woman laying in need of lumbar support
Sleep Health

What Is Lumbar Support and Why Do We Need It?

  •  Purple Author Icon
    Last Updated
    October 17, 2021
    min read

    Some people have issues keeping proper posture in their lower back when sitting, standing, lifting, exercising, or even laying on a bed. Because the muscles around the lumbar region are prone to strains and spasms, and there are numerous nerve endings, pain from such injuries can be severe. Lumbar support assists in creating proper posture for the naturally curved portion of the lower back.

    Lumbar support products are widely available, especially for chairs. Special pillows and braces for better support are also available, and some beds have features that promote proper posture while sleeping. Here is what you need to know about the types of support available for the lower back.

    Anatomy of the Lower Back

    The lower back contains five vertebrae. They sit roughly between the hips and pelvis and the ribcage, where they act as a kind of connection between the upper and lower portions of your body.

    The lumbar region includes the lowest five vertebrae on the spine. Known by the numbers L1 through L5, these five pieces sit between the sacrum and the diaphragm.

    This section of the back includes a complex combination of bones, flexible ligaments and tendons, muscles, joint capsules, and sensitive nerves. The vertebrae need to be strong to support the upper body, and they need to be flexible to facilitate extension, side bending, lifting, and core rotation.

    If this well-balanced system gets out of balance because of chronic poor posture, pain can quickly spread. It can get worse as you try to overcompensate and adjust your posture to protect the sore areas.

    Lumbar support devices and features seek to alleviate this problem by assisting in keeping the spine aligned and all the different lumbar components in proper balance.

    Benefits of Lumbar Support

    The main benefit of lumbar support is that it maintains the natural curvature of the lower spine. This helps prevent nerve issues and muscle strains, which are the primary cause of back pain.

    Lumbar support products can provide other benefits, as well. These include:

    • Lumbar support can limit motion if your lower back is already strained or injured. This stability can speed recovery.
    • Lumbar support also helps rebalance strained portions of the back to stop existing pain.
    • Lumbar braces can ease pressure on the spine during heavy lifting.
    • Lumbar support chairs and pillows can ease the pressure on the spine and back muscles and make sitting for long periods more comfortable.
    • Lumbar support can help train you to have proper posture even when you are not using it.
    • Because it facilitates proper alignment in the lumbar region, it can enhance circulation and breathing, which can improve general health.

    Pain and health issues can arise if you lack proper lumbar support.

    Common Issues Caused by Lack of Lumbar Support

    A lack of proper lumbar support can cause significant issues. These problems can be especially pronounced if your job requires sitting for long periods or requires heavy lifting and repeated pushing motions.

    Some of the common issues caused by the lack of proper lumbar support include:

    • Suffering from muscle strains, spasms, and contractions;
    • Developing chronic back pain or stiffness over time;
    • Experiencing anxiety or depression as a result of the chronic discomfort;
    • Feeling tingling or numbness in your legs and your feet.
    • Enduring pain in your upper back, shoulders, and neck because these portions of the body are trying to overcompensate because of the lumbar discomfort.

    Choosing the correct form of lumbar support is essential for avoiding these problems.

    Types of Lumbar Support

    If you have back pain or chronic soreness, lumbar support is essential in all areas of life. Products are available to provide proper support in chairs and on beds. There are also braces for maintaining posture at work or during activities.

    Here is a closer look at different types of lumbar support.

    Lumbar Support For Office Chair

    A curved back or lumbar cushion can be placed to fit on an office chair or car for added lumbar support. These cushions can be used with most types of chairs and cars. Without lumbar back support, it can be difficult to maintain proper posture.

    Check out Purple’s back cushion that is made with 100% Grid that's been molded to perfectly fit the contour of the lower back, for the ultimate lumbar support.

    800Px 20210511 Purple Seatcushions 7795

    Shop Back Cushions

    Lumbar Support For Adjustable Bed Frames

    Adjustable beds can add much needed support for people with back pain and problems. The Purple Ascent Adjustable Base provides premium, customizable support for your mattress.

