Best Seat Cushion for Back Pain – 2022 Chiropractors Guide

   This post has been quality checked in line with our Editorial and Research Policy.

If you’re like most people, you spend a lot of time sitting. And if you suffer from back pain, that can be a significant issue. But don’t worry, there is a solution: I will show you the best seat cushion for back pain.  I will give you vital advice about seat cushions that will change your life. Here are my secrets, and they’re not just any old tips but the key ingredients for comfort and support in both work AND leisure time!

As a general rule, the best seat cushion for back pain should have a natural latex foam top and a high-density foam base designed to provide spinal stability and comfort. Using an ergonomic seat cushion will help you distribute your weight evenly, and you won’t overload your spine.

Why You Should Read This:

I have been treating patients with back pain for decades. My philosophy has always been that if you get your sitting, standing, and sleeping postural correct, you will be in a much better place. And chances are, you won’t need chiropractors or physical therapists. Saying that I am not against chiropractors or physical therapists. They both have their place in helping people who need extra care.

The point is that I have treated hundreds of patients with neck pain, mid-back pain, low back pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, arm pain, and leg pain. The vast majority of these patients had poor posture. Once I got them in proper alignment, their pain would typically fall by the wayside.

Chiropractic Adjustments Were Not Enough…

chiropractic adjustments

As a chiropractor, I often see patients complaining of pain in their backs, necks, or joints. After unknotting their muscles and aligning their bones, I always emphasize the importance of maintaining good posture and keeping their bodies in alignment. However, even after getting relief from their chiropractic adjustments, many patients return to their old sitting, standing, and sleeping in poor alignment. This weakening of their core can eventually lead to another breakdown and another round of pain. I always stress the importance of proactive care to my patients, but it can be frustrating to see them relapse into old patterns that will only cause them more pain in the long run. (source)

Education Didn’t Work Either…

educating patients did not work

I tried education, giving prescribed exercises, to my patients so that they too would be proactive themselves and take more responsibility in maintaining their core and balanced posture. However, unfortunately, I found education and exercise to be pointless because they rarely worked for anybody.

I would explain the importance of having a strong core and good posture, showing them how to do specific exercises that would help them achieve this. Many times they would leave my office feeling motivated and confident that they could finally overcome years of pain by doing these exercises on their own.

However, in follow-up appointments, it became clear that very few of them were actually doing the exercises or seeing any improvement. Some patients would sheepishly admit that they had only done the exercises a few times, while others would insist that they had been doing them religiously but still weren’t seeing any results.

It was frustrating to see so many people struggling with pain that could potentially be alleviated if they only adopted a few simple lifestyle changes. In the end, I came to the conclusion that education and exercise prescription were simply not enough to make lasting changes.

Life-Changing Event…

life changing event

The unthinkable happened 11 years ago when I was in a car accident that left me with severe damage to my neck and left arm. I was devastated! I had always been so active and physically fit, and now I was the one making rounds to chiropractors, doctors, and pain management specialists. I tried everything to get better, but nothing worked. My surgical colleagues consulted with me and told me that I had exhausted all my options and that surgery was my only hope.

As I was going through my tough times, I felt like my story was unique and that no one could relate to what I was going through. As I reflect, I realize that everyone has their setbacks and challenges. Sometimes, when everything seems to be falling apart, the best thing you can do is simply let things be. Answers will come to you. It was certainly the case for me when I realized that things would improve if I rebooted my system and focused on my structure.

Understanding How the Body Works…

how the body works

I have always been interested in body mechanics and how the body moves. Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated by how the body moves and works together. I started to look deeper into it and found that I needed to focus on developing a stronger core. Once I developed a strong core, everything else should start falling into place.

When dealing with my injuries, I wanted to ensure that I was doing everything possible to help my body heal. I knew that part meant getting my body mechanics right all day. I didn’t want my body to get used to the injuries and adapt to them in a way that would make it harder for them to heal. Instead, I needed to actively adapt by getting my sitting, standing, and sleeping in perfect alignment. This would help my body heal more quickly and effectively. And, over time, it would also help prevent further injuries from occurring.

Getting Spinal Alignment Right…

Regarding spinal alignment, a few things are more important than comfort and core muscle engagement. I found in my practice that a weak and imbalanced CORE is almost always the CORE cause of back problems. The best way to achieve a strong and balanced core while sitting is to ensure that all of your foundational muscles are engaged. This means engaging your abdominals, hips, glutes, back, and leg muscles. You should feel a sense of stability and support throughout your entire trunk. (source)

My Research…

sEMG scans for back pain analysis

I used sEMG technology to study the effects of back pain on people (sEMG scans measure muscle imbalances). I obtained objective data about what makes these individuals more comfortable when seated by testing various materials, designs, and angles to find a combination that worked for most patients suffering from pain. The key was finding enough cushioning without being too soft or firm. It needs to support the spine and evenly distribute weight throughout your body with an angled design that helps alleviate discomfort when sitting.

