Do You Really Need Lumbar Support?

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

You probably think about whether or not you actually need lumbar support when you think of good posture. But what if I told you that wasn’t the only thing to worry about? Poor lumbar support can lead to back pain and other health problems. So do you need lumbar support? Keep reading to find out!

As a general rule, the use of lumbar support helps to promote good posture by supporting the natural inward curve of the spine. Using a lumbar pillow also helps prevent slouching and protects your body’s lower back from loading pressure.

I’m confident I can guide you to the right lumbar cushion to provide comfort and support.  I understand the biomechanics of the human body and how posture affects skeletal alignment, muscle tension, and overall comfort. I also know how to assess an individual’s needs and recommend the best solutions for addressing their specific concerns. Whether you are looking for ways to improve your posture at work or you need help finding relief from a chronic pain condition, I can offer you expert guidance and support.

Here’s why I can help:

Dr Lawrence Woods DC

What Is Lumbar Support and How Does It Work?

A lot of strain is put on the lower back when someone slouches or leans forward while seated. This posture puts the lower back in an outward curve rather than the natural inward curve. This can cause strain on the various structures within the lower back. Typically, when a person is sitting in a slouched position, there is a lot of emphasis and strain on the lower vertebra (L5 and S1). Developing a non-neutral position is where the lumbar support comes in to help. Lumbar support helps remove the strain off the lower back by providing additional support.

Is Lumbar Support Really Necessary?

Bad posture is a common cause of back pain, and lumbar support can help to improve your posture and reduce pain. Your muscles and spine are correctly aligned when you sit or stand with good posture. This alignment reduces the tension in your lower back and allows your muscles to work more efficiently. Lumbar support helps to maintain this alignment, preventing you from slouching or hunching over. As a result, you will experience less back pain and improved spinal health. In addition, good posture makes you look taller and more confident. Whether sitting at a desk all day or participating in strenuous activity, lumbar support can help you stay comfortable and pain-free.

When you think of good posture, you probably think about keeping your spine straight. But what if I told you that wasn’t the only thing to worry about? Poor lumbar support can lead to back pain and other health problems. So do you need lumbar support? Keep reading to find out!

Can You Have Too Much Lumbar Support?

I believe the answer is yes. However, having too much lumbar support can lead to hyperlordosis, a condition in which the spine curves excessively. This can cause fatigue and back pain. Additionally, if the support is too high, it will cause you to lean forward and slouch, leading to increased pressure on your low back. If it’s too low, it will force you to hyper-extend your back, resulting in pain. The goal is to keep the spine’s natural curvature by positioning the adjustable lumbar support just above the belt line. Doing so can help prevent strain on the lower back and ensure optimal spinal health.

As someone who has treated back pain sufferers for almost three decades, I know how important it is to find lumbar support that works. I’ve tried many different supports over the years, most of which have been disappointments. I was excited to design my lumbar cushion (above) using natural foam. This material is exceptionally breathable and stays cool even on hot days. The two straps keep the support firmly in place, and the resiliency and responsiveness are suitable for all-day comfort and support. I’m pleased with how this cushion turned out, and I hope you’ll find it as helpful as I!

Which Lumbar Support Is Best?

  • A lumbar depth between 2.0″ and 4″ will work for most people.
  • Women often have an increased curvature of the lower back (lordosis), so they should have more pronounced back support. 
  • Lumbar support aiming higher up in the back is generally preferred by those with a higher BMI (Body Mass Index).
  • Natural latex is the best foam for comfort, support, and breathability.
  • Must have two straps to keep the lumbar pillow in place.
  • The cover needs to be breathable and easy to wash.

