NBC News wrote an article with a title we'll never forget: "Your body's big enemy? You're sitting on it."
The subheading: "Most of us spend our days on our behinds - and it's killing us."
Sitting is, seemingly, the most benign position in the world. We're not at risk of falling off a cliff, straining the heart, or breaking any bones, right?
While some of that may be true, we're actually putting a lot of strain on our body if we're not using lumbar support for car seats, office chairs, and couches. In a moment, we're about to discuss the natural curve of the spine.
It creates an S-shape, which means if that's not maintained, a lot of weight is going to fall on our lumbar or lower spine and potentially cause damage. Seat backs are often straight, which doesn't mold to an S-curve at all.
But fear not. There are many ways to mold our seats to our back for maximum comfort and protection. Let's start with a brief study on the spine, consider its related muscle groups, and create a targeted approach to lumbar support.
Bolster the Natural Curve of the Spine
The best way to look at lumbar support is to consider the natural S-shape of the spine. We want to preserve this shape in all we do. There are three sections to this curve:
- The cervical curve (which includes the neck)
- The thoracic curve (which includes the broadest part of our back)
- The lumbar curve (which includes the lower portion of the back)
The cervical curve has a slight inward curve; the thoracic curve has a slight outward curve; the lumbar curve has a slight inward curve again. This demonstrates the beauty of creation because this S-shape happens for a reason.
Each curve works like a coiled spring. It helps to absorb any shock incurred by the spine, maintains proper balance as we move, and allows for a full range of motion in the spinal column.
Support Helpful Muscle Groups
When we think of the word column, we almost always consider a straight line, don't we? But as we know, the gentle S-shape of our spinal column makes our fluid movements possible.
There are also two groups of muscles attached to our spine that contribute to this movement:
Flexors are on the front of the spine. They allow us to bend forward and, since the lumbar spine curves inward, they work with this portion of the spine. Flexors support it and contribute to its range of motion.
Extensors are on the back of the spine. They allow us to stand up straight and support us as we lift objects upward. So the spine works like a coiled spring, but we can consider these muscle groups to be the wires that tie it all together.
Target Lumbar Support
So if the goal is good lumbar support, then we must maintain the integrity of that inward curve, or the bottom of the S-curve. If you think about it, the lower spine supports a tremendous amount of weight. So the more we can bolster it, the better.
One of the worst things we can do is lean forward when we drive. This creates a slouching effect and drops all of our upper body weight on the discs in the lower portion of our back.
If there was absolutely nothing else around, simply placing a towel at the curve of our lower spine would alleviate some of the weight on our lower back. But, of course, there are better products out there today that are a little more form-fitting. So let's take a look at some of your options.
Choosing the Right Lumbar Support
There are a couple of wonderful ways to set up your car seat. You might work with a back cushion, a seat cushion, or both. Let's start by looking at the benefits of a back cushion.
Lumbar Support Back Cushion
If you think about it, a straight-backed chair for an S-curved spine just doesn't work. Most car manufacturers try to keep this in mind, but it's never quite what it needs to be.
So a lumbar support back cushion is going to push up against, or support, the lower thoracic curve and lumbar curve of the spine, right where it starts to curve. This will correct our posture and cause the lower back to let out a deep sigh of relief.
There are a number of things to look out for when choosing the right pillow. Here are some of the essentials you want to see:
- Gel-infused memory foam that will form to your body for optimal comfort
- Ventilation holes to prevent an excess of heat
- Two adjustable straps to secure it higher or lower on the seat
- Hypoallergenic material to prevent dust, mold, dander, and mites
- A machine-washable cover to wash away sweat, body oils, etc.
Memory Foam Wedge Cushion
Remember the primary goal of lumbar support: to bolster the lower spine. A seat cushion with a wedge shape can alleviate some of the weight and pressure that's put on the lower spine.
Also, the S-shape of the spine is meant to absorb shock. A car seat cushion can aid in this endeavor by helping to relieve the pressure put upon the lower spine, coccyx, and tailbone.
The best lumbar pillow for cars will have a U-shape cutout. If you face the U-shape toward the back of the seat and sit on it, it's going to leave the coccyx and tailbone unencumbered, placing the weight upon our buttocks and decreasing lumbar flattening.