The Rabbit Hole…

After struggling to find the perfect solution online, I went down a rabbit hole and purchased many different products. Nothing felt right or helped stabilize my spinal injuries or, more importantly, my patients! There were so many options that all looked similar with cheap materials like memory foam – it’s no wonder people have such a poor understanding of basic human body sitting mechanics!cheap memory foam seat cushions

I was shocked by how little attention is paid to design for something meant to be used daily. Not one single product could withstand even close inspection. Why do we accept such poor quality when it comes to something we use daily? Our bodies are incredible machines and deserve the best care and support. It’s time to demand more from the producers of these products! Design better products that take into account the needs of our bodies and don’t cut corners with cheap materials. We deserve better!

Most of the ‘Ergonomic’ seat cushions had this same design. I  had countless patients complaining about how these cushions had almost no support or comfort. The only apparent difference was the cover or branding, as seen in the pictures above and below:

cheap gel foam seat cushions

If It’s to Be, Then It’s Up to Me?

My research into the perfect seat cushion led me down a path of discovery, where I found that it’s not just about providing support for your back but also making sure you’re comfortable all-around. Testing various materials and designs on patients helped me arrive at an optimal combination to ensure optimum spinal alignment without discomfort! Here are some findings explicitly related to the best way to sit pain-free:

The Best Way to Sit Pain-Free

Here’s a little-known fact: people with back pain should not sit up straight. Those who suffer from chronic back pain should increase the trunk-to-thigh ratio in their seats so that their spinal disc pressure is reduced by up to 35% when changing this angle as far as 110 degrees.

drawing of 4 different seating loading positions

The picture below shows how slouching and hunching forward can cause serious back problems. Stooping and slouching forward should be avoided if you suffer from back pain. When you adopt this posture, your spinal cord is compressed and you are putting substantial stress on your back.

correct angle posture cushion wedge vs bad seating without posture wedge

The ideal recline angle for reducing disc pressure was 135 degrees, but working in that position is impossible. As a result of using sEMG scans with my patients at various seating angles and by having them sit on an ergonomic seat cushion or office chair (with adjustable height), I found out that most people felt comfortable when their hip height was 3-4 inches higher than the knee block they’re sitting down against–the easiest way is achieved through using a well designed ergonomic seat cushion. However, there can be flaws here, so let me guide you through any potential landmines/dead ends.

I’ve written a complete hands-on review about the best sitting position for sciatica, and here is what I tested best with my sciatica patients.

Ergonomic Seat Cushions

Here is a TV video of me explaining my findings on the correct angle of seat ergonomics for back pain sufferers:

How Can You Tell if the Seat Cushion Is Ergonomic?

Ergonomic cushions are designed to provide support and comfort, and they often come with various features.  However, there are key features that all ergonomic seat cushions must have to be effective:

  • multiple foam layers
  • proper types of foam
  • pressure point relief
  • resiliency
  • ergonomic design

Multiple Foam Layers

Most back support seat cushions are made of one piece of foam. High-end back support seat cushions come with two main types of comfort layers. I recommend purchasing a cushion with at least two layers of comfort. The ergonomic seat cushion in the picture below is my latest design. thespinery.com seat cushion

What are the differences between these layers?  Put simply; they can make all the difference between being comfortable and uncomfortable while sitting.

The main criteria for the layers of a seat support cushion:

  • Your chair’s seat base is made of foam, which provides the chair with a high-quality foundation. The foam can support up to 96kg per square meter.
  • A soft, comfortable layer covers the seat top, keeping you cool and protected. Constructed to be comfortable (56-68 kg/m3).
  • It is best to use natural latex for foam. Other types of synthetic latex cannot match the comfort, resilience, and alignment of natural latex since they do not have the same properties as human skin!
  • With multiple layers of comfort and support, pressure points on the sitter will be relieved. Although conforming consistency is essential, comfort layers should not sag excessively where weight is concentrated.

foam pressure density chart

Density of Foams

Getting the foam right is essential for seat cushion comfort. Depending on the level of firmness and support you require, the weight (density) of a foam determines both its longevity and quality: lightweight, medium weight, or heavyweight:

  • Low Density – Unlike other types of seats, these don’t take up a lot of space and offer very little support.
  • Medium-Density – This type of foam is average and cheap.
  • High-Density – Designed to last longer and handle heavier usage.

seat foam density chart

Choose a high-resilience foam seat if you’re looking for a comfortable seat. This material is durable and expensive, but if money isn’t a concern, it will provide you with unparalleled comfort!

