Is lumbar support good for your back?
According to studies, up to 80% of the population experiences back pain, so it's natural to wonder whether additional lumbar spine support can prevent or relieve back problems. (1)
So, I'm here to talk about the benefits and drawbacks of back support devices and give you a few tips on how to use them safely.
Just keep reading.
- Lumbar support devices can help you maintain a neutral sitting position, improve poor posture, and relieve back pain.
- You should be careful not to overuse lumbar support devices or rely on them too much to solve your back problems.
- Always consult a medical professional before using lower back support devices for extended periods of time.
What Does Lumbar Spine Mean?
Many people connect the word "lumbar" with lumbar support pillows, ergonomic office chairs, or back braces. But it's more than a fancy word sellers use to promote their products.
The lumbar spine is part of the human body, located in the lower back region. It consists of five vertebrae, providing stability for your back and supporting your body's weight.
More importantly, it's also an attachment point for many muscles, allowing you to walk, run, sit, lift, and move around smoothly. So, problems in this area can affect mobility and quality of life!
Naturally, the lumbar spine has a slight inward curve. But you disrupt this natural curvature when you lean back in your chair and slide your bottom forward. And that can cause problems in the long run.
But what do lumbar spine devices, including a belt for back pain relief for women, do? Let's find out!
What's the Function of Lumbar Support?
As experts from the ChairOffice explain, "Lumbar support is any apparatus that supports the lumbar region of your back (lower back) while seated." (2)
It fills the gap between the seat and your spine, so your back remains in a neutral position. It also takes the extra pressure off your spine, preventing back pain from poor posture.
The main types of lumbar support are:
- Fixed. It doesn't allow you to change the position of the lumbar support product, so it's not the best option.
- Adjustable lumbar support. You can change the settings of some office chairs to match the correct position for your body or adjust the straps of a back brace to fit properly.
- Dynamic lumbar support. It automatically adjusts the support level based on your posture.
- External lumbar support, such as an ergonomic lumbar support pillow. You can attach it to your office chair with straps to maintain a comfortable seated position.
Still, are those devices good for your spinal health? And do they have any drawbacks? Let's find out!
Benefits and Drawbacks of Lumbar Support Devices
So, is lumbar support good for your back? Well, it depends on the reason behind your back discomfort and whether you're using the correct type of lumbar support.
Let's discuss the benefits and drawbacks of lumbar support for your spine health. Or check the table below.
|Maintain natural spine position
|It shouldn't be used for long periods
|Reduce lower back pain
|It can make some conditions worse
|Provide extra back support
|Not enough evidence that it prevents injuries
|Possible sciatica and herniated disc relief
|Extra comfort when sitting/standing
Benefits of Lumbar Support
As a writer, I spend most of my time sitting and slouching in front of a computer. At first, I didn't think much about my bad posture until I started having back, shoulder, and neck pain.
My doctor explained that the cause was my bad posture. So, I looked into lumbar support cushions for increased comfort and a correct posture.
And here are the main benefits I experienced after using a lumbar pillow and belt for a few months.
#1 Healthy Posture
Bad posture is one of the main reasons for chronic lower back pain because it distributes body weight unevenly, causing stress on the spine, discs, muscles, nerves, and joints.
And once you're used to standing or sitting in a slouched position, it's hard to correct your posture without help. Fortunately, lumbar support can keep the spine neutral and prevent you from slumping.
Specialists from Nouhaus also say, "Better posture means less strain on your muscles and better blood flow to your lower back." (3)
A healthy posture also reduces your risk of injury, improves your mood, and alleviates headaches related to muscle tension.
#2 Pain Relief
According to studies, people with sedentary jobs are more likely to experience back, shoulder, or neck pain. (4)
That's because a seated position puts extra pressure on the back muscles and discs. And most people tend to slouch or slump while working, especially if they must remain seated for hours.
A spine support can take some of the extra stress off your spine, relieving the discomfort of sitting or standing for a prolonged period of time.
Moreover, lumbar braces are designed to keep your back warm. Increased blood circulation means your muscles won't tense or stiff while standing or sitting.
However, a lumbar device won't make much difference if your back pain is related to kidney stones, infections, or tumors.
Studies are also inconclusive on how useful lumbar support devices are for treating chronic pain in patients with lower back problems. (5)
#3 Keep Injuries from Worsening
A back brace for lumbar support can take some weight off your injured lower back, reducing the pressure on your spine while it heals.
Moreover, some back braces limit your range of motion, so you can't make your injured muscles, tendons, or joints worse. And it keeps the spine in the proper position, providing extra support.
#4 Improved Sleep Position
Do you know that sleeping in an unnatural position can cause back discomfort? That's because your spine and muscles aren't aligned, which stresses the tendons and ligaments.
A lumbar mattress is an excellent way to ensure a proper sleeping position. It fills the gaps between your spine and the mattress, maintaining the natural inward spine curve.
And when you have proper spine support during the night, you enjoy uninterrupted sleep, which benefits your whole organism. You also don't wake up with back aches, stiffness, and muscle tension.
#5 Possible Sciatica Relief
Sciatica occurs when a herniated disc or a bone overgrowth presses the sciatica nerve. The result is lower back pain, leg weakness, tingling, and numbness.
Lumbar support braces can reduce sciatica discomfort by stabilizing the spine, keeping it aligned in its natural position, and providing compression to ease the pain.
I've used Stot Sport's Lumbar Support Brace to manage sciatica for the last couple of months. It proved an excellent way to lower the pain without irritating my skin.
So, I can testify that lumbar support braces can be an excellent way to deal with mild to moderate sciatica pain.
