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Working in an office environment normally requires employees to sit in a chair for prolonged periods. However, traditional office chairs are designed without adequate back support and ergonomics. The lack of cushioning can cause the person sitting to shift their weight forward, resulting in muscle tension and poor postural habit. When a great deal of stress is placed on the joints, soft tissues, and spine, it can result in several health issues. This is why high quality modern office chairs are now designed with some type of ergonomic lumbar support.
What is Lumbar Support?
A lumbar support is any cushioning that provides the lower back region with reinforcement. It fills in the gap between the spine and seat so that the spine can keep its natural “S” curve. When an office chair lacks lumbar support, the discs that align the vertebrae can slip, resulting in neck or back pain, postural dysfunction, sciatica, and even protrusion.
Why is a Lumbar Support Office Chair Important?
The lower portion of a person’s spine naturally curves inward towards the abdomen. Without a lumbar support, muscles in the lower back have to work harder to maintain proper curvature. When the lumbar muscles get tired, they can weaken, resulting in the following problems:
#1 Neck and Back Pain
Once a person develops neck or back fatigue, there is an increased possibility for it to worsen over time if left unaddressed. A lumbar support is an easy way to ease the discomfort so that chronic back pain or spinal disorders can be avoided.
# 2 Poor Circulation
Sitting in a slouching position for extended durations can induce the muscles and joints to tighten. This may compress the arteries, resulting in reduced blood flow throughout the body. A lumbar support office chair helps to distribute a person’s weight evenly when they are seated, improving blood vessels as the flow of blood is increased.
#3 Bad Posture
Maintaining proper posture without lumbar support is not easy. The reason for this tendency is that the muscles can become tired and weak, causing the body to lean forward or slouch. Once a person has developed a bad habit of hunching, it can be difficult to break. When ignored, it can lead to postural dysfunction.
#4 Overall Discomfort
Being in a static position for several hours every day can result in stiff and sore muscles. If a person continues to work this way without the aid of lumbar support, chances are they will feel aches and pains all over.
What are the Types of Lumbar Support?
Now that you know why you should look for a lumbar support office chair, it is time to find out which is best suited for you. Here are the common types of back and spine cushions:
#1 Fixed Lumbar Support
A fixed lumbar support is just what its name suggests - fixed. It is typically built into the lower end of an office chair and cannot be bent, repositioned, or adjusted in any way. Given its lack of flexibility, this type of lumbar support office chair can be counterproductive since its height and depth cannot be repositioned to suit the unique shape and size of every user. However, it is better than having no lumbar support for any office chair at all.
#2 Adjustable Lumbar Support
An adjustable lumbar support can be manually adjusted to fit a wide range of spinal curvatures. The height is variable so that the user can target the precise area of their back that needs support.
#3 Dynamic Lumbar Support
Mostly found on high-end office chairs, a dynamic lumbar support automatically adjusts the depth and firmness of a seat to adapt to the user’s posture. It reacts to postural changes so that the user’s back can be supported at all times.
#4 External Lumbar Support
External lumbar supports are very popular because they are portable and cheaper compared with a built-in cushion. They are designed to fit most types of office chairs, including car seats and recliners, as they come in a variety of shapes and sizes to match different body types.
Some external lumbar supports come with strings or straps for effortless attachment to office chairs. Others are inflatable for easy adjustment based on a person’s needs. A downside with this type of lumbar support office chair is it sometimes has a difficult time staying in place.
How Does One Choose an Office Chair with Lumbar Support?
To find the right back support for your needs, here are a few things to look for:
The best office chairs with lumbar supports are those that are padded with an injection foam inside. This ensures the lower back is comfortable and well supported so that users do not experience spinal pressure or pain.
Some lumbar supports, like an external cushion, can slip and fall out of place every time the person sitting moves around. To prevent this, choose a lumbar support that has adjustable and detachable straps so that they secure well to any chair.
While some people prefer the use of office chairs with built-in lumbar support systems, others do not. Many choose portable and removable lumbar supports so that they can use them in the car, a plane, or other settings.
A good lumbar support office chair should not only help align the spine but also provide comfort. It should be hypoallergenic to prevent triggering any type of skin reaction. It should also be breathable so that sweat accumulation can be prevented. A good material for a backrest is mesh as it allows the body to stay cool.
If a person tends to work for long hours a day, having a lumbar support office chair can be very beneficial as it allows them to maintain spinal alignment and prevent long-term back and muscle issues. Mix it with some frequent movement and postural changes so that the spine is kept healthy and pain-free.