The feeling of investing in a product only for it not to fulfill its promise is universal. The best seat cushions on the market should have characteristics like resilience and longevity because this type has been proven. A quality seat cushion is made from materials that provide comfort, support, and resilience. Long-term use of these chairs is more comfortable because they are ergonomically designed. Your back and overall health will greatly benefit from the right cushion, whether traveling on airplanes or sitting at your desk all day.

High-Density Foams

High-density foam seat cushions are so popular other than their price. While these seats provide comfort without giving off a sense of luxury as more expensive types of materials would; however, they lack any kind of resiliency, so they are best for short trips rather than long ones where you might need support against bumps on the road or noises coming from outside your car!

Memory Foams

Memory foam is a denser, more expensive material than polyurethane. I don’t recommend memory foams for seat cushions because they’re difficult to clean and can cause pressure points under your weight if you sit on them too long!

I was surprised how similar cheap memory foam seat cushions were on Aliexpress from the listing on Amazon!

The downside of memory foam

  • generally made from petrochemicals
  • not ideal for ergonomics or pressure points
  • uncomfortable
  • too flimsy which slowly recovers
  • Poor airflow
  • Toxic VOCs
  • lifespan not good

seat cushion foam density chart

Natural Latex

Due to its exceptionally soft feel and springy quality, natural latex foam is considered one of the best materials for seat cushions. They are ideal to use all day long since continuous movement means healthy discs.

Benefits of natural latex foam:
  • Great for spinal support
  • Comfortable
  • Dust mite-proof and anti-microbial properties
  • made from natural sources – no toxic ingredients.
  • Great aeration
  • perpetual movement
  • lasts longer

Pressure Support Relief

Natural latex

natural latex cushion seat cushion

Natural latex is an excellent material for pressure support. It is very dense and supportive yet still has a bit of giving to it. This makes it perfect for ergonomic seat cushions, providing support while still being comfortable. Natural latex is also very durable, so it will last many years with proper care. In addition, natural latex is naturally hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites, making it an excellent choice for people with allergies or sensitivities. Natural latex is a great option if you are looking for a material that can provide excellent pressure support. (source)

Memory foam

memory foam seat wedge bad

Memory foam seat cushions are often marketed as incredibly comfortable, but for my patients, they end up causing more pain than they relieve. One of the main problems with memory foam is that it doesn’t provide enough support for the body, particularly for people who suffer from back pain. Memory foam conforms to the body’s shape, resulting in the spine being out of alignment. In addition, memory foam doesn’t have the same bounce level as other natural foams (like latex), which can make it challenging to change positions and get comfortable. It is my opinion that for people who suffer from chronic pain, memory foam seat cushions can make the problem worse by exacerbating pressure points.

Gel foam

cheap memory foam seat cushion

Gel-infused seat cushions are a little firmer than your average memory foam cushion because they have been infused with silicone gel. This makes the surfaces of these seat cushions feel cooler to the touch. I was surprised how similar cheap memory foam seat cushions were on Aliexpress from the listing on Amazon!

foam comparison chart

Resiliency

Foam is unique because it returns to its original shape after being compressed. The open-cell structure also allows for elasticity and durability, so even though the material slowly decays over time, this type of mattress padding will still offer some support!

Ergonomic Seat Cushion Design

An ergonomic seat cushion can help to relieve back pain by providing support and improving your posture. When used correctly, a well-designed seat cushion will help to reduce the curve in your lower spine and tilt your pelvis forward. This will improve your sitting posture and help to prevent back pain. An orthopedic cushion can also provide additional comfort by enhancing your sitting surface.

seat cushion for better posture

The ergonomic seat cushion in the picture above is my latest design. 

When you sit upright, you essentially allow gravity to do its job and keep your joints, discs, and ligaments in alignment. This increases blood flow because there is less pressure on these areas, which improves circulation. Additionally, sitting upright helps strengthen the muscles because they are used against gravity.

**The cover of the ergonomic seat cushion should have a washable 4D stretch and a non-slip bottom. It should also have a handle so you can easily carry it wherever you go. This will help ensure that you always have good posture, even when sitting for long periods. The cushion should also be comfortable enough to use for extended periods and easy to clean. Overall, the perfect ergonomic seat cushion will provide support and comfort while helping to improve your posture.

Here is a caveat:  When choosing an ergonomic cushion, it is crucial to find one that offers the right level of support. The seat angle should be between 8 and 13 degrees, and the cushion should be firm enough to provide support without being too soft. Sitting on an ergonomic cushion for short periods can help to improve posture and relieve back pain. pregnant woman on kneeling chair

Do Orthopedic Seat Pillows Work?

As a general rule, orthopedic seat pillows support the spine and relieve pressure on the lower back. Many people who suffer from chronic lower back pain find that these pillows can help to reduce or eliminate their pain. In addition, orthopedic seat pillows can also help to prevent the development of chronic lower back pain.

