Could Your Belt Lead to Back Pain?

Victoria sent us the following question:

Dear Dr. Manny, 

I have been experiencing back pain for some time now and a friend mentioned that the source of my pain could be the type of belt that I like to wear. Is there anything to her suggestion? 

Well Victoria something you wear everyday could be the cause of your back pain. To find out what health issues might creep up on you from wearing a bad belt, and how to prevent them we reached out to an industry insider:

Many of us put on a belt everyday without even giving it second thoughts. But few know the risks these accessories pose when they come in  the wrong size, or from poor manufacturing quality. 

Size matters

Wearing a belt size that’s too small may cause lower back pain, heartburn and discomfort.

A wrong size might expose you to a series of risks. If you don’t know how to correctly measure your belt size (and most of us don’t).

What are you risking when wearing the wrong sized belt?

Wearing the wrong belt not only looks.. bad, but also causes huge discomfort that can seriously put your health in danger. Some of the issues you could be suffering from are:

1. Acid Reflux (Heartburn)
Wearing your belt too tight puts pressure to the stomach which causes acid to reflux and make its way to the throat. The result causes a burning sensation in the stomach, chest and throat and a bitter, acidic taste in your mouth.

A medical study carried out by the University of Glasgow revealed that there are some links between wearing your belt too tight and symptoms that can lead to throat cancer. However, for those of you who are worried about cancer, the NHS has dismissed this study calling it unnecessary alarmist.

2. Abdominal pain
Wearing a tight belt can disturb the digestive flow, slowing down the whole digestive process. That’s bad already, since many of us complain about a slow metabolism, but pressure makes it difficult for gas and food to move down. This often causes bloating, pain and constipation.

3. Lower back and spinal pain
Research has linked increased pressure in the abdomen with stiffness in the spine and extra stress on your back. So that extra ergonomic help you had from the office chair isn’t doing much if your belt still sits extra tight on your waist. The back pain is a terrible result of nerve compression which takes place when pressure is applied.

4. Leg tingling and numbness
Did you get that annoying leg tingling and numbness? It might be your belt, again.

Not only can tight belts be uncomfortable (especially after a big meal), but they can also cause burning pain, numbness, sensitivity at a light touch and tingling in the legs. This is a  condition known as meralgia paresthetica. Don’t bother pronouncing it, but be aware that this is exactly what a tight belt does to your nerves.

5. Reproductive system damage
If back pain and heartburn didn’t scare you enough, we have bad news: a tight belt can mean reproductive problems for men and women alike.

Reduced air access and increased temperature causes increased humidity and overheat your private areas. This is known as “heat castration” (how barbaric!) and increases the risk of infectious diseases.

6. Immune system damage
Lastly, your immune system can suffer too – yes, just from one single bad belt!

Increased pressure on the abdomen can have consequences on the immune system’s normal way of functioning. Let’s explain: blood vessels below the stomach take care of the lymphatic drainage. If the belt is too tight on the waist, it slows down the lymph flow, which then directly interferes your immune protection.

The solution to avoid all these problems is simple:

Remember that after every meal, the stomach needs to relax. So try loosening the belt after each delicious meal.

Our advice?

To properly measure for a good belt size, go two sizes up your normal size, or two inches extra compared to your waist size. Find out more on how to find out your proper belt size in this guide.
Production matters – would you wear something with no idea where it came from?
The manufacturing process, the materials used and the buckle type, all play a very important role in avoiding  rashes and other allergic reactions. Allergies may occur from the low quality of belt buckles and fabrics.

What are you risking when wearing a bad quality belt?

1. Allergies to metal belt buckles 
It’s not your diet. Out of the blue rashes don’t come from your last meal. Perhaps you should take a look at that new big buckle belt you bought.

People who wear big buckles on their belts often complain about unexpected rashes.

This condition is known as belt buckle rash and takes place when the person is allergic to certain metal alloys that contain nickel. Nickel is one of the most common cause for allergic contact dermatitis and is commonly used in the production of cheap belt buckles.

2. Chemically treated fabrics
If you don’t know where and how your belt was produced, you might be exposing your precious skin to belts who have been chemically treated or produced with cheap leather substitutes.

Always try to find out what type of materials have been used in the manufacturing process.

Even the biggest fashion chains treat their products with bad stuff, so make sure to buy locally. A report from Greenpeace detailed the amount of toxic chemicals used in clothes from a lot of brands many people love to wear daily.

What should I wear instead?

The solution: Try to buy locally sourced accessories and seek out manufacturers who practice transparent production processes. Try to avoid metals that aren’t hypoallergenic because they might be inappropriate for your skin. Belts without nickel in their buckles may be worth looking up.

Avoiding the most common mistakes and taking some precaution measures will keep you healthy. Try to pay more attention to things around you and always remember: loosen up your belt!

Tell us, were you wearing your belt too tight?

Did you follow this advice and experienced less pain?

What were the results?

Author Info: The Belts From OZ team is a family owned business from Melbourne, Australia who makes high-quality genuine leather belts for women and men, and a range of enameled and plain pewter belt buckles. We don’t use any cheap substitutes, only real genuine Australian and Italian leather.