Does sitting bother your back? Do you have a disc bulge/herniation (aka slipped disc) in your low back? Do you sit for most of your day? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you would (almost) certainly benefit from using a lumbar pillow while you sit.
When not using a lumbar pillow, most people tend to sit slouched with their low back rounded. Sitting in this way increases the strain on the discs in your low back, increasing your risk of back pain. This increased strain usually is not an issue for people who have never hurt their back and for those who do not tend to sit for long hours at a time.
However, this increased disc strain does matter for many people. For those who already have a disc bulge, this increased strain can increase the size of their disc bulge and worsen their symptoms. For people where the disc bulge process has already begun, this increased strain can speed up the injury process. And for people who sit for long periods of time, this increased strain can increase the risk of injury.
If you are in one of the groups mentioned above, using a lumbar pillow will help to keep your low back in a neutral spine position. In other words, it will help keep the natural inward curve in your low back while you sit. When your spine is in this neutral position, the strain on your back, specifically the discs, is the lowest. And the lower the strain on your discs, the less likely it is for your back to hurt.
Using a lumbar pillow correctly
Equally important to using a lumbar pillow is ensuring you use it correctly. If used incorrectly, at best it will not help at all and at worst it can worsen your pain.
The first thing to be aware of when using a lumbar pillow is its proper placement. Although the exact location may vary slightly, the best place to start is to place the pillow behind your back at the ‘hands on your hips’ height. Then vary the position slightly if necessary, either upwards or downwards, to find the sweet spot, aka the most comfortable spot.
Another important consideration is the thickness of the lumbar pillow. Generally, the pillow should be about the thickness of your forearm. If it is much thinner than that, it may not work. If it is much thicker than that, it may irritate the joints in your spine.
Ideally, it is also good to vary the thickness of the pillow from time to time while using it. This allows for slight changes in the posture of your spine, resulting in the strain on your back migrating between the tissues in your low back. This prevents any one tissue from becoming over-strained and painful.
At Flamborough Health Clinic, we sell two different lumbar support pillows, the EmbraceAirPlus and the LumbAIRPlus. Both of these pillows are air adjustable, allowing the thickness of the lumbar support to be easily and frequently changed. These pillows are ideal to help keep your low back as happy and healthy as possible while you sit. Contact us today to purchase yours.
So, if you have back pain while sitting or have a disc bulge or you sit most of the day, you will probably benefit from using a lumbar support pillow.