#6 Herniated Disc Support
If you have a herniated disc, one of the discs between your vertebrae pushes into the spinal canal, causing pain, sciatica, and other health problems.
A lumbar back support brace can stabilize and support the spine, reducing discomfort. Some types of braces also limit twisting or bending, so you can't make your herniated disc worse.
I love lumbar pillows because they relax my muscles, no matter how many hours I spend in front of my computer. They're also portable, versatile, and inexpensive.
Moreover, according to a study, healthy people report an increased level of comfort when using lumbar support pillows. (6)
So, lumbar support is good for your back because you can sit or stand for prolonged periods without experiencing severe discomfort.
But are there any dangers to using extra spine support? You'd be surprised!
Drawbacks of Lumbar Support
While lumbar support cushions or braces can benefit your spinal health, you should be aware of potential drawbacks.
#1 You Can't Use It Forever
As specialists from Core Chiropractic Care say, "Used properly and for the correct duration, back braces usually do not weaken back muscles." (7)
The key word is "correct duration." You can't rely on a back brace or other types of lumbar support forever, or you risk weakening the core muscles that support your back.
You should consult a medical specialist about how long you should wear supportive devices to ensure you get the right amount of support for your condition.
#2 Risk of Complications
Proper lumbar support can improve your spinal health and prevent chronic back pain. But the key word is "proper" because not all lumbar pillows or braces offer adequate support.
Using the wrong supporting device can make an existing condition worse or change your posture, putting you at risk of lower back discomfort.
Moreover, some braces and pillows are made from rigid material that can exacerbate pain, especially when positioned incorrectly.
#3 It Can't Prevent Injuries
Many people wear lumbar support brace to avoid back injuries when heavy lifting or working. However, studies haven't found strong evidence that extra back support can prevent injuries.
Instead, specialists recommend learning proper lifting techniques and maintaining proper posture to avoid back injuries. Check the video below for more information.
#4 You Rely Too Much On It
Another danger is that people get used to lumbar braces or other supportive devices, so they don't try to correct their poor posture. And that's bad for the musculoskeletal in the long run.
Now, I have some tips to ensure you minimize the dangers of using lumbar support devices for your back!
Tips and Tricks for Using Lumbar Support for Your Back
Nowadays, getting lumbar support products from online or physical stores is easy. But you should remember the following tips to ensure you use them correctly.
#1 Consult A Specialist
If you have chronic pain in the lumbar region, you should consult a specialist before you try lumbar braces, rolls, or pillows.
For some spine conditions, extra support can do more damage than good. Moreover, supportive devices won't make much difference if your pain is related to other organs and structures.
#2 Start Using Lumbar Support Devices Slowly
Always start using lumbar support braces slowly to avoid skin irritations or worsening your condition. Wear them for 15-20 minutes per day until you reach the recommended duration.
Some minor discomfort is normal in the first few days, but you should consult your healthcare provider if the pain gets worse or doesn't improve.
#3 Position the Support Correctly
Lumbar pillows should fit at the small of your back to contour to the natural spine curve. Back braces should fit snuggly over your lower back.
#4 Pick the Right Fit
The lumbar pillows, rolls, and chairs should match your spine's curve, or you can develop a bad posture.
Moreover, lumbar braces should be tight but not too tight to provide the required support and stability to the spine.
#5 Stay Active
Lumbar support isn't a permanent solution to your back problems. It's vital to keep your back muscles strong and active with the right type of aerobic exercise.
Moreover, staying active will help you maintain a healthy weight or lose extra weight. And that's important because excess weight can damage your joints, muscles, and ligaments.
Check this video for suitable exercises for strengthening your back.
1. How long should I wear a lumbar support?
You should wear lumbar supportive devices for no more than a couple of days without consulting a specialist.
2. How do I know if I need lumbar support?
You may need extra spine support if you have a bad posture when sitting or an underlying medical condition that affects the spine.
3. What makes lumbar pain worse?
Walking, standing, lying, or sitting for prolonged periods of time can make your lumbar pain worse. Cold or hot weather can also affect your spine's muscles and tendons.
Is lumbar support good for your back? It can be an excellent way to increase comfort, relieve sitting pain, or stabilize injuries.
However, excessive back support use can have negative effects in the long run and make it difficult to maintain proper posture.
What do you think about this topic? Is lumbar support good for your back? Share your thoughts in the comment section.
1. Casiano V, De N. Back Pain [Internet]. PubMed. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538173/
2. What is Lumbar Support In Ergonomic Office Chairs? [Internet]. ChairOffice T/A Full Range Furniture Ltd. [cited 2023 Dec 1]. Available from: https://www.chairoffice.co.uk/blog/what-is-lumbar-support/
3. The Importance of Lumbar Support [Internet]. Nouhaus Inc. Available from: https://www.nouhaus.com/blogs/blog/the-importance-of-lumbar-support
4. Hanna F, Daas RN, El-Shareif TJ, Al-Marridi HH, Al-Rojoub ZM, Adegboye OA. The Relationship Between Sedentary Behavior, Back Pain, and Psychosocial Correlates Among University Employees. Frontiers in Public Health [Internet]. 2019;7. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2019.00080/full
5. van Duijvenbode I, Jellema P, van Poppel M, van Tulder MW. Lumbar supports for prevention and treatment of low back pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2008;
6. Grondin DE, Triano JJ, Tran S, Soave D. The effect of a lumbar support pillow on lumbar posture and comfort during a prolonged seated task. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies. 2013;21.
7. Can Back Braces Cause Muscle Weakness? - Core Chiropractic in Bakersfield [Internet]. Core Chiropractic + Wellness. 2021. Available from: https://www.chiropractorbakersfield.com/back-pain-bakersfield/can-back-braces-cause-muscle-weakness/