Back pain is the most common cause of disability and accounts for millions of lost work days every year. Whether it’s lifting objects or bending down, there are daily activities that put a strain on your back. With this in mind, there are researchers developing a new type of clothing designed to help prevent the onset of back pain – they call it smart underwear.

Addressing an age-old problem

A large proportion of all adults will develop back pain at some time in their lives. This is why engineers are working on developing smart under clothing designed to protect against the daily stressors that can cause back pain. The fundamental idea for the smart clothing to help with is that when you attempt to lift an object, a certain portion of the weight is transferred through your spine and can overload your lower back. With the smart clothing in place, you will tap the device every time you lean forward to lift something, and a sophisticated band will take some of the load to ease the burden on your back muscles.

Potential, in the testing phase

Devices in development are in the testing phase and have shown that participants can lift 25 lb and 55 lb weights while holding their position at various angles. These tests have shown a significant reduction in the amount of strain on the muscles of the lower back for participants, and the developers hope that their creation can become the ‘super suit’ that limits back pain for adults everywhere.

An exciting prospect for healthcare professionals

Plans to have this type of smart clothing on the market suggest it could be available within the next year. National and international health organisations are excited about the potential, and may even invest in ways to upgrade and improve on existing models. For example, with the addition of sensors that can predict the type of movement a person is engaging in the device would be able to automatically engage whenever it is needed. Current versions generally involve the user having to tap the device, which could be off-putting for some potential users.