• My Aching Back

    Or is it my lumbar?

    Recently people have been asking me about the "lumbar" and how the Saddle’s Lumbar Support pillow works.

    The lumbar is a region of your spine made up of five large vertebrae starting at your pelvis. They connect to a fused portion of your spine called the sacrum and end at your rib vertebrae. Back pain occurs normally as we age; in fact 95% of us experience a degeneration of our spine by age 50. This goes for both women and men. The proverbial, "sit-up straight" demand is actually sound advice. Slouching or bad posture is said to lead to back pain, especially while sitting. There is soft tissue (muscles), joints and spine that gets stressed and tighten due to body weight pressure. This tightening and degeneration can evidentially put pressure on your Sciatic nerve as well, which then makes your legs hurt too. I'll talk more about this another time. Back to the back, our lumbar support is designed to gently fill or cradle the small of your back, the lumbar region. The goal is two fold, one to take some of the pressure off of your spine and two, to promote good posture.

    For more on the lumbar region as it pertains to lumbar supports here are a few poignant excerpts from John J. Triano, DC, PhD. in Spine Biomechanics taken from his article in Spine-Health.

    "For many people who work in an office setting, sitting in an office chair without adequate back support can create a great deal of stress on the lower back. This is largely because in the seated position, the lumbosacral discs are loaded three times more than standing, and sitting without back support usually leads to poor posture, which stresses the soft tissues and joints in the spine. For many people, sitting in an office chair either causes or exacerbates lower back pain.

    Part of the problem is that today's lifestyle often includes long periods of sitting—at work, during the commute to and from work, at home watching TV or at the computer, watching kids' soccer games, and so on. And it's in this sitting position that poor postural habits tend to develop— hunching over, slouching in the chair, etc.

    When sitting in an office chair, shifting one's weight forward increases stress on the soft tissue, joints and discs, and this in turn can create muscle tension and pain in the lower back and legs.

    The lower portion of the spine, just above the buttocks, naturally curves inward toward the belly (the lordotic curve). A lumbar back support helps promote good posture by simply filling in the gap between the lumbar spine and the seat, supporting the natural inward curve of the lower back. 

    When sitting in an office chair, a good lumbar back support should be flush against the small of the back. Many portable lumbar back supports are shaped specifically so that one end should be positioned up and the other down. When placed correctly, a lumbar back support should provide the following benefits:

    • Ears, shoulders, and pelvis (hips) are kept in alignment
    • Natural inward curvature of the lower spine is maintained

    It is important that the back be flush, because this is what provides the support for the lower back. Overall, the lumbar back support should keep the spine in a very natural position. It should not overly accentuate the inward curve, nor should it feel unsupported."

    Paolo Roth
    Principal at u-fo
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