5 Aug 2021

How Can I Get Better Lumbar Support?

If you're looking for a remedy to your backaches or are well-versed in the health industry, you would've most likely come across the word “lumbar support”.

With work from home becoming the new norm, we're sitting for longer hours.

Combined with the lack of an ergonomic home office setup, it's no wonder we've started seeking solutions to better support our lower backs, which range from ergonomic office chairs to even corsets.

In this article, we'll analyse 5 of the most common lumbar support tools so that you can make a more informed decision on how to improve your back health and your happiness.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the read!  

Ergonomic Chair 

An ergonomic office chair is designed to be customisable to a user's preferences, which serves to maximise your comfort, productivity, and efficiency when using it in your workplace or at home. 

Pros: 

  • Excellent posture support

    Ergonomic chairs are fully adjustable to suit not only your body, but also the environment you are working in. This ensures that you maintain the correct sitting posture at all times, which is essential for good posture! While some traditional chairs might be able to do the same, they still lack the customisability that an ergonomic chair offers.

    This not only puts undue stress on your spine, but also increases the risk of any unwanted back injuries.

  • Helps with back pain

    A 2018 study by Singapore General Hospital similarly revealed that 73.4% of the 324 respondents reported experiencing pain in at least one of these body parts, which were the neck (46%), shoulder (42%) and low back (42%). This you?

    To relieve tension on your back, an ergonomic chair is designed to support your neck, shoulders, and the natural curve of your back! You can eventually bid farewell to back pains.

  • Reduces neck pain

    Some ergonomic chairs come with a headrest that provides support for your neck and head. With a headrest, you can prevent unforeseen injuries to your neck which consequently leads to neck pain. (Remember, only if it's a good fit for you.)

    Headrests also encourage proper posture, which prevents additional pressure from being applied to your neck! This is vital as this pressure could lead to serious injuries such as spondylosis, which is a type of arthritis spurred by wear and tear to the spine.

  • Relieves hip pressure

    Ergonomic chairs are usually padded and also provide sufficient seat depth so that your hips would be fully supported, which relieves hip pressure.  

  • Improves blood circulation

    The additional customisability that an ergonomic chair brings allows the user to sit with their knees at a 90-degree angle, encouraging proper circulation in the legs. This not only prevents your legs from going numb, but it also helps to circumvent swelling and even deep vein thrombosis, which is a serious condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside your body.
     
  • Boosts productivity

    According to a study conducted by UpJohn Institute in 2003, it was revealed that chair-with-intervention training (i.e the participants were given ergonomic chairs to sit on during work) not only substantially reduced pain, but also greatly boosted their productivity.

    This was because the participants were more comfortable while working, which improved their mood and their attitude towards work!

Cons: 

  • Some chairs are not fully adjustable

    While most office chairs claim to be "ergonomic", they might not be so. These chairs, unfortunately, fall short of customisable features, leading to unsatisfactory purchases as the chair would not be able to fit you perfectly.

    To avoid this, always try your chairs out before purchasing. Or to be on the safe side, opt for chairs that offer a variety of adjustments.

  • Need to follow proper guidelines while seated

    Getting an ergonomic chair is only half the battle won. You'll also need to follow some seating guidelines to ensure that you're in a correct sitting posture and that your back is properly supported!

    For example, you have to ensure that your seat depth is 2 to 3 fingers away from the back of your knees so that you potentially avoid upper body aches.

    Without following these guidelines and reverting to bad posture habits like slouching, the effectiveness of the ergonomic chair would be reduced.  

  • Cost

    Typically, the price of a quality ergonomic chair starts from approximately $1000, which can be quite a hefty amount for some. 

💡 However, the ErgoTune Supreme is a budget friendly ergonomic chair that's on par with other more premium chairs in the market. (So you don't have to spend more than $1000 for on one!) We believe that you shouldn't have to pay an arm and a leg for a good ergonomic chair.

Lumbar Pillow

Usually made of memory foam and fibre, lumbar support pillows are specifically shaped to fill up the natural curvature of your back.

