* Prices may differ from that shown
Back at the end of 2005 I was diagnosed with a prolapsed disc and since then I have been under going numerous treatments under the guidance of numerous specialists, but sadly nearly a year later I am still suffering. Whilst searching for possible ways of reducing the pain, I came across the HoMedics back support belt which offers a range of therapies from standard back support, to hot and cold treatment as well as the use of magnets, which is reportedly meant to help the flow of blood. Although sceptical at the power of the magnets, the other therapies that the support offered definitely seemed worthwhile and so promptly ordered one.
>>>> What does it look like?
The back support which I purchased was labelled as Large/ Extra Large which was designed to fit a waist of 35" - 48", although it does comfortably fit around waists as low as 32", but a small/ medium sized belt is also available. The belt itself looks somewhat similar to the ones worn by weight lifters, but it is made of lightweight black Neoprene and instead of a huge buckle, it fastens together using hooks and loops (Velcro). In effect the support is actually made up of 2 separate belts, joined together by stitching across the back. The inner half of the belt is thicker and wider (approximately 8" across) than the outer segment, and it is this part that wraps around the back, providing the support. The outer part is a lightweight elasticised strap that allows you to adjust the belt to the desired fit.
Across the back of the support is a pocket which allows you slide in a gel pack, which is supplied with the belt, allowing you to use it for either hot or cold treatments, although you do not need to have the gel pack in to use the belt for support purposes only. Also across the back is a pattern of 16 neodymium magnets, which are sown into the material and are completely unobtrusive, providing you permanently with the benefits of magnetic therapy. The final part of the belt, consist of 3 flexible rods that are sown vertically into the inner part of the belt, providing support across the lower back.
The user manual does recommend that you hand wash the belt when ever necessary and drip dry, as the use of washing machines and tumble dryers can affect the strength of the rods, and generally make the belt misshapen.
>>>> What does it say it does?
The first thing to note is that in the user manual it states
"HoMedics Magnetic Wave therapy is a NON-MEDICAL method for the treatment of pain. If you suffer from an injury or an ailment, consult a physician for proper medical advice. This product should never be used as a replacement for professional medical treatment." - taken from HoMedics user manual.
So what can it be used for? Well using the belt without the supplied gel pack is claimed to provide back support due to the enclosed rods that are sown into it. It can also be used as heat therapy for the treatments of aches and pains, as well as cold therapy for treatment of injuries, such as sprains, strains and bruises. The final claim is that studies have shown that magnetic therapy can be an effective way of assisting in the relief of pain.
>>>> Ease of use.
The belt itself is very easy to use, as all you have to do is position the belt in the required position and then fasten round the front using the outer strap and the Velcro hooks. It can be used either under or over clothing, but is most effective when fitted underneath clothing.
If you want to use the belt for heat treatment then you need to place the supplied gel pack in a bowl of boiling water for around a minute, but not whilst the water is still being heated. This can be done by heating the water in a pan on the stove, via a bowl of water in the microwave or via using a kettle. It does say that you must not put the gel pack in the microwave, so for me the easiest method is to boil the kettle and then place the gel pad in a Pyrex bowl and pour the hot water over it. Once the pad has become heated, carefully remove from the bowl, dry and slide into the pocket on the belt before putting it on. I repeat carefully, as even after you have removed the pad and dried it, it is incredibly hot.
For the cold treatment, you need to place the gel pad in the freezer for a minimum of four hours before sliding into the belt. What is very good with the way the gel pad has been created is that although it becomes very cold, the pad is still flexible and moulds to the shape of your back when fitted.
Of course there are warnings when using the belt for either hot or cold treatment and these include the risks of burns, do not use if fitted with a pacemaker and not to be used over open wounds amongst other things.
>>>> Does it work?
There are definitely some benefits to wearing this belt. Using the belt without the gel pack definitely provides your back with additional support which I personally find great when I am going for walks and know that by the time the walk is over my back will have given up the will to live. Although generally comfortable whilst walking, the belt does have a habit of digging in when sitting down and the need to loosen it is required. It is also noticeable that the skin underneath the belt does get quite warm from just wearing the belt alone, whether this is to do with the neoprene construction or an effect of the magnets I am not entirely sure, but it can cause mild sweating.
Again there are definitely some benefits from using the support and gel pad for heat therapy. Using the belt on and off, with a heated gel pad, for around an hour does help to ease any lower back pain and as the gel pad seems to hold its temperature for around an hour this process is very easy. Although you should note that heating the pack to long prior to wearing the belt can cause minor burning, so be careful.
The same can be said of using the belt and gel pad for cold therapy. Using the belt on and off over the course of an hour with a frozen gel pad definitely assists in reducing swelling, although the same effect could be gained from a bag of frozen peas.
Whether the magnetic therapy actually works I am not entirely sure of. Other than the additional support to your back, I have not felt any improvement in the level of pain from just using the belt on its own, but you definitely do get a warm sensation, which may be down to these magnets improving the flow of blood. I have even tried laying on this part of the belt after having aggravated my back and still did not feel any benefits of the magnetic therapy. So, I remain sceptical to whether this side of the belt really does work, but some people may definitely find that they feel the benefits of it.
Although it doesn't cure your back problems, and of course it doesn't claim to, it definitely assists in the treatment of pain, as well as strains and bruises. An unforeseen use of the belt, and one which may appeal to anyone who is slightly vain, is the use of the belt as an old fashioned girdle, allowing you to tighten it up to the extent that it reduces the signs of middle age spread, not that I know what this is!
>>>> Price and availability
My HoMedics belt came from Boots and cost £32.99 approximately a year ago, but it can also be found on Amazon.co.uk for the price of £26.66, as well as in Argos for £29.99. I would definitely suggest shopping around as there does seem to be a difference in prices between stockists and a small local chemist may have it at an even better price.
Although I don't need to wear the belt all the time, I definitely feel its benefits whenever I do. The support function of the belt is brilliant and anyone with any lower back pain will feel the benefits of wearing this, especially when you know you are going to do something that will cause your back to be aggravated. Although the heat and cold functions definitely work, the same effect can be gained from using a hot water bottle or a pack of frozen peas, so I wouldn't recommend the purchase of the belt just for these functions. As to whether the magnetic therapy holds any benefits, well I am still sceptical.
The construction of the belt and gel pad is brilliant and having used both on and off for nearly a year, there is very little sign of wear and tear. My only criticism of the belt comes from when you sit down whilst wearing it and it digs in, but this would be the same for the majority of belts and in general the belt is very comfortable to wear.
>>>> About HoMedics
HoMedics have been around for over 15 years and create a whole range of products which include support seats for cars, sound spas to aid in relaxation, footbaths as well as a whole range of support devices for different parts of the body. For further information on all their products visit their website www.homedics.co.uk.
© Christianfilm November 2006
A non-invasive treatment for pain with 3 in 1 therapy options. Heat Therapy for peRiodic treatment of aches and pains. Cold Therapy for peRiodic treatment of injuries such as strains, sprains and bruises.