Help for Lower Back Pain

October 14, 2010

Lower back pain is being experienced by increasing numbers of American workers each year and  is now the second most common cause of disability in the U.S.  It’s believed that over three-quarters of Americans will encounter it at least once in a lifetime, a staggering statistic that has prompted more attention to prevention, possible causes, and treatment.

Researchers cite several factors that might be contributing to the number of reported cases, including weight, increased awareness, lifestyle, and occupation.  Unfortunately, office workers aren’t exempt.  Sitting in a chair for long periods of time can potentially cause a pre-existing condition to worsen or can even prompt periodic episodes of discomfort for those with no history of back problems.

Sitting, sitting, and then more sitting can wreak havoc on one’s back due to the tendency to not maintain good posture. Slouching in one’s seat can cause the lower back to bend in an unnatural position, potentially leading to strain and even damage.

Are you sitting up taller now? 

The good news is that you don’t need to read an article on the Internet as a reminder. An ergonomic chair can provide continuous back support and help maintain good posture, resulting in less potential to assume positions that are less than ideal for lower back health. A properly adjusted ergonomic chair can reduce the opportunity for stress and strain, lessening the chances that you’ll hear from an unhappy lower back on a regular basis!

But what about other chairs that you spend time in during the course of a normal day? While it’s not practical to cart your office chair home with you (even though you may want to!), you can enlist the aid of a lumbar support cushion to help make that dining chair a bit more comfortable, too.

Lumbar support cushions are available in a number of different sizes and price points. To find the right one for you, sit upright in the chair for which you plan to use it. Using your hand, reach behind and measure the approximate distance between the curve of your lower back and the chair. Try not to lean forward or back while doing this.  The thickness of the cushion should be in that range.  Then estimate the height of the curved area of your back. That will correspond to the height of the support pillow that will work best for you.

Alternatively, you can make your own cushion using a foam wedge like those commonly sold at fabric and department stores.  Or you can even use a bath towel or small baby blanket. Simply fold the towel in half and then roll it until it’s the proper thickness. Snip the remainder away, then secure both ends to prevent the towel from unraveling.  If you prefer a more finished look, cover the cushion with a pillow case or fabric, securing the ends with ribbon or string.

If you have any other tips for alleviating lower back pain, please comment and let us know!