About Seat Cushions and Back Pain

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If you have chronic back problems or experience back pain after a long time working at your desk, the way you sit and what you sit in can play a huge role. Back pain can be prevented and relieved when you have the right chair cushion to keep you comfortable while providing the support you need for good posture and strong back protection.


If you round your back as you sit in a chair, it can result in problems, says Dr. Jolie Bookspan, director of Neck and Back Pain Sports Medicine and the Academy of Functional Exercise Medicine. This position puts pressure on discs and soft tissues in the neck, upper back and lower back. Over the years the discs can be pushed outward, eventually causing pain. Many seats have a round back that can promote these kinds of problems.


The right kind of back cushion should provide lumbar (the hollow of the back) support to promote posture and provide relief. Some chairs have been designed that way in recent years, but you can also buy lumbar cushions to place on the back of the chair to provide a comfortable and healthy foundation for the back. Lumbar cushions or chairs have an elevated area for the lower back.


Many people are amazed how they can feel immediate relief and comfort by sitting back into a lumbar chair. If you get a lumbar cushion, make sure it doesn’t feel too large or that it extends too high or low on your back. Lumbar cushions and chairs are usually designed to accommodate most people, but you should test them for superior comfort.


If you don’t have a lumbar-designed cushion or chair and need something quickly, use items around the house. A firm pillow, towels or shirts can be formed into your own temporary lumbar cushion. To make sure it’s the right size, your forearm is usually about the size for a lumbar roll. Sit back and place your forearm behind you between the low back and chair to feel the natural space needed. It should feel comfortable.


It's also good to keep your hips and knees at a right angle along with a back support cushion, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Do not cross your legs, and make sure your feet are flat on the floor while you sit for a long time. When you're driving, the clinic advises the use of a lumbar roll and moving the seat close to the steering wheel to support the hollow of your back.