Best Seat Cushion for Low Back Pain

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Best Seat Cushion for Low Back Pain

The question of what kind of cushions are best for lower back pain comes up nearly every day in my practice and I want to offer you some advice that might help prevent exacerbation so it doesn’t come up as often again! 

As a general rule, the best seat cushion for low back pain because it provides support when sitting in a chair all day. Seat cushions also reduce pressure on your spine and provide relief from back pain, especially if you use one to distribute this weight evenly between vertebrae.

A seat cushion for back pain can be one of several types depending on your preference. The most common is the memory foam cushion, which can be seen on just about every website for seat cushions. The only difference is the outer cover of the cushion.

The internet is a big place with tons of information, but it doesn’t cover everything! I have spent thirty years treating patients with lower back pain and want to pass on what you can do to prevent or reduce this problem. I often advise my patients to sit down when they find themselves in difficult positions. The advice I give them most of the time can be found in this article.

Seat Cushions for Back Pain: Five Essential Items to Consider 

Best Foam for Seat Cushion for Back Pain:

gel seat cushion with red cross on top of it

Gel CushionsThese gel cushions are made with polymer to form flat or contoured pieces of material. They don’t have the same flow characteristics as liquid gels or move in any way, so their plastic container will not become damaged if ruptured.

Gel slabs that are commonly sold today do not flow like liquid gels and provide little shock absorption and pressure reduction.

A number of varieties of Gel cushions were tested on hundreds of our patients, and we found that they provided little pressure point relief and comfort. In fact, clients rated them the least comfortable (-90%) of any of our prototypes. 

  Memory Foam Seat Cushions.  This shock-absorbent material was originally developed for astronaut protection during space missions. It is used in helmets, padding, and other human protection gear. However, NASA later decided against using it because of off-gassing concerns.

Why Memory Foam Shouldn’t Be Used as a Seat Cushion:memory foam seat cushion with red cross on top of it

  • Insufficient Responsiveness.  You will experience less back pain if you use a cushion that is responsive. Responsiveness is the speed and degree to which a foam responds to pressure or motion. 
  • Retains Heat. The higher heat retention of memory foam makes some users uncomfortable while seated.
  • Petrochemical!  Memory foam is a polyurethane, which is produced during crude oil refining, is used in memory foam.
  • More Toxic Chemicals. Among the harmful compounds commonly included in memory foam are polyurethane, formaldehyde, antimony trioxide, PVC, and petrochemicals.
  • There Are a Lot of Fire Retardants. The regulations regarding mattresses have been tightened since 2004, and the toxicity of memory foam mattresses has grown, making them more hazardous.

Natural Latex Foam.  After a comprehensive review of different seating materials and products, natural latex was found to provide the best results.  Here’s why :

natural latex seat wedge with green check icon

  • Natural Latex is Better for Spinal Alignment.  On the cushion, the heavier parts of your bottom sink into the latex, while the lighter parts are kept aligned in a natural way. Natural latex seat cushions allow your muscles and ligaments to relax and recover while improving your blood circulation due to their pressure distribution.  
  • It’s Non-Toxic.  As opposed to memory foam cushions, 100% natural latex seats are made from natural materials and contain no chemicals. 
  • Also Eco-Friendly.  Sustainable latex farming harvests sap from healthy Hevea Brasiliensis trees, while newly planted trees replenish the older trees as they age.
  • Customisable.  Natural latex has given me the freedom to design so many custom products, which is why the field of chiropractic and ergonomics has always been my passion.  
  • Excellent Air Circulation.  Natural latex foam provides better comfort than most conventional memory foam (petrochemical-based).
  • Natural Latex is Entirely Biodegradable and Recyclable.  In addition, natural latex cushions decompose in a year when buried.  
  • Pressure ReliefFurthermore, natural latex can align your spine and alleviate pressure points.
  • Resilient.  Typical natural latex seat cushions prevent you from sinking into them too much after a certain point and rebound as you apply your body weight. This is what makes natural latex so unique. 
  • Anti-Microbial.  Latex is naturally resistant to bacteria, mould, and dust mites, so it prevents the growth of these organisms. It provides a healthy working environment by providing an antifungal and antibacterial environment. 
  • Small Downside is It May Have a Higher Price Since There are No Chemicals.  The latex mattress you sleep on costs about as much as petrochemical foams, but is worth every cent! All latex mattresses are made from rubber trees!

Best Design for Seat Cushion for Back Pain:

memory foam seat cushion with gel cooling cushion There is a relatively simple seating cushion design that has become the most popular but wrapped in fancy marketing jargon and a new look.

Some seat cushions are better for your back than others. If you want a comfortable seat cushion design, you should consider the following factors:

  • As you sit, the first place the cushion touches you is between your legs, where all those bony prominences reside. All successful cushions, including those that reduce pressure points, redistribute pressure away from sharp areas in the pelvis, so we feel less low back pain when sitting! 
  • A seat cushion will change shape when you sit on it. For example, the softer the foam, the more likely it is to compress and “bottom out”.
  • To provide support and pressure distribution for your seat cushion, choose multi-density foams. A firm base should surround a soft-top comfort layer.
  • Moulded cushions conform to the shape of the body when seated. These cushions provide adequate support to the bony prominences and should slope the hips towards the knees to increase the trunk-to-thigh ratio.
  • The seat cushion should be designed to support your spine while engaging your core. This may sound counterintuitive, but you’ll be more comfortable when your weight is dispersed into your core and not your spine (as seen below). Our patients always give us very positive feedback after making this particular adjustment to their seat cushions!

before and after seat wedge

Frequently asked questions about back support cushions include the following:

Is Gel or Memory Foam Better for Seat Cushion?

I have investigated both types of foam extensively with my patients, and I am uncomfortable prescribing either one.  Gel or memory foams lack proper resiliency, they are typically unsupportive, and toxic!

What Is the Best Cushion for Back Pain?

Will a Seat Cushion Help with Back Pain?

The main benefit of a seat cushion is that it can reduce spinal compression, which can help with back pain relief.

How Long Will Memory Foam Cushions Last?

It is estimated that memory foam seat cushions have a lifespan of 2.5 years, more than down alternative pillows, but less than latex seat cushions. Even the best memory foam seat cushions do not last forever.

What is the Best Seat Cushion for Sciatica?

I get this question every day at our clinic. The following points need to be kept in mind when sitting with sciatica:

  • Seat height. Get your seat up as high as feasible.
  • Foot placement. Make sure both feet are on the ground with legs at least shoulder-width apart.
  • Use lumbar support.  You can use a small cushion or a rolled towel for lumbar support if your chair does not have one.
  • Forward tilt.  Your seat wedge should have a forward tilt with the thicker end towards the back of the chair.
  • Seat width.  Slide your seat until it is 2-3 cm away from the edge of your chair. The more surface area you sit on, the better you will feel. Replace your office chair if it does not possess this feature. It can reduce your sciatica pain the most.

 

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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.

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