You may have heard the phrase 'sitting is the new smoking' in the news over the past couple of years.
This is because new research has claimed that prolonged periods of sitting over the years can be just as harmful for our health as smoking is.
Now I wouldn't go as far as that personally.
But there's no doubt that sitting for long periods every day can play havoc with your body.
Especially your back.
But why is that?
There are three main reasons:
- When you sit down your vertabrae become compressed and can't take in the nutrients and oxygen they need to stay healthy (64). This weakens your spinal discs.
- Sitting for too long weakens the muscles that support your spine such as your hips, core muscles, abs and hamstrings.
- People tend to sit with a poor posture which puts more pressure on their spine.
All of these things make your spine less flexible and supported, and lead to your lower back taking on more of the load and strain throughout the day.
So the answer is simple right? Just don't sit down as much!
Unfortunately for many people this just isn't an option as in the modern world we are forced to sit down far too much.
Whether that is behind a desk or the wheel at work, or on the couch unwinding with a Netflix marathon.
We are all guilty of spending too much time on our backsides!
But there are measures you can take to limit the damage of all this sitting down.
- You can make an effort to spend less time sitting and more time being active.
- You can take 5 minute microbreaks every hour where you get up stretch and mobilise your body.
- You can invest in an ergonomic office chair which has good lumbar support.
- Or you can buy a lumbar support cushion to help you to maintain a good posture as you sit.
All of these are helpful, but for this article I'm going to focus on the last one.
So read on and find out just how a lumbar support cushion can help you at home, work and when on the move.
Lumbar Support Cushions: How to Use One And The Benefits They Bring
When we sit it's so easy to adopt a poor posture.
When your lower back flattens against the back of the chair you are sitting in it can create a 'C' curve in your spine.
And this throws your spine and neck out of alignment, while also increasing the strain and pressure on your back as you sit.
What you need to aim for instead is to maintain a natural 'S' curve in your spine as you sit, and this is what a lumbar support cushion can help you to acheive.
Because by placing the lumbar support cushion between the back of the chair and the small of your lower back you can bridge the gap and stop your spine from flattening out.
And this will not only lower the pressure and strain on your lower back.
It also allows your back muscles to rest and relax rather than being under constant strain.
Which will not only reduce your back pain, it will improve your health in all other areas too.
The video above explains how to use a lumbar support cushion and how important it is to place it in the right position.
And the benefits of using a lumbar support cushion have been backed up by scientific studies.
For instance, recent research has found that people with lower back pain that used a lumbar support cushion felt more comfortable and sat with a healthier curve in their spine (97).
And using a lumbar support cushion is also commonly recommended by physicians and chiropractors, as well as being approved by the FDA.
So they can be a cheap and affordable way of keeping you correctly aligned and reducing back pain from prolonged periods of sitting.
The Best Lumbar Support Cushion For Office Chairs
If you have to sit in an office chair during your working day then you have it tough.
Even if it's just for a couple of hours at a time, it can take it's toll on your body and make your back pain a hell of a lot worse.
So what can you do about it?
Now if you spend lots of time sat behind a computer I'd always recommend buying yourself an ergonomic office chair.
These have been designed with built in lumbar support and can be fully adjusted to fit your exact body shape.
This helps you to sit with a good posture throughout the day and takes the strain off your back, neck and shoulders.
And I've written a review of what I consider to be the best ones here if you want to find out more about them.
However while these chairs are a valuable purchase, they can also be an expensive one.
So if you want to save money and add good lumbar support to your current office chair instead, then buying a lumbar support cushion is a great option.
And a good one for this is the LoveHome Memory Foam Lumbar Support Cushion.
This is good because the memory foam provides enough support to stop your back from flattening out, but also remains comfortable to use.
Also the mesh cover keeps it cool throughout the day so it won't feel hot and sweaty against your back.
And it comes with an adjustable strap to keep it in place.
It also comes with a 60 day money back guarantee, so you have nothing to lose by giving one a try.
The Best Lumbar Support Cushion For Your Sofa
Now having an active and outdoor lifestyle is a wonderful thing.
I spent a year in Australia in my younger years and I absolutely loved the lifestyle over there.
Clocking off from work then heading to the beach for a swim, barbecue and to hang out with friends was an amazing and surreal experience for a boy from East London.
