We’ve been hearing the phrase ‘lumbar support’ since we started working at home. And if you’ve bought an office chair, chances are that you’ve encountered some brands focusing on the presence of lumbar support.
Lumbar support is the term used to refer to the aid given to your lower back on any seating piece of furniture. Since it’s for this area, your chair’s support should encompass the half of your back up to the pelvic hip.
But there’s a lot to know about lumbar support other than looking for a chair with a curved back.
We’ll talk about why you actually need it, where it’s supposed to be, and how you can adjust it.
This way, you’ll be able to take care of your lower back better and prevent any aches and pains.
Table of Contents
Why do you need lumbar support for your back?
Lumbar support for your back is important because the lower part of the spine naturally curves inward. If you’ve seen photos of the spine, you’ll notice that its lower part has a curve as if the stomach is meant to be pushed forward.
The lumbar support will help maintain this inward curve. Even when we rest and relax, this support will help keep our postures right.
Without lumbar support, our muscles that hold up that inward curve will weaken and tire. This will lead us to slouch and do an outward curve.
And this is the posture that we don’t want to have as it tenses our muscles in the wrong direction.
Moreover, when the lower part of our back slouches, the neck and shoulders follow this position. In other words, the muscles and bones in these areas will also be in an unnatural position.
Why does lumbar support hurt my back & discomfort?
A lot of people wonder, “does lumbar support have to be uncomfortable?”. The answer is no.
In most cases, lumbar support will be uncomfortable if it’s placed in the wrong position. If you’re using a chair, then the chair might be too big for you or the lumbar adjustment is not at the right height.
But if it’s a lumbar pillow you’re using, then it’s most likely placed in the wrong height. The best way to make it more comfortable is by placing it in your lumbar area.
However, the lumbar support can hurt if it’s the wrong size for your back. This happens whether you’re using a lumbar pillow or an office chair.
If this is the case, it’s best to pick an office chair that is not too big or too small for you. To know this, the seat itself should be able to let you have an inch from the back of your knees to the seat.
It’s also important that the backrest itself can be tilted to a 90-degree angle. This way, you should be able to sit upright and you can better see if the chair would fit the curve of your back.
Of course, if it’s a lumbar pillow you’re using, make sure it’s not too big for you that it curves more than your lower back. Likewise, the pillow shouldn’t be too small so that it perfectly curves your spine.
Where should lumbar support be on your back?
Taken from its name, the lumbar support should be placed on your lumbar or lower back area. To be specific, the lumbar support is the area above your pelvic bone and below your ribcage.
With that said, your lumbar support should be placed on your lower back, just where the curve of your spine is.
A trick to knowing where you should place the support or where your chair should have the curve is by sitting in an upright position. Try sitting on a chair and straighten your back without overly pushing your chest forward.
When you’re in this position, you’ll notice that your back will have this inward curve at the lower area. This is where your lumbar pillow or lumbar support on your chair should be.
As much as possible, pick a chair where you can lock the height of the backrest so that the curved position will always fit your back’s curve. For pillows, they should have a strap that locks the pillow in place.
How to adjust lumbar support on an office chair?
There are many ways to adjust your lumbar support and this depends on your chair’s design and mechanism.
Let’s say your office chair has a knob that you twist to adjust the lumbar support. If this is the case, then you simply turn the knob clockwise or counterclockwise.
Depending on the instructions of the manufacturer, the direction to where you twist depends. But after you’ve adjusted the lumbar support, you should notice it fitting your spine’s natural curve properly.
There are office chair designs where you can just move the backrest up or down. If this is what’s available, all you can do is adjust the height of the backrest so the curve of the cushion or mesh will be best fitted to your back.
To do this, press the button attached to the side of the backrest and glide it up or down. Remember, the curve of the backrest should be right where the curve of your spine is.
When you’ve found the right height, just release the button.
Some chairs won’t have a button, so you can test if the backrest can move up and down. When it can, then find the right height that will best fit your lower back. Backrest adjustments without buttons usually have a tighter fit so it might take a harder push or pull to get it to slide up and down. This tight fit is what keeps the backrest from readjusting on its own.
The lumbar support on your back should be placed right above your pelvic bone but below your rib cage.
For office chairs, the part of the backrest that has the most inward curve should be placed right at the back of the most inward curve of your spine.
To adjust the lumbar support properly, you can use a lever or a button to adjust the height of the backrest or to tighten the support of your chair.
My name is Vance, and I am the owner of To Ergonomics. Our mission is to improve your workflow by helping you create a supportive and welcoming environment. We hope that you’ll find what you’re looking for while you’re here.