What is the Best Seat Cushion?

seat cushion for better posture

I have been a chiropractor for almost 30 years, and during that time, I have seen countless patients suffering from back pain. I have tried many seat cushions but never found one perfect for my patients. I wanted something that would provide support and comfort but also be able to help with spinal alignment. After doing some research, I decided to design my seat cushion and test it out on my patients suffering from back pain.  After many attempts using various materials and designs, I ultimately created a seat cushion that worked like a charm, and my patients loved it!

thespinery.com seat cushion

In my design process, I found that natural latex is more supportive than memory foam or polyurethane foams, and it has a higher density that helps to keep the spine in alignment. I also wanted the cushion to have a 4-way stretch vegan leather to be comfortable and durable. After months of testing different prototypes, I finally designed a seat cushion (in the two pictures above) that met all of my criteria. The cushion has helped many of my patients find relief from back pain, and I am confident that it can help you too.

I explain the concept of my design on a TV show HERE!

Is It Better to Sit on a Soft Surface?

I have found that when it comes to sitting, there are pros and cons to hard and soft surfaces. A hard chair, for example, can be uncomfortable and cause you to fidget or shift around to find a comfortable position. This can lead to muscle tension and fatigue. Soft chairs, however, can pose the same problem due to their lack of support.

While it may offer initial comfort, it can quickly become uncomfortable as your body sinks into the cushions (as experienced with many memory foam seat cushions). Additionally, sitting on a soft surface can cause posture issues. Because you will sink into the chair, it can be challenging to sit up straight. This can lead to back and neck pain over time. 

not able to sit straight

Ultimately, the best type of cushion depends on your individual preferences and needs. For example, people suffering from lower back pain may prefer a firmer cushion that supports the spine. On the other hand, people looking for a more comfortable seat may prefer a softer cushion with a plush top layer. I have found that a seat cushion with a firm base and soft natural latex top layer works best for most people. However, it is essential to experiment with different types of cushions to find the one that is most comfortable for you.

Is It Better to Sit Up Straight or Lean Back?

Regarding sitting, it turns out that conventional wisdom may not be the best advice. For years, we have been told that sitting up straight is the key to good posture and a healthy back. However, new research suggests that leaning back may be better for your spine. A UK chiropractic study found that those who sat at a 135-degree angle experienced less back pain than those who sat upright. The researchers believe that sitting upright puts unnecessary strain on the back muscles. The chair supports your weight when you lean back, taking some pressure off your spine. 

Should I Use the Lumbar Support in My Car?

As a general rule, you should use the lumbar support in your car. By evenly distributing the weight of your body, lumbar support can prevent the lower back from becoming cramped and uncomfortable and prevent fatigue.

sitting in car with herniated disc

As a result, lumbar support is essential for anyone who spends a significant amount of time in their car. If your car seat doesn’t have built-in lumbar support, there are a variety of aftermarket products that can be used to achieve the same effect. 

Can Lumbar Support Hurt Your Back?

Most people believe that lumbar support is beneficial for individuals who suffer from back pain. However, there is some debate as to whether lumbar support can aggravate existing back problems. 

Here Is How a Lumbar Pillow Can Hurt Your Back:

  • Placing too high can encourage poor posture, leading people to slouch or hunch over.
  • Lumbar support that is too thick can cause the spine to curve unnatural, which can stress the muscles and ligaments and lead to pain. 
  • If your lumbar cushion is too low, it will force you to hyper-extend your back, resulting in pain. 

Ultimately, whether or not lumbar support is helpful depends on the individual’s specific situation and should be discussed with a chiropractor or physical therapist.

FAQs About Back Support Lumbar Pillows

What Is the Best Curvature for Posture?

lordosis and kyphosis

The spine is naturally curved, which helps distribute weight evenly and absorb shock. However, poor posture can cause the spine to curve abnormally, leading to pain and other health problems (making you look much older!). There are three main types of spinal curvature: lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis. Lordosis is characterized by an inward curve in the lower back, while kyphosis is an outward curve in the upper back. Scoliosis is a sideways curve that can occur anywhere along the spine.

