Comfort is a priority for everyone in the workplace. Little niggles in our backs, shoulders or necks can leave us distracted, unable to work as effectively as we might like.
The science of ergonomics is working to bring solutions to those who do suffer from pain at work. One such solution is lumbar support. This guide tells you everything you need to know about lumbar support, where you’ll find it and how important it is to the office chairs and other furniture you use in the office.
What is Lumbar Support and How it Works
The term “lumbar” refers to the lower region of your back. It consists of five vertebrae situated between the diaphragm and sacrum (which is attached to your pelvis). Lumbar support represents a part of furniture or furniture attachment that focuses on keeping the lumbar region of the back comfortable.
Throughout the day, our lower backs come under constant strain. Even innocuous tasks like driving your car or working in the office can slowly cause damage to the fragile lumbar regions.
Lumbar support looks to limit the strain put on our lower backs to keep us comfortable in whatever activity we are engaging in. This can be added to office furniture or a car seat in the form of a lumbar support cushion, but today a lot of office furniture is crafted with ergonomics at its heart. Office chairs and other everyday furniture will come with lumbar support built-in.
Lumbar support, be it built-in or as an attachment, is manufactured using breathable, hygienic fabrics. Encouraging airflow and dissipating heat, lumbar supports prevent a build-up of heat in your back that could lead to discomfort and perspiration.
How it Works
The spine has a natural curvature, and lumbar support is predominantly concerned with maintaining this. Without a cushioning of the lower back, people tend to slouch in their chairs. Over time, this causes pain and discomfort and can lead to injuries to the back muscles, nerves, vertebrae or discs.
Lumbar support is specifically designed to maintain the natural curvature of the back, reducing discomfort and minimising the chance of us picking up injuries.
Why Lumbar Support is Important
For every business, keeping your employees healthy and on task is essential to maintaining revenue. From an employee’s perspective, the desire to maintain long-term health is a constant consideration. Lumbar support is one of the best ways in which we can do this in the office.
In 2018, there were an estimated 141.4 million working days lost due to sickness or injury (according to the Office of National Statistics). That’s an average of more than 4 per worker.
While minor illnesses like colds account for the most workplace absences, musculoskeletal problems accounted for 27.8 million absence days throughout the year (19.7% of the overall total). Back pain is likely to represent a significant portion of those injuries.
A 2017 workplace health survey said that sickness-related illnesses cost the UK economy £77.5 billion in that year. Aside from the importance of people’s general health and wellbeing, businesses also need to recognise that ignoring lumbar support will cost them money.
How to Sit with Lumbar Support
Lumbar support is there to maintain the natural curvature of your back. Therefore, as long as you’re already sitting in a sustainable position, you shouldn’t need to make any other changes to the way you sit. However, you should at all times bear these things in mind:
- Sit at the back of your seat to allow the lumbar support to work with your spine
- Sit upright in your chair and don’t slouch. Slouching causes your spine to arch in an unnatural position. Over time it will cause pain
- Keep both feet planted firmly on the floor
- Shift your hips and knees to a right-angle position
- Take regular breaks. We all need to stretch our legs and flex our muscles, so get up and walk around at least every hour
- Try to bring your head, shoulders, and pelvis into alignment. This will maintain the natural inward curvature of your back and ensure your weight is balanced perfectly
Follow the above, and you should be in the best possible position to allow lumbar support to work its magic. In the end, it will leave you comfortable and focused at work.
Use the diagram below to see how you should be positioned in your office chair.
Where to put lumbar support
As we mentioned, your lumbar is situated in the lower back area. Your lumbar support needs to be positioned so it aligns with this area of the back. In an office chair, it will be situated at the bottom of the chair’s backrest and will sit just above your belt line. If you’re adding a lumbar support cushion to your chair, position it in this area.
If you’re unsure, use the diagram below.
How to adjust your lumbar support
For ergonomic office chairs that have lumbar support built-in, adjust the position to ensure it aligns flush with your back.
Most chairs will have a knob situated beneath the chair that activates the lumbar support. Twist the knob in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction and the lumbar support will adjust its position.
Take some time to get the position just right for your individual circumstances. Once in a comfortable position, you’re all set to sit back and use your ergonomic chair for its intended purpose.
Who Needs Lumbar Support
No matter who you are, your body goes through the same subtle pressures from doing every day things like driving your car and sitting down at home or in the office. Without the correct ergonomics in place, the chances of your employees suffering from back complaints will increase.
For anyone in your office who uses an office chair on a regular basis, lumbar support is an absolutely essential way to look after their wellbeing and long-term health.
Modern, effective office chairs come with lumbar support built-in. At Furniture At Work, we have a wide variety of office chairs that are specifically designed for the comfort and contentment of your employees.
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