What is Lumbar Support?
A typical day at the office before the pandemic involved long hours at a desk, but because of phone calls, meetings, and lunch breaks, we always had reasons to stand up here and there. But now, as we work at home, the weight of the virtual world keeps us on our chairs longer than the average 8 hours. If we didn’t notice the pain of incorrect posture before, we do now.
Most of us, if not all, have seen or heard of pillows that claim to provide lumbar support. To the unknowing consumer, it may seem desirable for the purpose of comfort only, but little do they know it has more to do with the alignment of your spine!
Let’s break it down. The lumbar region is the lower part of the back; more specifically, it is made up of the largest vertebrae along the spine. Because of its positioning, the lumbar region is the most frequently damaged area overtime.
Considering all positions the human body takes in a day, sitting is one wherein the weight of the body is transferred to the pelvis area and its surrounding soft tissues, all to shift the weight from the feet and to maintain a stable posture so the muscles are not at work. The natural shape our lumbar region takes is at a concave toward the stomach–– this reduces pressure between the vertebrae.
While our spine maintains that curve even without lower back support, the natural tendency for most people when sitting for a long period of time is to slouch forward–– and while some perceive this as a lazy posture in body language, it’s only natural due to the fact that gravity pulls in the weight of our upper body. the slouching posture pushes the lower back out, the exact opposite direction of our inward curve.
A common misconception is that we don’t need lumbar support; reclining chairs can do the trick! What reclining chairs do is allow a good stretch and alleviate the weight from your shoulders, but where does that weight go? Your lower back! When lumbar support is sufficient, your ears, shoulders and hips should be relatively aligned. So the next question is, how?
Types of Lumbar Support
In some circumstances, a pillow attached to the lower part of a seat can follow the back’s curve, with the right thickness and height. But while it supplies extra comfort, the soft material may not offer enough support the curve when the person shifts full weight and leans back.
Portable Lumbar Back Support
These commercial lumbar back supports are usually made out of curved cushion and plastic that serves as a sturdier guide for our lower back when rested. This is best used for chairs that don’t offer enough support in that area, like dining chairs or carseats. The beauty of having anything portable is adjusting it to your liking, and using one item for multiple seats in your home, office, car, etc. However, the downside is that the positioning isn’t tailored to your body’s needs; you could be putting it too high or low, or the quality of support it gives your back may wear out over time as the material weakens.
Ergonomic office chair
Most office chairs are adjustable to suit the individual’s height, which is good for setting the recommended position with our feet comfortably flat on the floor. But what sets an ergonomic office chair apart from the rest is that the curve or lumbar support is part of the chair, built-in to fit just right.