When you think of the word “cushion,” where does your mind go automatically?
Maybe a large, tufted pillow on top of a king’s chair. Maybe a comfy part of your favorite couch or the outdoor pillows that are on your patio furniture. Or maybe you think of something that you add to your office chair. You might even think of cushion-cut diamonds, which throw off a rainbow of colors when they're enough carats—but that's a whole other thing.
No matter what cushion you think of, you’re probably right. The truth is, there are many different cushions out there. They each serve their own purpose, but they all have one thing in mind: your comfort.
If you’ve ever had any questions as to what a cushion is, what types of cushions exist, and which one might be right for you, we’re going to answer it all for you really quickly.
Buckle up for your crash course in cushions.
The Word "Cushion"
The word cushion the Latin coxa, and the vulgar Latin coxinus, both for hip. It also takes influence from the Anglo-French cussin. Basically, it's a word with a pretty long history.
What Is the Purpose of a Cushion?
Cushions serve multiple different cushions. The main ones we’re going to be focusing on today are cushions for sitting.
In the instance of these cushions, they are designed to do a few different things. First, they should provide comfort for your body, specifically your backside, spine, and hips.
Secondly, they redistribute your weight in a way that’s healthier for your body than a traditional chair would. They’re designed to keep your behind in a position where you won’t experience any of that tingly feeling that you get when you sit for too long in an uncomfortable chair.
Lastly, they work to help you improve your posture. Some of them remind you to sit up straight, and some of them subtly encourage you to engage your core muscles to keep you upright. Basically, the right cushions can help us lead a healthier lives
Who Needs a Cushion?
Who needs a chair cushion after all?
You may be surprised to learn that most people can benefit from the appropriate seat cushion.
In particular, if you work long hours at a desk, in an office chair, you definitely need a good seat cushion. If you spend a lot of hours driving for your job or for road trips, you should also be using a seat cushion to keep your alignment correct.
If you use a wheelchair, you spend quite a lot of time sitting down. It becomes all the more important to have a comfortable seat cushion when you spend most of your time in a chair.
Materials That Cushions Are Made Out of
Cushions can be made out of a few different things, so it’s important to know what the differences are in these materials to determine which cushion or cushions may be right for you.
When it comes to the outside of the cushion, you can find pretty much fabric and texture, from wool and velvet to sequins for those who want a little extra sparkle. In terms of color schemes, cushions know almost no bounds, either—whether you're looking for layers of neutral tones or a touch of color for your dining chairs, there's something for you out there.
The most popular two options for seat cushion interiors are some type of foam or gel. Here are the benefits and drawbacks of each.
Foam or Memory Foam
The most common type of material that cushions are made out of is some type of foam. This is because foam retains shape and provides contoured support.
Memory foam, in particular, is a popular choice for chair cushions. This is because it holds shape for longer and remembers its shape over time. This means it can form to you and your body, leaving you with customized support.
Another great material that seat cushions are made out of is gel.
Gel makes for great seat cushions since it not only forms to the shape of your body but actively moves with you as you move. It also has cooling properties that are great for those long days that your seat collects heat and leaves you sweaty.
Gel and foam seat cushions combine the best of both worlds in a seat cushion that forms to your body, retains shape, and also provides movement and cooling.
You can definitely find pillows filled with feathers, but when it comes to support, these are going to fall flat—literally. Feather-filled cushions are best for decor purposes only.
Types of Cushions
If you were thinking that there’s only one main type of seat cushion, you’re mistaken. There are quite a few different types of seat cushions, one for every problem or concern that you may have.
Here are a few of the most popular seat cushions to provide support for any area that you need to be supported.
Your coccyx is the official term for what you probably refer to as your “tailbone.”
When we sit for long periods of time, especially if we have poor seated posture, we end up placing a lot of weight and pressure. Your coccyx is very small and not designed to withhold that much weight.
A coccyx seat cushion sits in the bottom of your chair, right underneath your backside. This type of cushion provides extra cushion to your buttocks with an indent or impression at the bottom.
This takes all of the pressure and weight off of your small coccyx and redistributes that weight among the larger surface area behind.
Lumbar Support Cushion
When you hear someone refer to your “lumbar,” they’re referring to your lower back. This part of your back often slouches when you practice poor seated posture.
A lumbar cushion counteracts this. This cushion is usually a sloped or curved shape that comes with adjustable straps so that you can attach it to your office chair or driver's seat.
It provides support along the natural curve of your lumbar spine. It also encourages you to not sit too far back in your seat, straightening your posture and improving your spine health.
When it comes to wheelchair cushions, it’s all about long-lasting comfort and ventilation.
Those in wheelchairs are more prone to infections and aches of our lower halves, making it important that these cushions re-distribute weight in a comfortable, sustainable way.
Find the Right Cushion for You
Whether you try out a lumbar cushion or coccyx cushion, or you’re in need of a wheelchair cushion, a quality seat cushion can keep your posture healthy and your backside comfortable.
Why a Good Chair Cushion Matters: The Science of Sitting | AEC Business
Good Posture in 30 Days: Exercises, Calendar Plan, and More | Healthline
Seat Cushion Selection | va.gov