Each type of curvature has its own set of benefits and risks. For instance, lordosis can help to reduce pressure on the discs in the lower back, while kyphosis can improve breathing capacity. Scoliosis may also help to prevent injuries by distributing weight evenly along the length of the spine. Ultimately, there is no single best posture or spinal curvature for everyone. However, it is crucial to maintain a healthy spine by practicing good posture and avoiding activities that put undue stress on the spine.

What Type of Foam Is Best?

is gel foam better than memory foam

As a product designer, I found that natural latex is often considered the best option for several reasons. First, latex is highly durable and will retain its shape over time. It’s also hypoallergenic and resistant to mold and mildew. In addition, latex is a natural material that is biodegradable and recyclable. As a result, it’s a more environmentally-friendly option than synthetic foam cushions. Finally, latex provides excellent support and can help to improve your posture. Natural latex is the way to go if you’re looking for a seat cushion or lumbar support that will provide lasting comfort and support.

How Many Straps Should My Lumbar Pillow Have?

lumbar back support with 2 straps

Your lumbar cushion must have two straps for optimal support.

Should I Use a Lumbar Cushion in My Car?

Lumbar pillows provide support for your lower back, which can help to reduce pain and stiffness during long drives. If your car doesn’t have built-in lumbar support, a pillow is a great way to add it. Though, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a lumbar pillow. First, ensure the pillow is the right size for your car seat. Second, consider the firmness of the pillow. You want something that will provide support without being too hard or too soft. Finally, look for a pillow that is easy to clean. With a little bit of research, you should be able to find the perfect lumbar pillow for your needs.

Will lumbar support cure my back pain?

While a lumbar pillow may relieve back pain, it is essential to remember that it is not a cure. Back pain is usually caused by muscle strain or other soft tissue injuries, and a pillow cannot cure these. However, if used properly, a lumbar pillow may help to alleviate pain and improve your overall quality of life.

Should I use a memory foam cushion?

memory foam posture wedge is bad

Not really. Memory foam, also known as viscoelastic polyurethane foam, was first developed by NASA in the 1970s for use in aircraft seats. Unlike traditional foam cushions, made from petroleum-based products, natural latex foam is derived from plant-based materials. Memory foam is widely touted for its comfort and support properties, but there are some drawbacks to consider before making a purchase. One downside of memory foam is that it does not provide adequate support for people who suffer from back pain.

Memory foam cushions can get quite hot as they do not breathe well. As a result, many people who experience night sweats may find memory foam uncomfortable to sleep on. Finally, memory foam cushions are significantly more expensive than traditional PU foam cushions. Given these drawbacks, it is crucial to weigh the pros and cons of memory foam before making a purchase. I found that memory foam cushions do not provide adequate support, and also, you will sit hot as the substance does not aerate.

Final Words

So, what is the best lumbar support? The answer to that question depends on various factors, including gender, the curvature of the lower back, and BMI. However, in general, a lumbar depth between 2.0″ and 4″ will work well for most people, and women often have increased curvature of the lower back (lordosis), so they should look for more pronounced back support. Those with a higher BMI generally prefer lumbar supports higher up on the back. It’s also vital that any lumbar pillow has two straps to keep it in place and that the cover is breathable and easy to wash.

 

Sources:

  1. Majeske, C. and Buchanan, C., 1984. Quantitative description of two sitting postures: With and without a lumbar support pillow. Physical therapy64(10), pp.1531-1533.
  2. Lurati, A.R., 2020. The Effectiveness of Lumbar Supports. Orthopaedic Nursing39(6), pp.402-407.
  3. Lengsfeld, M., Frank, A., Van Deursen, D.L. and Griss, P., 2000. Lumbar spine curvature during office chair sitting. Medical engineering & physics22(9), pp.665-669.
  4. Van Wyk, B., 2019. The effect of a lumbar support pillow on low back pain in long distance truck drivers in the eThekweni District (Doctoral dissertation, Durban University of Technology).
  5. Woods, L., How Bad Posture Makes You Look Much Older.

 

**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