The Best Lumbar Support Pillows – Top Picks and Buyer’s Guide

Quick Overview

Although multiple medical conditions and lifestyle factors can contribute to low back pain, one of the most common causes is poor posture. When your spine isn’t properly aligned when you sit for long periods, it can cause a buildup of tension in your lower back – the lumbar region – that causes pain and discomfort. However, with the right support, you can alleviate, or even prevent this pain from occurring.

Buying Guide – How to Shop for a Lumbar Support Pillow

Lumbar support pillows can help prevent or alleviate back pain, but it’s important to select the right one and use it properly. Read on to learn more about how to select the right pillow, what you need to know about how they are constructed, and the best ways to care for them.

What Are Lumbar Support Pillows?

Sitting for extended periods is one of the most common causes of lower back pain. When you sit, you put more pressure on your lower spine than in any other position, while also creating an imbalance in your spine and neck. Leaning forward, sitting with your shoulders rolled forward, or in a position where your elbows are too far forward can all contribute to back pain.

A lumbar support pillow is a cushion used to support your lower back when sitting in a chair that helps you maintain correct posture so you don’t become tense and have back pain. The extra support also helps relieve tension in the muscles and tendons of the lower back.

Easily attached to your office chair, car seat, or any other chair, these small cushions are shaped to follow your natural spinal curve, providing some extra support and comfort. Using a lumbar support pillow improves the alignment of your spine, neck and shoulders, helping prevent and alleviate lower back pain.

Pros and Cons of Lumbar Support Pillows
  • Supports proper alignment of the spine to alleviate pain.
  • Portable, so they can be used with any chair.
  • Inexpensive alternative to other devices used to alleviate pain.
  • Safer than using painkillers.
  • Not all lumbar support pillows are comfortable.
  • It may take some trial and error to find the correct support pillow.

Different Types of Lumbar Support Pillows

Different types of lumbar support pillows may be appropriate for you, depending on your individual needs.

  • Memory Foam Back Cushion/Pillow: This type of pillow usually attaches to your office chair or other seat and conforms to your spine to provide support.
  • Car Seat Lumbar Pillows: Ergonomically designed to support your back, neck, and head in the car, this type of pillow is often larger than other lumbar support pillows.
  • Seat Cushion and Lumbar Pillow Combination: These are two-piece sets that include a seat cushion (with or without a tailbone cushion) and a separate lumbar cushion that can be used separately or together.
  • Bed Lumbar Cushions: Typically made in a half moon shape, these pillows can be used under the lower back to provide additional support or alignment while lying or sitting in bed. Many of these pillows are multifunctional, and can also be used to support the knees or ankles.

Lumbar support pillows are designed to provide back support, and as such, are ergonomically designed to follow the curve of the spine. The majority of lumbar support pillows are made from high-density memory foam, usually medium to very firm to ensure adequate support. The molded foam pillows typically have removable covers, often made from breathable materials to keep the pillows from getting too hot.

Most lumbar support pillows are between 2-4 inches thick, depending on the firmness of the foam. Because memory foam conforms to your body, thicker pillows won’t necessarily push your torso forward, but will instead cradle your spine for extra support.

Lumbar Support Pillow Care and Maintenance

Most lumbar support pillows are made from memory foam and include a removable cover. Covers are often made from mesh, cotton, or a polyester blend. If your pillow becomes soiled, or the cover absorbs odors, simply remove the cover and follow the manufacturer’s care instructions for machine-washing.

As they are made from memory foam, the pillow inserts themselves should not hold odors or stains. You might notice a slight chemical smell, known as off-gassing. Typically this odor dissipates within a few days or weeks. If you travel with your lumbar support pillow, use a travel bag to protect it from dirt while not in use. Otherwise, you can leave your pillow in your favorite chair when it’s not in use.

What Else Should You Consider When Buying Lumbar Support Pillows?
  • Where do you plan to use your pillow? Some pillows are best for use with office chairs, while others may be more comfortable while traveling or driving.
  • What is your typical body temperature? If you have a tendency to run warm, you might find some memory foam pillows too hot after a time. Look for a pillow with a breathable cover or that stays relatively cool to prevent overheating.
  • What is the return policy? You might need to try several different pillows before finding the right one. Choose a pillow with a good return policy in case it doesn’t work out.

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