A lumbar support pillow helps to provide relief and management of lower back pains, which can originate from your common sprains. However, they may also come from more serious medical conditions such as ruptured discs or even traumatic injury aggravated by long periods of sitting in one fixed position.

TL;DR: Your lower back pains could be caused by anything and everything. Not fun.

Pros:

  • Cheap

    Most lumbar pillows range from $5 to at most $100, which makes it an affordable choice for those looking to get a band-aid fix for their lumbar support. 
     
  • Convenient

    Most lumbar pillows measure 14 inches by 22 inches, which make it easy for anyone to carry around and place on their chair or even in their car.

Cons: 

  • Flimsy support and hard to adjust

    Most lumbar pillows usually come only with a single strap, which makes it rather difficult to attach securely onto your chair for lumbar support! This could result in misalignments between the pillow and your back as the lumbar support keeps shifting on its own. 

  • Need to find the perfect fit

    Despite the use of memory foam, lumbar support pillows are tricky as you won't be able to adjust the amount of padding inside it. If it's too soft or too hard for you, there's really nothing you can do about it.

    You'll also need to try out different pillows to find the one that's truly the perfect fit for you.
  • Shorter warranty

    Unfortunately, a lumbar pillow’s warranty has an average length of just a few years. This means that you may find yourself constantly buying and changing your pillow if you solely rely on it for additional lumbar support. 

Back Support Brace

A back brace is a device designed to limit the motion of the spine in cases of fracture or in post-operative fusions, as well as a preventative measure against some progressive conditions.

Pros: 

  • Wide range available

    From flexible back braces for a more non-intrusive option of back support, to rigid/semi-rigid options that help reduce muscle tension, there are various types of back support braces that cater to different types of lower back pain!

  • Provides support to the lumbar spine

    The back brace holds the lumbar spine in a safe position, allowing it to recover from and prevent injuries. It also provides the stability needed for injured or weakened spinal structures. 

  • Helps to alleviate pressure from the spine

    Back pain can arise from muscle tension, which originates from the weight normally placed on the lower back. The back brace helps to unload some of this weight, alleviating pressure from the spine and relieves back pain!

  • Limits range of motion during recovery

    If you're in the midst of recovering from an injury or operation, you'll be able to have a smoother recovery process as a back brace limits painful movements such as bending backwards, forwards, or twisting sideways.

    Limiting such movements also helps you to be more aware of your posture!

Cons: 

  • Doesn't solve all types of lower back pain

    A back brace is never a substitute for pain medication or physical therapy! Sometimes, back braces can even exacerbate back pain if not diagnosed properly.
     
  • Meant for short term relief

     Wearing a brace longer than recommended leads to over-reliance on it, which weakens the back and increases its tendency of being injured.

  • Back braces for pain relief is still a controversial topic

    Using back braces for pain relief is still up in the air for discussion. There are still ongoing concerns around the negative side effects of wearing one, as well as which specific cases is a back brace actually the best treatment option.

Towel

Used to mimic a lumbar roll (a type of lumbar cushion), it helps to support the natural forward curve of your lumbar spine, which is also known as a lordosis.

Pros: 

  • Convenient

    A common object found in every household, a towel is readily accessible to anyone and everyone. 

  • Cheap

    For just a few dollars, you would be able to purchase a towel for yourself and roll it up to use as a lumbar roll, along with the other materials required. 
  • Can be a quick fix

    If you are at home and your back is aching immensely due to sitting for long hours, using a towel as a makeshift lumbar support could be a quick fix. 

Cons: 

  • Not a proper fix

    Using a towel as a makeshift lumbar support for a quick fix is completely fine. However, if you suffer from long term lower back pains, you should get a proper lumbar support.

    After all, if towels could solve all back pains, then ergonomic chairs wouldn't need to be so expensive, right?

  • Not the most adjustable

    To make your own lumbar roll with the towel, all you need to do is roll it up. But how big should your towel roll be? How should you fix it on your chair so that it stays snug in your back's curve?

    Until you can figure these out for yourself (since everyone's body is different), it's going to be quite difficult to find the right fit for your lumbar support.

