If you spend hours sitting at a desk every day, it’s likely that you’ve experienced some type of back pain.
Even if you don’t struggle with a bad back, having good lumbar support is essential for maintaining correct posture and ensuring you’re comfortable throughout the day.
It will also help reduce the risk of you encountering back pain and injuries in the future.
However, even if you have an ergonomic office chair, you may be confused about how to adjust it to correctly fit your height. In order for the chair to be effective, you need the lumbar support to be in the correct position.
Why is lumbar support important?
Lumbar support allows the lower back to do its job free from pain. Supporting the lower back is necessary not only for the muscles in this area but for the spine as well.
If the lower lumbar gets damaged or is put under constant stress, it can lead to frequent or long-term pain, discomfort, and stiffness. Eventually, you may have difficulty walking, and in extreme cases, it can even lead to paralysis.
Where should lumbar support be?
Lumbar support is any kind of support given to the lower back.
This support comes in the form of ergonomic office chairs, back braces and belts, specially-designed mattresses, and even contraptions such as corsets and other body shaping tools.
Lumbar support is necessary for supporting your back and promoting good posture and comfort, which will also reduce the risk of back pain.
Adjusting your chair to fit you properly
In order to get the most out of your ergonomic office chair, ensure the following are altered to accommodate your height so that the chair provides adequate lumbar support:
Seat Height: First up, you should adjust your chair to suit your height, which you should be able to do via a lever or pump underneath the seat.
The chair should be a height that allows your feet to sit flat on the ground, with your legs bent comfortably at a 90-degree angle.
If you find that you’re unable to adjust the chair low enough, it’s a good idea to use a footrest so that you can still achieve this position.
Seat Depth: If your chair has an adjustable seat pan, sit with your back flat against the backrest and adjust the seat so that there is at least one inch between the edge of the seat and the back of your knees.
Backrest: The majority of ergonomic chairs will have adjustable backrests. If your chair has an adjustable backrest height, alter this so that the lumbar area supports your lower back. If possible, you should also adjust the tension so that you’re supported but can still move freely.
Lumbar: The lumbar support should sit at your lower back, and some chairs allow you to adjust the lumbar depth, which you can alter to what feels most comfortable for you.
Remember, the chair should support the natural curve of your lumbar spine. If your chair lacks good lumbar support, try adding a rolled towel or cushion between your lower back and the chair.
Make sure you sit all the way back in your chair so the roll is supporting your spine rather than just cushioning it.
Armrests: Your armrests should sit at elbow height when your arms are by your sides. They should also be adjusted so that they’re the same height.
Some armrests have adjustable widths or can pivot, and if your chair has these features adjust them to suit your liking.
Headrest: If your chair has a headrest, this should be adjusted to lie at the base of your head. Your head should feel supported, but not forced downward or forward.
Additional tips for better lumbar support
- Avoid crossing your legs for long periods, as this can cause shoulder arthroplasty, forward head posture, and pelvic tilt. You should also keep both feet on a flat surface, with your legs bent at 90 degrees.
- Remind yourself to keep your back straight and your shoulders back to promote good posture.
- Avoid sitting for prolonged periods, and ensure you get up and move around every hour. The longer you sit, the more likely you are to become uncomfortable, and this means you’ll start slouching or sitting in a less ergonomic fashion.
- Look at ways you can make your office space more ergonomic. If you can’t buy a new chair, you can use a rolled-up towel or cushion as lumbar support. If you spend long periods on a computer, you should also consider a raised desk. Some people relieve back pain by using a standing desk for part of the day or sitting on a yoga ball for short bouts.
- Avoid slouching forward; try to maintain correct posture by sitting up straight with ears directly above the shoulders. If you work on a computer, you can adjust the monitor height so that your eyes naturally see the top third of the screen when looking straight ahead.
How to know when back pain is caused by ergonomics
- If your back pain feels worse at certain times of the day or the week, this could be an indicator of poor ergonomics impacting your back; for example, experiencing pain after a long day at work but not on the weekends.
- The type of pain characterized by poor ergonomics usually starts in the neck and moves downwards into the upper back and lower back, and can vary in intensity.
- Sometimes the pain may fade or go away completely once you switch positions.
- If you experience sudden back pain when starting a new job, or switching to a new office chair or car, it could be a symptom of poor ergonomics.
Lumbar support is essential not only for keeping your back muscles and spine in good condition but for increasing your quality of life.
Having good lumbar support will increase comfort and allow you to do your job more efficiently. Above all, it also reduces the risk of back pain and promotes good posture.