Supporting your spine in the seated position is one of the most important back-saving habits you could possibly have. Sitting places one of the highest amounts of stress on the lower back, and slouching makes it far worse.
In the lower spine (Lumbar), there is a normal arch that occurs, and your spinal discs as well as ligaments can become quite agitated during prolonged flattening of that arch, and lead to pain.
Therefore, we must work to preserve that curve as we sit, but using our own muscles to hold ourselves up can be quite challenging, especially if you work the regular 9-5 workday. This is where having a lumbar support comes in.
Setting up the lumbar support improperly can be just as bad as not having one at all, so its important to set it up properly in order to benefit from the desired effect.
Tip 1: The Right Position
Sit with the back in full lordosis (arch), then back off approx. 10% toward neutral. This is generally where most people will need to be. Sitting like this can be very fatiguing for de-conditioned back muscles, but having the lumbar support in this position will ease the amount of muscle work.
Tip 2: Support Options
There are many different potential options for lumbar supports. Seat cushions, towel rolls, and “ergonomic chairs” often won’t get the job done because they are usually the wrong shape, and do not provide the adequate pressure needed at the right level in the lumbar spine. However, when needed, they can serve as a substitute very short term.
Tip 3: Optimal Diameter
The lumbar roll should be no more than four to five inches (about 10-13 centimeters) in diameter before being compressed. It should be filled with foam rubber of moderate density so that when compressed its diameter reduces to about 1.5 inches. (about 4 centimeters).
I highly recommend the “Mckenzie Super Roll”, which a wonderfully designed lumbar support made JUST for this purpose.
When adjusting to the new support, you may experience some ache, but it should improve fairly quickly. It all depends on how stiff you are from the get-go in the lumbar region, and of course the proper ergonomic set up.