. No matter how comfortable the stand is, we all sweat while wearing it, simply because of the necessary constraints.
For the back support, there is a soft cotton t-shirt under the back support. Make sure there are no side seams that can penetrate your skin and that the shirt doesn't fold under the stand. For ankle braces, we recommend smooth cotton dress socks, as the terry fabric inside athletic socks can penetrate deep into the skin.
For a wrist brace, a simple cotton handkerchief folded into the brace is a great way to wick away moisture and provide some friction and rigid edge protection. Elbow rests can be worn with a long-sleeve tee, while knee rests can be worn with soft leggings. Otherwise, there are cotton knee and elbow sleeves, or you can use a large cotton handkerchief.
4. Wear loose clothing over braces
If you don't want the stand to be a visible part of your clothing, you can wear loose clothing on the stand in addition to the cotton underneath. Straight-leg or boot-leg pants go smoothly over the knee or ankle braces so your garment's lines aren't shaped by the braces. Wrist and elbow rests can be covered with loose long sleeves, and women can wear sleeves below the wrist for full coverage of the wrist rest if desired.
A loose-fitting, or even unbuttoned, dress shirt can cover the backrest, as can a loose-fitting tunic and an A-line dress that's below the bust. Even if you need to look smart casual or formal while wearing the brace, it can be worn with loose, stylish clothing. Or, if your workplace dress code is casual, you can also wear a hoodie.
5. Use the two-finger fitting method to judge the tightness
When securing the stand, do not pull it as tightly as possible. This is usually too tight and can quickly become uncomfortable and/or cut off your circulation. The most reliable way to securely hold the stand is the two-finger mounting method so that it is supportive without being too tight.
The two-finger method is simple: if you can slide two (your) fingers under the straps, but not three, then your brace is the correct tightness. If you can only fit one, it's too tight. Use your own fingers as this has to do with the size of your body relative to yourself and your blood pressure.
6. Take off the air stand twice a day
In most cases, you won't want to wear a brace 100% of the time at work. More than 8 hours is probably too long, and most doctors will recommend that you only wear it for a few hours at a time. This means you'll need to take off the stand at least twice during your workday to ventilate the stand and massage your skin.
Every work routine is different, so choose two or three times a day when you can safely remove the stand and keep it still. Maybe these will be your work and meal times. But it could also be a time when you're safely reading, not typing, at your desk. Or have a meeting with friends who won't mind if you put the stand on the table while you're taking a break. Or, if you work out of town, drive with colleagues as a passenger.
Just make sure to ventilate the brace and joint a few times a day. It's also smart to swap out cotton, sleeves, or shirts for dry ones when you put the brace back on.
7. Be aware of stress areas
When removing the brace, check your body for pressure points. These are hot, itchy, or painful areas where the brace is pressing too hard or rubbing against the area. You may recognize this problem from wearing new shoes that don't fit well. Pressure areas can be dangerous because they can make wearing a brace more painful, even when needed. Spot stress areas early and make adjustments to eliminate them. Change the way the stand is secured, the padding or fabric used, or you may need to replace the stand completely.
8. Try different braces
It's always okay to try different brackets. You may even find a small selection of braces handy for different tasks. You may need rigid security for one task, and flexibility for dexterous work in another. Replacing braces can reduce the chance of developing pressure areas, and they can provide various types of support depending on your needs.
You may find that the brace you try is slightly different from your body shape or size, this is also normal. Try several braces and brace types, especially if you will be wearing braces on a regular basis for a long time and will benefit from ideal fit and function.
9. Get help when you need it
If you need help putting on or taking off the stand, please ask. Most people don't mind helping with quick Velcro straps or buckles. Especially if they know you'll be a friendlier and more effective co-worker when your brace is right. While it's best to be completely independent of your self-care routines, such as managing your brace, it's better to seek help than put on an unsuitable brace or leave your brace off all day because takeoffs are difficult.
10. Keep your braces clean and lint-free
Sports straps that you wear every day can get very dirty. Don't forget to keep the stand clean. If it's washable, go through the wash. If not, hand wash the stand and dry it about once a week. It's especially important when you're wearing clean braces at work because it helps you look neat.
One trick learned by professionals wearing braces is the lint roller. If your brace or brace's Velcro becomes too shaggy, a quick lint roll can restore your Velcro to snuff condition and reduce the sloppy appearance of a well-used brace.
11. Stay positive and functionally avant-garde
Last but not least, stay optimistic. Yes, it sounds tacky. But attitude really matters if you want to wear the brace comfortably at work. If you focus on how the brace feels, you'll notice with every rub, the pressure may start to bother you. So keep yourself busy, distracted, and active. Once you get used to the stand, you might even forget it's there. This is ultimately the goal of designing a comfortable and well-fitting exercise brace.