Are Wedge Cushions Good For Back Pain?

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Are Wedge Cushions Good For Back Pain?

Sitting in an office chair all day makes your spine hurt. So if you want to avoid a backache, make sure that your seating is really good and support your lower back so that it doesn’t get even worse!

Well-designed wedge cushions are comfortable, supportive of the back, reduce back pain or sciatica, spinal stenosis, tailbone pain, arthritis, and pregnancy.

As a general rule, a wedge cushion is good for back pain as it provides spinal stability and comfort. Seat angles between 8 and 13 degrees are recommended to distribute your weight more evenly and to prevent your spine from being overloaded. 

As a chiropractor with thirty years’ experience designing seat wedges and treating back pain, let me explain why this article will hopefully help you get the help you need if you take the time to read it.  

You will not read anything like this on this topic anywhere else.  Using my research, design and hands-on experience, I will help you find the perfect wedge cushion that can provide pain relief while seated at work or at home. Follow my simple advice in this article to prevent low back discomfort when seated.

The Problem with Back Pain

Back pain is a common condition, but it can be difficult to diagnose. Non-specific back pain is an umbrella term for any type of chronic or repetitive low back discomfort that does not have one specific cause. There are many treatments available, and there are absolutely no definitive studies concluding the most effective way to treat non-specific back problems.

woman seated with back pain

Back pain is tricky to treat because it does not always come from the same place. If there are two patients with different causes of their back pains, then one treatment may be very effective for one patient but might be useless for another. 

There are many different types of back pain, so it’s important to find out what the specific problem is before you start any exercise program or seek treatment. So, the best way someone can treat their own back pain depends on its cause – which may not even be clear yet.  So what should you do?  

Let’s pretend that your back pain is originating from a painful disc in your low back.  You attend a class after work where one of the exercises is a stretch where you bend forward (flexion).   If you exercise this way, your symptoms will likely get worse – or at least get worse over time. 

Sitting can aggravate the same process. During this experience, the lower spine will flex due to being seated in this position. Sometimes, people with this particular disc issue will be advised to pull their knees into them to gain relief. As a result, many extensor muscles feel temporary relief for 15 minutes, but this may also cause serious damage in the long run.

By continuing the knees-to-chest stretches, the individual will become accustomed to a perpetual pattern. For these people, frequent posture changes and even fast walking can temporarily relieve their pain, but prolonged periods of flexion (sitting) cannot be tolerated. 

Sitting posture can be assisted with wedge cushions to prevent lumbar flexion. High-end seat wedges are designed to combat the cumulative stresses from sitting by stabilizing your hips. Let me explain why.

Spinal Bending vs Hip Hinging

Sitting on wedges or wedge cushions are specially shaped, foam cushions that can be used to make your office chair more comfortable. The slight downward slope of the cushion helps you sit up straighter and alleviates aches in the back. When seated in this position, you will be bending from the hips and not from your spine.

thespinery.com seat foundation

There Are Many Benefits of a Sitting Wedge:

  • All in the hips! – It will move your pelvis forward so that your hips do the work instead of your back! 
  • Better Posture – Position yourself upright to improve core stability, 
  • Pain relief – Provides comfort for prolonged sitting.
  • Sciatica – Helps sciatic pain
  • Tailbone discomfort – for the relief of coccyx injury pain

How Do You Use A Wedge Cushion?

It is as simple as back sitting on it, and then pushing yourself up! The thicker part should be located at the back of your chair. You will be able to keep your back upright using the wedge. The wedges aren’t good for soft seating, such as couches or armchairs.

How to Choose a Wedge Cushion for Back Pain

The use of a sitting wedge will result in better alignment between your torso and upper legs. Additionally, cushions are designed to pull your spine inward and tilt your pelvis forward. You’ll decrease spinal stress, feel more stable, and be able to sit upright without putting much stress on your joints, discs, or ligaments.

man sitting on a natural latex seat cushion for back pain

Depending on how you sit, a seat angle of between 8 and 13 degrees is recommended. The first time you sit in this manner, it may be helpful to sit for a short time at first. Then, as your back muscles strengthen, you can gradually increase the duration of the time you spend on the seat. 

In your instance, the seating wedge relieved the coccyx from its problematic load, thereby relieving pressure on the area. Sitting like that will allow you to sit without feeling uncomfortable.

Best Recommendations for a Sitting Wedge

Layers of foam

Seat cushions usually have a layer of supportive material and a layer of pressure-relieving material so that they can provide both support and pressure relief

Shape

Wedge cushions have ergonomically designed contours that help you improve your posture while you sit. 

Slope

The ideal slope for a seat wedge is anywhere between 8-13 degrees.

Base layer

High-quality foam foundation (plus 96 kg/m3)

Top layer

Comfort layer at the top (56-68 kg/m3)

Foam type

In terms of comfort, resilience, and alignment, Natural Latex is the ultimate choice of foam type.

Good cover

4D, stretchy and non-slip.

Avoid memory foams

They aren’t ideal for back issues, so I don’t recommend them. Memory foams have no springiness (resiliency); they bottom out; they trap heat; and they are made of toxic materials, in contrast to natural latex, which is derived from tree sap.

memory foam seat cushion with gel cooling cushion

 Takeaway

If you want to avoid back pain, make sure your seating is ergonomic and supportive for the lower spine. Well-designed posture wedge cushions are comfortable, support the back, reduce back pain or sciatica, spinal stenosis, tailbone pain, arthritis as well as pregnancy-related symptoms. For more useful guidance on ergonomics visit our blog!

**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.
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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