Do You Need a Memory Foam Seat Cushion? | Chiropractor Warns

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Is a memory foam cushion good for you? Many people seem to think so. In this blog post, we will look at what makes these cushions so popular and whether or not they are worth the investment. Spoiler alert: I believe they are not! Keep reading to find out why.

As a general rule, memory foam cushions are not ideal because they tend to lose shape and become less effective as they age. Memory foam cushions may off-gas, making them unsuitable for those with sensitivities. Additionally,  memory foam cushions are hard to move around in or ‘stuck’ in one position.

If you’re wondering if a memory foam seat cushion is worth the investment, I believe I can help. For over 30 years, I’ve been practicing chiropractic, and during that time, I’ve also trained as an ergonomist. I have a published book on the subject of sitting, spoke on this subject on national tv, and have engineered a number of solutions to help people achieve better posture and comfort while sitting. In addition, I ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the development of my latest project, a set of ergonomic seat cushions. I am confident I can offer some helpful insights about memory foam seat cushions based on my experience and expertise.

Are Memory Foam Cushions Worth It?

memory foam seat cushion

Memory foam cushions are one type that has gained popularity in recent years. But are they really worth the hype? In short, I don’t think so. I found that memory foam is often made from cheap, petrochemical-based materials and may off-gases toxic chemicals.

Additionally, I believe that memory foam is not ideal for people with back pain, as it does not provide the necessary support. Additionally, memory foam seat cushions tend to make people sit hot (even with the ‘so-called ‘cooling gel’), as they do not allow for air circulation. And finally, I found that memory foam cushions are terrible for pressure points, as they do not conform to the body like other cushions. So while memory foam cushions may be soft and cheap, I believe they are not the best option for comfort or health.

Is Memory Foam Pillow Really Better?

I made a video about how to determine which foam is best for you (below):

Why Is Foam a Good Material for a Seat?

natural latex cushion seat cushion

Natural latex foam is often considered to be the best option for those who suffer from back pain. This is because latex foam is highly resilient and springs back into shape after being sat on. As a result, it provides more support than other foam types and helps prevent pressure ulcers.

Natural latex foam is also cooler than other materials (such as memory foam seat cushions), making it ideal for use in hot weather. In addition, latex foam is non-toxic and hypoallergenic, making it a safe choice for those with sensitivities. With so many benefits, it’s no wonder that natural latex foam is the preferred choice for many people suffering from back pain.

Will a Memory Foam Seat Cushion Decrease Pressure on Your Hips, Spine, and Coccyx?

cheap memory foam ergonomic seat cushions

Typical inexpensive memory foam cushions on Alibaba

In my experience, memory foam seat cushions increase pressure on hips, spine, and coccyx as this foam bottoms out. I have found that after sitting on one of these cushions over a short period, the cushion will depress and become concave, increasing the pressure on these areas of my body.

I have found that traditional-style cushions with a firm center and softer outer edges are much better at decreasing pressure on these areas than memory foam cushions. The best choice would be natural latex foam. It is a little more expensive but worth every penny. Therefore, I would not recommend using a memory foam seat cushion if you want to decrease pressure on your hips, spine, or coccyx.

Does a Memory Foam Seat Cushions Improve Circulation?

wrong memory foam for poor circulation

Unfortunately, I believe the answer is no. When memory foam bottoms out, it may increase the pressure on your body, leading to decreased circulation. A natural latex seat cushion may be a better option to improve circulation while sitting. These cushions will support without losing shape and provide the perfect amount of comfort and circulation-boosting elevation.

Can a Memory Foam Seat Inserts Reduce Pain?

memory foam cushion bad for pain

Memory foam seat inserts are often advertised as a way to reduce pain, but I found little scientific evidence to support this claim. Memory foam is soft and conforms to the shape of your body, which may make it more comfortable than a firm seat. However, in my clinical experience, memory foam can lose its shape and become saggy over time. This may cause you to sit out of alignment, exacerbating pain instead of alleviating it. If you are looking for a way to reduce pain, you may be better off choosing a seat insert made of a different material.

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!