All this contributes to lower back support. But again, the design details are important. Here's what to look for:
- Memory foam
- Heat responsiveness to shape and contour the memory foam
- A non-slip cover that won't cause the wedge to pop out from under you
- A travel strap to move between seats
Back Cushion Lumbar Support Pillow
So far, we've explored two gel-infused options. We like these options because they aid in the shaping of the pillow and can keep the area cool.
But that's not an essential requirement. The number one requirement is an ability to maintain the integrity of the S-shape of the spine.
So you can also look for support pillows that simply feature memory foam. This will still contour to the body and aid in the expulsion of body heat.
Once it molds to your shape, you'll enjoy added comfort and support. If you ever feel yourself hunching over the steering wheel, it's time to lean back into your pillow.
Coccyx Seat Cushion
Now, a wedge cushion is going to be an ideal lumbar pillow for car support. But you can also consider a flat seat cushion, as long as it maintains that specialized U-shape. Some designs also cushion around the legs, helping to prevent hip pain and sciatica nerve damage.
This sort of seat cushion, when combined with a lower back support cushion, will position the body in its desired shape, alleviating a lot of the stress we create through poor posture. It'll also evenly distribute the weight on our lower body.
Foot Rest Pillow
Of course, this option only works if you're the passenger in a car for lengthy periods of time. Car passengers face the same detriments: lower back pain, leg and hip pain, and possible sciatica damage.
Elevating the feet alleviates some of that pull-down pressure caused by sitting for lengthy periods of time. It also tips the toes upward, aiding in circulation. When looking for a footrest pillow, there's one design element that trumps all the rest: a teardrop shape.
With a teardrop design, your footrest can also be placed under your knees when you lie down to maintain proper posture while you're asleep. Additionally, it can be used like that last-resort towel we mentioned earlier.
In a pinch, it can butt up against your lower back and relieve some of the weight being placed on your lumbar spine. So having a footrest that can triple up to serve three positions is a win-win-win.
Getting in and Out of the Car
Of course, car seat lumbar support is essential. Since we'll be spending more time sitting than getting in and out, it's important to take our posture into consideration as we're driving.
But what about the act of getting in and out of the car? When done properly, this too will prevent any strain to the gentle curve of the spine and help to maintain its proper range of motion.
Getting in the Car
This may look a bit like an elderly person, but there's a reason they move the way they move. They're trying to avoid added strain to their spine. Here's how to protect yourself while getting into the car, no matter its perception by others.
First, back your legs up to the car until you feel the seat behind your legs. Then, place one hand on the back of the seat and one hand on the dashboard - each for support.
Start to lower down to the seat while still facing outward. Then, swing one leg into the car at a time. Finally, move your hips back until they're fully in place on the seat.
Getting Out of the Car
When it's time to get out, you might consider a new approach here too. First, make use of the fact that we can push our seats all the way back as we get in and out. If you push the seat all the way back, it will give you a nice bout of leg clearance.
Then, it's time to replicate the above steps in reverse order. Swing each leg out, one at a time, as you direct your hips and shoulders toward the outside of the car. This prevents unnecessary twisting of the spine.
Then, place your hands in the same position as before: one on the dashboard and one on the back of the seat. It's important to make sure you push yourself out of the car, instead of pulling yourself up and out. This works the extensors, which were made for just this sort of action.
Lumbar Support for Car Seats
If you spend a lot of time commuting, then you can see how lumbar support for car seats is important. Whether you're the driver or the passenger, we want to distance ourselves from hunching forward as much as possible.
The goal will always be to bolster the portion of the spine that curves inward and we can do that with just the right pillow, cushion, and footrest. Indeed, the body was not made to be seated before a screen for all hours of the day, but for many of us, it's simply unavoidable if we'd like to make a living.
So as you commute to the office, sit in your chair, or enjoy some family time in front of the TV, we hope you'll come on over and check out our extensive line of memory foam cushions.
Here at Everlasting Comfort, we want to help you find relief for your back pain and reduce any neck, hip, knee, or foot pain. After all, we don't just want to position ourselves for success when it comes to work.
We also want to position ourselves for success when it comes to our overall health and well-being. For less than $30, we can help you get there. Come see for yourself with our extensive line of best selling products today.