How Thick Should A Lumbar Support Cushion Be? | A Chiropractor Explains

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How Thick Should A Lumbar Support Cushion Be? 

In this age of digitalization and technology, almost all of our works are computer-based. Because of this, we find ourselves sitting in front of a monitor most of the time in our day. Often, when you are lost in your work, you don’t really think much about your posture. And that leads to very severe back pains. Proper lumbar support is a dire need to avoid the curse of back pains!

As a general rule, a lumbar support cushion should be thick enough to fully stabilize your lumbar spine and rest your back. The best ones are about 4 inches wide in the center, but if they’re any thicker than that then you’ll likely experience pain throughout your lower back instead of comfort. 

In this article, I will dive deeper into why lumbar supports are so essential for the modern workspace and talk about which thickness is best for lumbar supports. I will also explain how you can choose the proper lumbar support for you. So, without further ado, let’s get right to it. 

Why Do You Need A Lumbar Support Cushion? 

If you are suffering from back pains for a really long time, a lumbar support cushion is a must for you. However, whether you have back pain or not, if you work long hours in front of a PC, it is recommended that you buy a lumbar support cushion. 

memory foam lumbar pillow bad

The lumbar region is the lower part of your back. Basically, your spine or the vertebral column has five specific areas; the cervical (neck) region, the thoracic (chest) region, the lumbar (back) region, the sacral (hip) region, and the coccyx. All these regions are different developmentally. 

Actually, all these regions are curved differently. The cervical and lumbar areas are curved inward. On the other hand, the thoracic and sacral regions arch out outwards.  This total curvature is built to support your body weight. 

Truth be told, the spine is the heaviest set of bones in your body. With age, your muscles become sore and stiff. The bones start to decay. Moreover, you realize your body can’t handle as much as it used to when you were younger!

In fact, chronic poor postures can badly affect the weight carrying capacity of your spine. Most importantly, it commonly involves the lumbar region. The inward curvature of the lumbar region makes it more prone to injuries. So, if you have poor sitting or sleeping posture, chances are you will develop a backache faster than your contemporaries. 

Because of the inward bending, there is a gap between the spine and the back in that region. So, naturally, your lower back requires support to hold it firm. If you tend to sit for long in the office, try to use a support cushion to promote your lower back. Any chiropractor would tell you that!

Thickness Of A Lumbar Support Cushion

Suitable lumbar supports should be as thick as 4 inches at the center. The thickness should be optimum. In fact, a needlessly thicker cushion can exacerbate your back pain.

natural latex lumbar pillow

For long office hours, you must use an ergonomic office chair. Ergonomic means it is convenient or comfortable enough for your office work. Furthermore, an ergonomic office chair must have proper lumbar support. 

It would be best if the foam was natural latex!  Natural latex is non-toxic, it breathes, it has great resiliency (springiness), and it is much more comfortable than memory or polyurethane foam.  Natural latex provides the best comfort of any foam from a chiropractor’s perspective!

Besides, it needs to be constructed with good material that can support your weight. It should have sufficient padding. The backrest of the chair must be about 12 to 20 inches wide. 

However, the prime factor here is whether your lumbar region is getting adequate support or not. Foam cushions, about 4 inches thick, provide the best comfort. There are lots of stores that sell lumbar support cushions now. 

If you use a cushion less than four inches thick, the natural curvature of the lumbar region tends to flatten. In fact, not getting enough support can exacerbate lifelong ailments like Ankylosing spondylitis, Lumbar hyperlordosis, etc.

Sometimes, extensive weight bearing can result in prolapse of the intervertebral disc. Getting into even a little bit of pain is horrible, and having severe back pain can make your life miserable. Depending on how bad it gets, you might just have to tolerate the discomfort or deal with excruciatingly painful spasms that shoot through your lower body when they happen.

You may not realize it, but too many thick support cushions can actually make your condition worse. It affects the curvature of your spine and leads to poor posture without you even realizing it until you start suffering from backache and see a doctor about it!

Choosing the best ‘chiropractic recommended’ support cushion can be a big dilemma. You want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth, but with so many options it’s hard even for an expert like me! I recommend choosing one that is at least four inches thick and then picking from there based on comfortability.

Picking The Right Lumbar Support For You

Now, let’s discuss how to understand what kind of lumbar support cushion is good for you. We all have different body builds. So, what suits someone else might not suit you at all! You need to understand your own size.

lumbar canal stenosis

A lumbar support cushion must have the correct dimensions as per your back. The easiest way to make a support cushion on your own is by using a towel. For this purpose, you can take a big towel and roll it like a log. To secure its shape, you can tape it up with scotch tapes. Although, take good care that the thickness at the center of the roll does not exceed 4 inches.

This towel cushion is by far the cheapest way to make lumbar support. Most of us have spare towels lying around. You can adjust the towel against your back where you feel you need the most support. Typically, it should rest against your lower back.

Additionally, chiropractors recommend different types of support cushions in terms of whether they are used preventively or to relieve pain. If your goal is prevention I would suggest the thinner option which will provide less back support while if you’re looking for a little cushioning with added comfort as well as lower back and spinal joint stabilization supports then opt for our thicker ones! For prevention, I recommend a thinner option, which provides less back support, while for added comfort, comfort padding and lower back and spinal joint stabilization, I recommend a thicker option.

This type of cushion can be purchased either online or offline. You can fix them to any chair, car seat, or object using the straps attached to it. Make sure that your lumbar support has 2 sets for increased stability! Back pains are often caused by cars seats and through the use of this kind of cushion reduces incidence by one-third!

Sometimes, a homemade cushion out of a pool noodle can also come in handy. Just cut a portion of a pool noodle in half and use it. In fact, you can also use an entire segment rather than cutting it in halves. Observe which one suits you better. Good lumbar support will relieve your pain rather than aggravating it.

A mesh lumbar support is also available. Using them, you can provide some support to your entire back. Heat is dispersed and the air is allowed to circulate with meshwork. For those looking for minimal support but at a low cost, they are ideal. Additionally, these can be strapped to chairs.

Finally, you must understand that any support cushion you use should not hurt you. If your back is very big, you may need a wider cushion. It may be necessary to select a smaller size if you are a slender person. The cushion must, however, provide adequate relief for your pain.

Conclusion

The thickness of a lumbar support cushion is an important factor for reducing back-related pains. If you are looking to buy one, it’s best that you know the right size and level of firmness before purchasing!  With these tips, hopefully, you will be able to avoid any serious spinal damage caused by long periods of time spent working without proper posture.

 

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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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