Is Memory Foam Hypoallergenic?

 memory foam hypoallergenic

Although memory foam is often advertised as hypoallergenic, it is difficult to find scientific proof to support this claim. Memory foam may contain isocyanates, and chemicals (2-propanol, acetone, chloromethane, toluene, and ΣVOC) that can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin. Exposure to isocyanates can also lead to chest tightness and asthma. While some people may not be sensitive to these chemicals, others may experience allergic reactions. If you are concerned about exposure to chemicals, you may want to choose a different type of foam.

Why are Memory Foam Seat Cushions Affordable?

memory foam seat cushion affordable

I have found that memory foam is cheap and has a short lifespan. Memory foam is typically made from inexpensive petrochemicals. Low-quality memory foam can cause you to lose healthy spinal alignment by sinking into the seat cushion too deep. This happens because memory foam is a low resilience polyurethane, which means the foam doesn’t rebound or push back to help align your body. As a result, you may have back pain or other issues.

Will a Memory Foam Cushions Last for Years?

does memory foam lasts longer

I found that the lifespan of memory foam cushions is typically shorter than that of other types of foam. Memory foam may be susceptible to dips, areas where the foam has compressed beyond its tolerated level. These dips can be caused by excessive pressure on the seat cushion or low-quality foam. There is an industry-standard for dipping of 2-3cm, as there is too much pressure on the foam for its intended use, or in cheaper seat cushions, the quality of the foam is so low it will fail under stress.

What Can I Use Instead of Foam for Cushions?

If you’re looking for an alternative to memory foam for your cushions, consider using an ergonomically designed seat cushion made from natural latex foam. Latex foam offers superior support and comfort while sitting, and it is also highly durable, making it ideal for use in cushions. Latex foam is also naturally resistant to dust mites and mold, making it a healthier option for those with allergies or sensitivities. When choosing a latex seat cushion, be sure to select one that is specifically designed for ergonomic support. This will help ensure you experience the maximum benefit from the cushion.

Ergonomic Seat Cushion

ergonomic seat cushion for better posture

Ergonomic seat wedges (above) are a simple solution for improving posture and preventing slouching. By keeping your spine aligned and targeting your core muscles, the seat wedge can help you achieve better posture overall. Additionally, the seat wedge can help relieve tension in other body areas, such as the shoulders and neck. You can also reduce strain on your hips and knees by improving your overall posture. So if you’re looking for a way to improve your posture and overall health, a seat wedge is a great place to start.

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 Lumbar Support Cushion

ergonomic natural latex lumbar pillow support

Ergonomic lumbar support (above) is essential for people who want to improve their posture and strengthen their core. Sitting up straighter can take pressure off your spine and reduce the risk of pain or injury. Additionally, lumbar support can increase your range of motion and be more productive throughout the day. There are various lumbar supports on the market, so it is crucial to choose one made from natural latex and designed by an expert. With decent lumbar support, you can sit comfortably and confidently, knowing that your back is properly supported.

Conclusion

I believe memory foam cushions are not the best option for those who want a comfortable and supportive cushion. They often lose their shape and become less effective over time, plus they have the potential to off-gas and cause sensitivities in some people. Additionally, they can be hard to move around on or get ‘stuck’ in one position. If you’re looking for a versatile and comfortable cushion, we recommend opting for a hybrid natural latex seat cushion instead!

 

 

 

 

Sources:

  1. Garrido, M.A., Font, R. and Conesa, J.A., 2017. Pollutant emissions from the pyrolysis and combustion of viscoelastic memory foam. Science of The Total Environment577, pp.183-194.
  2. Beckett, E.M., Miller, E., Unice, K., Russman, E. and Pierce, J.S., 2022. Evaluation of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from memory foam mattresses and potential implications for consumer health risk. Chemosphere, p.134945.
  3. Roslim, R., Mok, K.L., Fatimah Rubaizah, M.R., Shamsul, K., Tan, K.S. and Amir Hashim, M.Y., 2018. Novel deproteinised natural rubber latex slow-recovery foam for health care and therapeutic foam product applications. Journal of Rubber Research21(4), pp.277-292.
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/back-pain/symptoms-causes/syc-20369906#:~:text=Back%20pain%20often%20develops%20without,back%20muscles%20and%20spinal%20ligaments.
  5. 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.
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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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