There are many different types of orthopedic seat pillows available on the market, and choosing one that is right for you is important. If you are unsure about which type of pillow to choose, you may want to consult with a chiropractor or physical therapist. Ultimately, however, the best way to determine whether an orthopedic seat pillow is to educate yourself on what your body needs.

thespinery.com latex seat posture cushion

When choosing a chair cushion, there are many factors to consider. But if you’re looking for a seat cushion to help improve your posture and alleviate back pain, a well-designed seat wedge cushion is a good option. Wedge cushions create a surface that helps improve the angle between your torso and legs, which can be helpful for those with poor positioning skills. Additionally, sitting upright with straight legs helps to improve circulation and puts gravity to work, helping to relieve pressure on joints. So if you’re looking for a cushion to help improve your posture and reduce back pain, a wedge cushion is worth considering.

 

do seat wedge cushions work?

Benefits of Ergonomic Seat Cushions:

  • Improves posture *
  • Support for the low back *
  • Relieve sciatica *
  • Support Your Tailbone 
  • Core muscles are engaged.
  • Helps with Hamstring Tendinopathy *
  • Arthritis patients will find this a great option
  • Enjoy your travels in comfort
  • After Childbirth: Recovering
  • Circulate better

I’ve written a complete hands-on review about why your stomach is flat until you sit down, and here are some of the shocking issues I ran into in this post!

How Do You Use a Posture Cushion?

thespinery.com seat foundation

To use a wedge cushion, simply place the sloped side facing forward and sit up straight. The wedge will help correct your posture and support your back. Additionally, wedge cushions are perfect for hard surfaces such as wood floors or tiles. They can also be used with soft seating, such as sofas or chairs. When using a wedge cushion with soft seating, frequently adjust your position to ensure that the weight of your body is evenly distributed. This will help to prevent the formation of pressure points and maintain proper alignment.

If you are into super easy and inexpensive alternatives to office chairs, I wrote a fantastic article on how and why you should consider these options for back pain, and I encourage you to read it!

Takeaway

It is vital to have good posture and a strong core to avoid pain and injuries. I am living proof that it is possible to recover from injuries and achieve a healthy posture and pain-free life. It did take time and effort, but it was well worth it in the end. I am confident that you can do the same if willing to work. The first step is to ensure you are sitting correctly all day long. This may seem like a small change, but it can significantly affect your overall health. If you are not sure how to sit correctly, I have put out many resources on the proper way to sit:

Once you start sitting correctly, you will achieve better posture, a stronger core, and pain-free life.

When shopping for a new seat cushion, look for ones with layered foams. This will allow you to get supportive and pressure-relieving properties in one go!
-With the help of its ergonomic contours, you can improve your posture and comfort.
-The seat slope of 8-13 degrees for better muscle engagement will help you sit up straight with good posture and avoid back problems. -Natural latex foam is an environmentally friendly option that helps promote blood circulation while being durable and comfortable.
-The best seat covers are 4D and stretchy with a non-slip bottom cover to keep them in place on your chair or car seat.

I have also written extensively on sleeping in alignment; you can view it HERE.

 

 

 

Sources:

  1. Sucheta, S. and Promila, S., Good Ergonomic Setup for Healthy Posture at Work.
  2. Hibbs, A.E., Thompson, K.G., French, D., Wrigley, A. and Spears, I., 2008. Optimizing performance by improving core stability and core strength. Sports medicine38(12), pp.995-1008.
  3. Roslim, R., Rubaizah, M.F., Shamsul, K., Mok, K.L. and Hashim, M.A., 2017. Novel natural rubber latex memory foam. J Eng Appl Sci12, pp.5560-5565.
  4. Suzuki, Y., Sugano, T. and Kato, T., 2020. An ergonomic study of dynamic seating. In Hard Facts about Soft Machines: (pp. 347-373). CRC Press.
  5. Pillastrini, P., Mugnai, R., Bertozzi, L., Costi, S., Curti, S., Guccione, A., Mattioli, S. and Violante, F.S., 2010. Effectiveness of an ergonomic intervention on work-related posture and low back pain in video display terminal operators: a 3 year cross-over trial. Applied ergonomics41(3), pp.436-443.
  6. Woods, L., Why Hamstrings Hurt When Sitting.
  7. Klotter, J., 2005. Ergonomics and pain. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, (258), pp.28-29.

 

 

**As a service to our readers, Axial Chairs provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of the last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.
Tags:
Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Founder

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort.

With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience in Ireland as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sitting for living a happy and healthy life.

I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

 

Dr Lawrence Woods

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort. With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sleep for living a happy and healthy life. I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

You May Also Like

Share This