And the weekends were spent outside too, going on hikes, taking trips, playing football, the works.
It was so healthy, physically, mentally and emotionally.
But lets's face it, you need the climate and location to make that kind of lifestyle work.
And unfortunately for 95% of us the climate where we live makes it impossible to get out and about this much.
Instead you are forced to spend time indoors and I'm guessing most of us end up sat on our couches for hours on end.
Now I'm as guilty of a Netflix binge or watching 3 football matches back-to-back as the next man.
But too much time on your sofa can destroy your back.
This is because most sofas are built for comfort rather than support.
So we end up sinking in to them and sitting or laying down in ways that throw our spines completely out of alignment.
Now using a lumbar support cushion won't magically turn your sofa into a good place for your back.
But it can help you to sit with a better posture and minimise the damage of those TV marathons!
You can use any of the lumbar support cushions I've recommended in this article while sitting on your couch and they will do the job.
However try and limit the time you spend sitting on your couch instead, rather than using your lumbar support cushion as a reason to spend more time sitting on it!
The Best Lumbar Support Cushion For Driving
Do you want the bad news?
Those of you that have to drive for a living have it even worse than the office workers.
This is because on top of the extended periods of sitting down, you are also exposed to whole body vibrations from your vehicle as you drive.
And these vibrations get absorbed by your body and place additional pressure on your already compressed spinal discs.
In fact people exposed to whole body vibrations have been found to be four times more likely to develop lower back pain (64).
And these vibrations are even worse for bigger vehicles such as lorries and buses.
I've written an article with 16 tips on how to minimise the effects of these vibrations while driving that you can find here.
However another problem with driving is that most car, van and lorry seats are not built with the right amount of lumbar support.
And they can force you into an uncomfortable posture as you drive which increase strain and pain in your lower back over time.
Which is where a good lumbar support cushion can help.
As this will help you to maintain that healthy 'S' curve in your spine as you drive.
And one I'd recommend for drivers is the ComfiLife Lumbar Support Cushion.
This comes with an adjustable strap that holds it in place while your vehicle is moving (and vibrating!).
It's also made of memory foam that is comfortable on long drives while also providing the right amount of support.
And the breathable mesh material will ensure you don't get too hot either.
All in all it's a good choice for any long drive.
The Best Lumbar Support Cushion For Flying
Air travel can be a nightmare at the best of times.
Now I love travelling but I have grown to hate flying.
Being cramped into those uncomfortable chairs for hours on end, wedged in uncomfortably close to strangers, and the terminal boredom all get to me.
And being 6ft 3" tall means I become best friends with my knees as they spend far too much time closer to my chin than I'd like.
Unfortunately for me, the painting and decorating game is unlikely to ever become lucrative enough to be able to upgrade to business class.
But by using a lumbar support cushion for your flight you can really help to reduce the amount of discomfort and back pain you feel.
Now carrying on a regular lumbar support cushion may not be an option, as we are all restricted in the amount of hand luggage we can take aboard.
And I need space in my bag for stuff to kill the boredom like books, an ipad and my music.
So a good way to get around this is to buy an inflatable lumbar support cushion instead.
Not only are they easier to pack and carry, they also provide the same level of support once inflated.
And a good one I'd recommend is the Therm-a-Rest Lumbar Pillow.
It's self-inflating so you can adjust it easily and to the right level of support for you (as hard or soft as you need).
Also once deflated it can be rolled and stored easily as it shrinks to the size of a can of soda.
So it's perfect for when you are on the move.
And you can also use it for train and coach journeys as well as flights, and even on trips to the theatre and movies too.
So it's a great choice to help you to sit in more comfort wherever you are.
Sitting is a major cause of back pain, and unfortunately it is an unavoidable activity for many of us.
However by using a lumbar support cushion you can minimise the negative effects of time spent sitting.
Not only will it help you to maintain a healthy posture.
It will take the pressure off your lower back and allow your muscles to relax and rest.
Which will all help you to feel less pain in your back throughout the day.
I've given you three good examples of lumbar support cushions in this article that you can use at home, at work, and when on the move.
They are all cheap and affordable, and are a great purchase for anyone who suffers from back pain while sitting.
Try one out and see what you think.