Lumbar pillows provide much needed support to a vulnerable part of the spine. If you experience discomfort in your lower back, a lumbar pillow might be the perfect solution for you. Lumbar pillows come in a variety of different sizes and styles, and can be used in several different ways. If you’re researching lumbar pillows to find the perfect fit for back support, it helps to consider your needs from all angles.
People who spend long periods in office chairs often experience lower back pain. That soreness doesn’t go away the moment they stand up. Lumbar pain is something that needs to be carefully managed and prevented. There are a multitude of ways to go about mitigating or eliminating lumbar discomfort, and the right lumbar support cushion might be an important part of that strategy.
What Is The Lumbar Spine?
The lumbar spine is a section of five vertebrae in your lower back, each separated by a small disk to pad the bone and absorb the normal shock that comes with movement, like reverberations when running or jogging. This piece of your spine connects your tailbone to the area of your spine just below your ribs.
The lumbar spine is responsible for many crucial roles in keeping your body moving. The lumbar spine’s vertebrae are the largest in the body. They help to move and control the trunk of the body and the legs. When you turn your body from side to side, this movement originates in the lumbar spine.
You might notice that when your lumbar spine aches, your legs sometimes hurt or fall asleep in conjunction with the onset of that ache. The nerves that pass down through the lumbar system tell your body how you’d like your legs to operate, sending the command down from your brain. The two systems are heavily connected, and they rely on each other for constant support.
How Does The Lumbar Spine Become Injured?
Everything you do puts your lumbar spine to work. This vital part of your body is often overutilized. It works just as hard when you’re relaxing as it does when you’re running a marathon. Any wrong movement, accident, or prolonged instance of overuse can injure or weaken the lumbar spine and mess with the natural curve, and certain body types are even more at risk than others.
Lifting heavy objects, weightlifting without proper shoes or form, automobile accidents, workplace injuries, an uncomfortable sleeping position, or sitting without good posture for prolonged periods of time are some of the most common triggers for low back pain. Serious issues can include sciatica and even herniated discs.
It’s a part of the body we don’t often think to take care of until after it has become injured. By then, it isn’t necessarily too late, but the healing process for a bad back can be uncomfortable. Providing prophylactic support to the lumbar spine can prevent this discomfort. If you’ve ever injured your lumbar spine or experienced discomfort in the region, you already know you’re prone to this discomfort.
Whether or not pain actively exists shouldn’t be a factor in determining a strategy to properly support the lumbar spine. You likely need better support, even if you aren’t yet experiencing discomfort in the area.
What Is A Lumbar Pillow?
A lumbar support pillow is a cushion with a special contoured design. It comes out in an arch, and the sides are high. The back support pillow is designed to hold the lumbar spine in its most natural position while the user is sitting down against their backrest. It helps people maintain correct sitting posture and takes some of the postural burden off of the lumbar spine, which can often become achy and overtaxed with frequent, prolonged periods of sitting.
How Do Lumbar Pillows Work?
Back cushions are designed to work with chairs. They often have adjustable straps to hold them in the proper position on the chair. They keep a seated person from leaning too far back or coming too far forward. When leaned back, the pillow will provide support where it’s most needed. When you lean forward, you’ll no longer feel the support. This is your cue to adjust your posture so that your body maintains contact with the supportive pillow.
Where To Place A Lumbar Pillow
Lumbar pillows should be placed across the back of a chair or car seat and strapped in place. You should be able to feel that a lumbar pillow is in the correct position when you sit down. The convex curvature of the pillow should fit to the small of the back, providing support to the arch at the lower portion of the spine.
Check your posture to be sure that your lumbar pillow is properly placed so that you're getting the most out of its ergonomic design. When it is, your ears, shoulders, and hips should form a perfect line. This is the postural position you’ll need to maintain in order to avoid putting undue pressure on your lumbar spine.
What To Look For In A Lumbar Pillow
The best lumbar support pillows need to be firm enough to be supportive, but not so firm that they’re providing counterpressure to your back. Memory foam is an ideal material for pain relief from lumbar pillows. It’s soft enough to settle into, but you won’t completely sink into the pillow. It’s the right balance of comfortable and firm to provide your back with much-needed support.
Gel infused memory foam is just a little softer. If you’re looking for maximum comfort, you may prefer the additional cushion that gel memory foam provides.
Since your pillow is going to be against your back all day, it might get a little warm. If you’ve ever sat on a chair or couch made of a material that isn’t very breathable, you might notice that sweat builds up on your lower back. This is an uncomfortable situation, and many memory foam lumbar pillows are designed to avoid it.
Pillows with ventilation holes allow air to pass through. Since the pillow is breathable, it won’t accumulate trapped body heat and cause your back to sweat. You can sit in your work chair for the whole day without unsightly sweat spots building up or feeling uncomfortably warm.
How Many Lumbar Pillows Do I Need?
Ideally, you should have a lumbar pillow for every seat you spend an extended amount of time in. Having one for your desk at work, your desk at home, and your car seat should be enough. You have the option of getting one lumbar pillow and taking it with you everywhere you go, but it might be more convenient to keep lumbar pillows permanently placed where you need them. You won’t ever worry about forgetting to bring your pillow if it’s already where you want it.
Avoiding Back Pain Throughout The Work Day
While a lumbar support pillow is an excellent solution to protect your back and keep you comfortable while you’re sitting down, it’s not a full replacement for proper spinal care. You need to arrange your desk so that your computer naturally sits at eye level. If you’re constantly hunching over to type or see your screen, you’re still straining your spine.
You don’t want to offload the burden from your lumbar spine only to put it on your cervical spine. Your whole desk arrangement should change to help you maintain a better posture. Getting an adjustable rising tray for your laptop can help you maintain proper posture throughout the day.
You may work an eight hour shift, but that doesn’t mean you should be sitting for eight hours. Make sure you get up frequently throughout the day to stretch your back and move around. Get up and walk over to a coworker to deliver a message, rather than sending it by email. Take a walk on your lunch break. It may be less convenient to get up and move, but it’s certainly healthier for you to take every opportunity you can to get up out of your seat.
Avoiding Back Pain In Your Everyday Life
You should be regularly stretching your muscles—not just your back muscles, but all of your muscles. Your muscles work in synergy with each other, and they need to be equally utilized to keep your body healthy.
Exercises like light yoga can help to keep the muscles long, limber, and full of oxygen-rich blood. This can help to prevent strains and spasms. Even if you can only take twenty minutes three times a week to tend to your muscles, it’s far better than doing nothing at all.
People who sit all day for work sometimes utilize massage therapy to keep their muscles healthy. Consider scheduling back massages on a biweekly basis to prevent or manage lower lumbar pain naturally. Since massages are non-invasive and don’t involve any medication, your doctor will likely approve of your choice to add massage therapy to your pain management regimen.
If your back pain becomes really bad, it may be worth looking into professional help, whether that's a chiropractor or a physical therapist.
A lumbar pillow is a wonderful solution to a common problem. Unfortunately, many people don’t think about it until it’s too late. The sooner you start using a lumbar pillow, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Even if your back doesn’t hurt you now, the signs of wear and tear might appear in a few years. Start taking care of your back before you find yourself in pain.