Answer: A simple, and wonderful, cushion that is designed specifically to provide the right kind of support for your lower back. Before you get your own, see if a lumbar pillow is right for you.
This kind of pillow can be used at home, in the car, at your desk, waiting for your name to be called at the dentist, and virtually any place where you will be in a seated position. Here’s the skinny on what a lumbar cushion is, does, how it works, and why having your own lumbar pillow may be beneficial. But before that, let’s clarify a few things:
- Your spine is divided into four regions: cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral.
- The vertebrae in your spine are named according to the region where they live.
- Therefore, lower back pain is often due to issues in the lumbar region of your spine. Slipped or bulging discs and/or muscle strain, are common in this area. The lumbar vertebrae are shown in red in the animated drawing. Lumbar Vertebrae Animation
Do you see how the spine forms a natural, C-shaped curve towards its base? This curve is smack dab in the middle of the lumbar region, which gives it its name: the lumbar curve. A lumbar pillow is a firm, contoured cushion, specifically designed to fit and support your lumbar curve.
Who Needs a Lumbar Pillow?
If you rarely, or never, experience back pain (lucky you!), or do not have a job that requires you to sit for long periods of time, you may never need this special pillow. However, for those who experience lower back pain, and/or who spend a good deal of time sitting down, the right support can decrease lower back pain, help to improve conditions like sciatica or a herniated disc, and can improve posture.
Our bodies aren’t meant to remain seated. They are meant to walk, stand, bend, squat, and basically move a lot, as we go about the business of survival – i.e. hunting, gathering, building and maintaining shelter, fetching water, etc. The modern conveniences we are used to have created a sitting down (sedentary) lifestyle, and this has some disadvantages if we aren’t careful. One of the by-products of sedentary life is increased lower back pain.
Consider purchasing, or experimenting with, a lumbar pillow if you:
- Have a job where you sit for long periods of time. Most of these pillows are small and easy to fit into a desk drawer or backpack. Use one at work everyday for a week or so, and see how you feel. We bet it will make a difference in your posture, and will reduce any lower back pain you may experience from time to time.
- Drive a lot. Driving means sitting, and driving for long stretches without breaks can cause back pain. This is especially true for those who already struggle with sciatica or herniated (slipped) discs. Keep the pillow in your car and start using it when you drive.
- In your wheelchair. If you use a wheelchair, try adding this support to provide extra postural support and relief.
- At the movies. Again, they are easy to fit in a backpack or larger shoulder bag. Most movies are at least two hours long, which can make your back pain worse if you don’t have proper support.
- In a waiting room. Get the theme here? Anytime you’ll be seated for more than a few minutes, get yourself a lumbar pillow and heal.