11 January 2021

How Can I Get Better Lumbar Support?

If you are either looking for a remedy to your back aches, or are well-versed in the health industry, you would most likely have come across the word “lumbar support”. With work from home becoming the new norm, a lack of an ergonomic home office setup, combined with long hours of sitting, have prompted people to seek for solutions to better support for their lower backs, which range from ergonomic office chairs to even corsets! (better known as back braces)

Today, we will be helping you do the research, analyzing 6 of the most common lumbar support tools and weighing their pros and cons so that you can make a more informed decision to improve your back health and your happiness.  

1) Ergonomic Chair 

Founded by Polish biologist Wojciech Jastrzebowski in 1857,the word “ergonomics” comes from two Greek words, namely “ergon” and “nomos”. “Ergon” means work and “Nomos” means laws, hence ergonomics can be loosely translated into “laws of work". An ergonomic chair can thus be referred to any type of chair that serves to maximize your comfort, productivity and efficiency when using it in your workplace or at home. 

Pros: 

1) Excellent posture support

Ergonomic chairs, which are fully adjustable to suit not only your body, but also the environment you are working in, ensure that you maintain the correct sitting posture at all times.  While traditional chairs might be able to do the same, their lack of customizability could lead to bad posture. This not only puts undue stress on your spine, but also increases your susceptibility to back injuries.

2) Reduces neck pain 

As some ergonomic chairs come with a headrest, which provides support for the neck and head, you would be able to prevent unforeseen injuries to your neck which consequently lead to neck pain. In addition, headrests also encourages proper posture, preventing additional pressure from being applied to your neck that hurts it even more. This is vital as this pressure could lead to serious ailments such as spondylosis, which is a type of arthritis spurred by wear and tear to the spine.

3) Relieves hip pressure 
 

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

4) Improves blood circulation

The additional customizability that an ergonomic chair brings allows the user to sit with his/her 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. 

5) 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 

6) Helps with back pain 

A recent 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%). The design of ergonomic chairs, which not only supports the neck and shoulder, but also primarily aims to support the natural curvature of your back, which relieves tension from your back and helps with back pain.  

Cons: 

1) Cost

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

2) Some chairs not fully adjustable

While most office chairs claim to be ergonomic, the actual truth is that they might not be so. This is because they are not adjustable as you think they are, leading to unsatisfactory purchases where the chairs purchased 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 which offer a variety of adjustments. 

3) Need to be aware of the proper guidelines to sustain back health while seated

There are certain guidelines that you also have to follow in order to ensure that your posture is correct 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 such as slouching, the effectiveness of the ergonomic chair would be reduced.  

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

2) Lumbar Pillow

Usually made of firm foam and fiber, a lumbar pillow is specifically shaped to fill up the natural curvature of your back. This is done by using memory foam, which enables the pillow to conform to the shape of your back.

A lumbar pillow helps to provide relief and management of low back pain, which can originate from your common sprains and strains to more serious medical conditions such as ruptured discs or even traumatic injury aggravated by prolonged periods of sitting in one fixed position.

Pros:

1) 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.   

2) Convenient

Most lumbar pillows measure 14 inches by 22 inches, which make it easy for anyone to carry around and place on their chairs. 

3) Can be one size fits all

Filled with memory foam, which conforms to the shape of your back, it is possible for a lumbar pillow to be used between different people and still be effective.  

Cons: 

1) Single strap design makes it hard to use and adjust  

However, 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. 

2) Shorter warranty  

Compared to something like an ergonomic chair, a lumbar pillow’s warranty has an average length of just a few years. This results in constant buying and changing of your pillow if you are to rely solely on it for lumbar support.  

3) 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: 

1) Range of braces to cater to different types of lower back support

Ranging 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.  

2) 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. Additionally, it also provides the stability needed for injured or weakened spinal structures.  

3) 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 providing back ache relief. 

4) Limits range of motion during recovery

By preventing painful movements such as bending backwards and forwards or twisting sideways, it allows for a smoother recovery for the user. In addition, limiting such movements also improves the awareness of the user in terms of his posture.  

Cons: 

1) Not meant to solve all types of low back pain

Most of the time, other treatments would be recommended first before using the back brace such as pain medication or physical therapy. Sometimes, back braces can even exacerbate back pain if not diagnosed properly. 

2) Meant for short term relief  

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

3) 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.

4) 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: 

1) Convenient

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

2) 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. 

3) 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: 

1) Might not be a proper 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.  

2) Not the most adjustable 

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.  

3) Very DIY/hands on if you want to make a homemade version of a lumbar roll  

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.  

5) Shoes

It might sound unrelated, but having the correct pair of shoes might also be able to help alleviate some of the back pain you are experiencing! When wearing uncomfortable shoes throughout the day, this creates a chain reaction on your ankles, knees, hips and ultimately your back.  Having a proper pair of shoes could help with your posture and help improve the support of your back. 

Pros:

1) Improves and stabilizes feet, improving posture

By wearing the correct type of shoes, you would be able to practice good posture, which helps to keep everything in correct alignment and allows your muscles, bones and joints to work efficiently.

2) Prevents you from accidentally setting your spine out of alignment 

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

3) Proper shoes lessen force borne by other parts of the body

A proper pair of shoes helps 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 back aches.

Cons:

1) Not usually the first cause for back pain

When you think about back pain, it is unintuitive of us to think about our shoes being the root cause of the problem. Likewise, the type of shoes you wear, more often than not, is not the main cause as to why your back is hurting, but rather due to other issues such as poor posture or an injury. 

2) 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, your foot is more likely to overpronate (meaning that it rolls downwards excessively when walking) which contributes to muscle stress in the back. Thus, getting a good pair of shoes alone is insufficient and you might have to consult your physician for advice.  

6) Mattress

Besides spending the day sitting, the other place you spend the most time on is when you are asleep. About 1/3rd of your day is spent sleeping on your bed, and a mattress which gives you proper support for your back can be vital. 

Pros:

1) Keeps the spine in the same body position as good standing posture

With the correct mattress, you will be ensured that even when you are sleeping, your spine is properly aligned and good posture is maintained, allowing you to wake up ache free.  

2) Can be used as an aid to different back ailments (Osteoarthritis, Scoliosis, Herniated Discs and Degenerative Disc Disease)

Getting a mattress to aid with different back ailments helps provide support to painful pressure points in your body and provide an even and comfortable surface for you to rest on. This way, it helps apply pressure on the spine for it to straighten out, allowing the other muscles in your body to relax. 

Cons:

1) Hard to find a perfect fit for the individual

Getting a mattress just for lumbar support can be extremely challenging as it is based on a multitude of factors ranging from sleeping position to even the firmness of your mattress. This might require a considerable amount of research and trial and error before finding a mattress that gives you proper lumbar support.

2) Expensive

Investing in a 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.  

3) For hard mattresses, body weight can eventually create indentations

Sleeping on a hard mattress could result in your bodyweight creating random indentations, which not only reduces the quality of your sleep, but also reduces the lumbar support your mattress provides. 

4) Soft mattresses can potentially push the spine out of alignment, reducing the quality of sleep

When you sleep on a soft mattress, this results in your body sinking into it, which causes bad posture and even pushing your spine out of alignment. Subsequently, this could create back problems. 

Conclusion:

Depending on your needs, you can consider between these few options when it comes to getting more lumbar support.

Most of the options are good if you are looking for makeshift options to improve your quality of life or if you are on a budget. However, this is not something you can rely on in the long term especially during the day where 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, while maximizing your comfort and productivity, our flagship product, the ErgoTune Supreme is definitely something you can consider along with other ergonomic office chairs.

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

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