    Adjustable Frame

    Shop Adjustable Bed Frame

    Lumbar Support For Pillows

    In some cases rolling up a towel or purchasing a small pillow can act as lumbar support. Purple offers a variety of pillows in different sizes. Designed to provide innovative comfort.


    Shop Pillows

    Back and Lumbar support for Mattresses is Important

    The mattress relies on foam, latex, or springs to provide direct support for your body. Some mattresses are hybrids that combine the contouring features of foam and the supportiveness of springs. A mattress can give way to weight pressure while still providing the right amount of support so that your spine remains aligned when you are sleeping on your back or side.

    Hybrid Premier Mattress

    Shop Hybrid Mattresses

    Lumbar Support for Seating Is Important

    Chairs with lumbar support can enhance comfort and eliminate lumbar pain for people who sit all day at work. These products rely on their design to maintain natural pressure and weight on the spine. They typically curve to follow the natural contours of your spine. There are several options for lumbar chairs.

    • Fixed support chairs build the lumbar feature into the backrest. Since there is little room for adjustment, you need to find a fixed support chair that matches your particular spine curvature.
    • Adjustable support seats are chairs that allow manual adjustment. Typically, these products let you change settings such as height, curvature, and tension.
    • Dynamic support seats include chairs that automatically adjust depth and firmness based on your sitting posture and weight distribution. The automatic adjustment makes these options excellent at providing adequate lumbar support. However, they are usually the costliest option.

    Another choice is to use a lumbar support cushion. The advantage of these products is that they can work on any type of chair, and you can take them with you throughout the day.

    Braces For Lumbar Support

    Back braces and supports can provide assistance when you are active. Quality shoes can also affect lumbar health.

    Proper body alignment starts at your feet. If your job involves standing for long periods, shoes with adequate support and cushioning are an essential starting point for proper posture. Quality shoes can offer lumbar support, though a physician may also recommend inserts or extra arch support depending on the shape of your foot. Also, new shoes tend to get worn down after eight months or so.

    Back braces can provide lumbar support during physical work, exercises, or activities. Some of these products offer compression, while others help keep your spine in the correct position while you heal from existing back injuries or chronic soreness.

    Sleeping Positions Impact On Lumbar Health

    Sleeping position can also affect lumbar health. Sleeping on your side supports the spine’s neutral alignment if you have a supportive mattress. This position can also support proper circulation and digestion. Another option is to train yourself how to sleep on your back to ensure proper alignment. If you prefer this position, a lumbar support pillow can provide additional assistance. The best sleeping position is the one in which you feel the most comfortable that does not cause or exacerbate back pain.

    You also need to choose the best mattress for avoiding back pain. While there is some room for personal preference, you usually need to opt for a quality product if you want the right kind of lumbar support. The best hybrid mattresses use multiple components to ensure adequate lumbar support and are worth considering if you are not getting the right level of support from a foam or spring option.

    How to Choose Lumbar Support

    What is the best lumbar support? The answer depends on the type of back pain you experience and how you spend your days.

    • You can consult a physician to ascertain the source of your back pain and the source of the pain. It could be a sitting or sleeping position or daily physical strain from work or activity.
    • Once you know the source of your discomfort, you can define the types of lumbar support that you need.
    • You can get input from your physician about the type of support that you need.
    • Adjustable chairs and braces can help you find the correct level of support without any trial-and-error purchases.
    • You may want to try a hybrid mattress to see if it offers better support than your current bed during the night.

    While anyone can benefit from lumbar support, it is especially critical for certain individuals.

    Individuals Who Especially Need Lumbar Support

    Some individuals have a higher risk of developing back pain if they lack lumbar support.

    • People over age 40;
    • People with a BMI of 30 or higher;
    • Pregnant women;
    • People who do not exercise frequently;
    • People with arthritis or chronic spine conditions;
    • People who work in a seated position all day;
    • People who engage in physical labor.

    A quality bed and supportive chair can help anyone avoid chronic back issues later in their life.


    About the authors

    Purple Staff
    Connect with Purple —