Ergonomic mattress

Besides spending the bulk of the day sitting, you also spend a lot of time asleep. About 1/3rd of your day is spent sleeping on your bed, and a mattress that gives you proper support for your back is important!

Of course, not just any ordinary mattress will do. An ergonomic mattress gives you the lumbar support that your back needs while you sleep.

Pros:

  • Reduces back pains

    With an ergonomic mattress, your spine will be properly aligned while maintaining good posture while you sleep! It also relieves the tension on the muscles and joints in your back.

    An ergonomic mattress with the right amount of firmness gives you the proper support you need, so that you'll be fresh, energised, and free of any back pains the next day.

  • Encourages good posture

    It also helps to support the natural contour and alignment of your spine, which is important in maintaining good posture!

Cons:

  • Hard to find the perfect fit

    Just because you've decided to get an ergonomic mattress, doesn't mean that you'll immediately get more lumbar support. 

    Your sleeping position and the firmness of your mattress are important to note too! This will require a considerable amount of research and trial and error before finding a mattress that gives you proper lumbar support.

  • Expensive

    Investing in a new mattress can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars at a time, which may or may not guarantee proper lumbar support while you sleep at night. Always try out your mattress before committing to your purchase.

Bonus: Your shoes?

As whacky as it sounds, having the correct pair of shoes might also be able to help alleviate some of the back pain you are experiencing!

This is because wearing uncomfortable shoes throughout the day creates a chain reaction on your ankles, knees, hips, and ultimately your back. Instead, having a proper pair of shoes could help with your posture, and improve the support of your lumbar region.

Pros:

  • Stabilises feet, improving posture

    By wearing the correct type of shoes, you can actually practice good posture! This helps to keep everything in correct alignment and allows your muscles, bones, and joints to work efficiently.

  • Prevents you from accidentally setting your spine out of alignment

    In order to compensate for the lack of support in your shoes, you might need to adjust your posture in a way that sets your spine out of alignment. Wearing proper shoes prevents you from doing so, reducing the chances of incurring back pain.  

  • Lessen the force borne by other parts of the body

    A proper pair of shoes helps to absorb the impact as your foot hits the ground, which reduces the force borne by other parts of your body, including your back muscles. In turn, this lessens the probability of you suffering from backaches!

Cons:

  • Not usually the first cause for back pain

    Did you ever think that your shoes could cause back pains? Likewise, the type of shoes you wear, more often than not, is not the main cause as to why your back is hurting. Instead, it's usually due to other issues such as poor posture or an injury.
  • Might need additional arch support, correct shoes alone are insufficient

    On top of getting a pair of shoes that fits you, additional arch support might be required in order to fully relieve your back pain. For example, if your foot is of a low arch, it's more likely to overpronate (rolls downwards excessively when walking) which contributes to muscle stress in the back.

    Getting a good pair of shoes alone is insufficient. You might also have to consult your physician for more advice!

An ergonomic chair with good lumbar support for you

Options such as the support pillow and towel above are good if you are looking for a fast, temporary solution to improve your quality of life, or if you are on a tight budget.

However, they are not something you can rely on in the long term, especially if you have to be seated for prolonged hours!

If you are looking for a long-term investment that will keep your back supported effectively at work or at home, an ergonomic office chair is definitely something to consider. Not only do they help to support your back, but it also boosts your productivity and mood.

As cliché as it sounds, prevention is better than cure. Having an ergonomic chair from the start ensures that you adopt the correct position while sitting down, which greatly reduces the likelihood of incurring those pesky aches and pains.

"But what if I'm the kind who constantly fidgets and changes positions? Won't it displace some of the lumbar support from an ergonomic chair?"

Aha - we knew that some of you are worried about this, so we designed the ErgoTune Supreme to feature a smart lumbar support mechanism, known as the ATLAS Auto Tuning lumbar support. It shifts simultaneously with your body while you're seated in the chair, ensuring that your lumbar area is always supported, even if you're constantly fidgeting or switching between different sitting positions! 

Need a chair that gives you that all-day comfort? Get the top rated ergonomic chair today!