If you suffer from chronic back pain, or have even been recently diagnosed with a musculoskeletal condition such as osteoarthritis or spinal disc degeneration then you may be wondering whether the use of lumbar support helps to alleviate your discomfort. While many people believe that lumbar supports help them find relief, there is actually some doubt over their actual efficacy and they may in fact cause more harm than good. Here I aim to provide my professional opinion on this subject drawing upon medical evidence and first-hand experience caring for those suffering from related conditions.
As a general rule, lumbar supports are meant to alleviate lower back pain, but prolonged use can cause muscle weakness and dependency on the support. This can lead to worsening pain and poor posture, especially if the support is not properly fitted.
As a practitioner with over 30 years of practice, and training as an ergonomist and author on sitting, I’m well-equipped to provide valuable insights. My contributions to this field have been well-received, with TV appearances, my Youtube channel, and a successful Kickstarter campaign for my ergonomic lumbar supports and seat cushions. If you’re searching for answers, I’m confident that I can offer assistance.
The Lumbar Support Debate: Is It Helpful or Harmful to Your Lower Back?
As a chiropractor, I often find myself in the middle of the lumbar support debate. While many people swear by lumbar support for lower back pain relief, others argue that it can actually cause more harm than good. I’m here to tell you that lumbar support can indeed be a double-edged sword. When used correctly, it can provide excellent support and alleviate back pain. However, having it positioned improperly or relying solely on lumbar supports without the use of concurrent strengthening exercises can be ineffective in preventing low back pain, and in some cases, it can also hurt your lower back.
Understanding the Spinal Anatomy: How Lumbar Support Affects Your Spine and Back Health
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If you’re struggling with back pain, I wrote an article on how to manage your pain and why you should do these important steps and I encourage you to read it!
To really grasp the effects of lumbar support, we must first dive into the world of spinal anatomy. The lumbar region of your spine is made up of five vertebrae, and these lower back bones play a vital role in supporting your upper body weight. Lumbar support devices, such as pillows and chair cushions, are designed to maintain the natural curve of your lower spine, thus reducing stress on the surrounding muscles and ligaments. However, poor-quality lumbar support or improper use can force the spine into an unnatural position, potentially leading to back pain and other complications.
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.
Myths and Facts: What Really Causes Back Pain and How to Prevent It
Back pain is a complex issue, and there’s no shortage of myths surrounding its causes and prevention. One common misconception is that lumbar support alone can prevent lower back pain. While lumbar support can certainly help alleviate some discomfort, it’s crucial to address other contributing factors, such as poor posture, weak muscles, and an inactive lifestyle. So, don’t put all your trust in that fancy lumbar pillow; combine it with regular exercise, stretching, and proper ergonomics to truly banish those pesky aches and pains.
Axial Ergonomic Seat Cushion® | Seat Chair Wedge
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Axial Ergonomic Seat Cushion® | Seat Chair Wedge
Choosing the Right Back Support Products: Finding the Best Chair and Yoga Gear for Your Spine
When it comes to selecting the perfect lumbar support, one size does not fit all. Each person’s spine is unique, and finding the right back support products requires some trial and error. Invest in a high-quality, adjustable chair with proper lumbar support, and experiment with various yoga gear, such as blocks and straps, to help maintain spinal alignment during your practice. Remember, the goal is to find support devices that promote a healthy spine and help prevent lower back pain, not cause it.
I was surprised at how cheap the similar seat cushions were on Aliexpress from the listing on Amazon!
Tips for a Healthy Back: Simple Ways to Strengthen Your Lower Back and Improve Posture
Lumbar support is just one piece of the healthy back puzzle. To truly prevent lower back pain and promote overall spinal health, it’s essential to incorporate regular exercise and good posture habits into your daily routine. Engage in core-strengthening activities like Pilates, yoga, or swimming to support your spine, and practice good posture by sitting and standing tall with your shoulders back and your chest open. The journey to a pain-free lower back may be challenging, but trust me, your spine will thank you for it!
Where Should Lumbar Support Be On Your Back
I’ve learned a thing or two about spinal alignment and core strength, and I’m here to share that knowledge with you. From my clinical experience, proper lumbar support should be placed in the small of your back, precisely where the natural curve of your spine (the lumbar lordosis) is present. This position helps maintain a healthy spinal alignment and a balanced and strong core, which are essential for sitting without causing back pain.
I explain the concept of my ergonomic design on a TV show HERE
Why Does Lumbar Support Hurt My Back
Now, you might be wondering why lumbar support sometimes causes more discomfort than relief. The truth is, not all lumbar supports are created equal. In my practice, I’ve found that many people experience pain because their lumbar support is either too firm or not placed correctly, causing increased pressure on the spine and surrounding muscles. This is why I always advise my patients to use an expert-designed ergonomic seat cushion made with a natural latex top and a high-density base layer foam. These materials provide the right balance of support and comfort to help alleviate back pain.
I also want to point out that I never recommend memory foam for lumbar support. In my opinion, it lacks pressure support and resilience, which can lead to discomfort and pain. Additionally, memory foam can sometimes be a toxic material and tends to get hot when you sit on it for long periods, making it unsuitable for prolonged use.
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Axial Designs™ Seat Cushion
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Does Lumbar Support Help Neck Pain
I often get asked if lumbar support can help alleviate neck pain. While lumbar support primarily targets the lower back, it can indirectly benefit your neck as well. Here’s the deal: when your lower back is properly supported, it promotes a healthy spinal alignment throughout your entire spine, including the cervical region (your neck). A well-aligned spine reduces the strain on your neck muscles and helps prevent pain and discomfort. So, while lumbar support might not directly address neck pain, it can contribute to overall spinal health, which in turn helps keep your neck pain-free.
Remember, it’s crucial to find the right lumbar support for your individual needs and ensure it’s correctly placed to maintain a healthy spinal alignment. Feel free to consult with a healthcare professional like myself if you need help finding the best solution for your back and neck pain.
As we have discussed in this blog post, lumbar support does have the potential to help decrease back pain for those who are in need of some sort of additional cushion for their back. However, it’s important to reiterate that each individual person is different and lumbar support may provide relief from discomfort, but that doesn’t mean it will necessarily solve all back problems or be the ideal solution for everyone. Everyone’s bodies are unique, as are their individual needs and pain thresholds.
Therefore, if you are suffering from back pain, your best bet is to figure out what kind of lifestyle changes might be beneficial and then visit a medical professional to discuss all of your options available before investing in any type of lumbar support device. Moreover, there might actually be some cases where no device is needed at all and simply changing certain daily activities might help significantly.
Understanding your own body and its capabilities can make a world of difference when addressing such issues such as chronic back pain. So focus on learning about yourself and finding solutions that work best for you, not just blindly going after devices without consulting anything else first. We hope this has been an informative blog post on the topic of lumbar support causing back pain and we invite you to research more into this topic further so you can make an informed decision about your lifestyle.