Pain Free Working

A Complete Guide to Ergonomic Support Pillows & Cushions

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Ergonomic chairs are pricey and don’t make a lot of sense for most, unless you’re redesigning your home office or have been given a budget to decorate your new office. Therefore, the more cost-effective solution would be an ergonomic support pillow.

But before buying the first product that comes your way, go through the guide below to learn everything there is to know about support pillows.

What is an Ergonomic Support Pillow?

There are several categories of support pillows, but the general idea is that an ergonomic support pillow offers back and spine support so that you can sit more comfortably, minus back aches and pains. They prevent you from lounging or slumping, which you normally would do when sitting on a non-supportive surface.

Support pillows are often used in place of ergonomic chairs, as they tend to be budget friendly. Plus, they can be transported and used in a variety of settings.

Some products use memory foam to support the natural curvature of your spine, while others use gel to even out weight distribution. Either way, both aim at addressing musculoskeletal issues for who spend most of their days seated.

Types of Support Pillows

Seat Cushion. This is a support pillow that can be placed on a chair or other surfaces to boost your comfort while sitting. It offers maximum comfort to avoid squeezing the hips, misaligning the pelvis and spine.

Lumbar Support Pillow. Also known as a back rest or lumbar roll, a lumbar support pillow follows the natural curve in your spine to relieve pressure in your back and improve posture.

Seat Cushion and Lumbar Support Pillow Combination. As the name implies, this item combines the two previously mentioned support pillows. Some products have detachable parts, while others are sold as a single piece.

Benefits of Support Pillows

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For an item so small, a support pillow has a huge impact on health, changing the way you work. Check out all the advantages of ergonomic support pillows. It’s more than just about comfort.

Your sitting and natural postures improve

The reason why you often experience pain and fatigue from sitting down too long is because you’re compressing your hips, spine and tailbone (also known as your coccyx). If not corrected, this could lead to muscle, joint and spine problems later on in life. A support pillow redistributes pressure and encourages good posture, and when you spend more time sitting up with the right posture, the more likely your natural posture will also improve. Say goodbye to chronic pain!

It improves circulation

When you compress your coccyx, hips and spine, you cut off blood circulation to your legs and back up to your pelvis and back. Blood flow is important since it brings oxygen to your muscles, which helps to get rid of metabolic wastes that cause pain and fatigue. With a support pillow, you heart doesn’t have to pump as hard to circulate blood. A heart that works too hard is destructive to heart health.

Less digestion issues

Do your frequently experience heartburn or indigestion? A compressed midsection means your disrupting digestion, so without the proper support, you’re more likely to have issues after a big lunch, from constipation to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). But with a support pillow, digestion issues will be kept to a minimum.

More Energy During and After Work

With no pain or digestion issues, there’s not much else to distract you from getting your work done. More energy also means you’re more likely to go to the gym or be out and about after work, rather than grabbing takeout and sitting on the couch bingeing on a new Netflix show.

How to Use a Support Pillow

There’s nothing complicated about using a support pillow, but there are certain things you can do to make the most out ergonomic seats and cushions.

Maintain the right posture

As with any other ergonomic accessory or device, a support pillow only really works if you’re sitting in the proper position.

Firstly, place the seat cushion on your chair. Sit on the seat by sitting as far back into your chair as possible, adjusting the cushion as you see fit. Also, rotate your hips slightly back, and make sure your feet at flat on the ground. You probably have to adjust the height of your chair. Remember to sit up and don’t slouch or cross your legs. It defeats the purpose of having a support pillow in the first place.

For a lumbar support pillow, place it vertically on your chair (and attaching it, if there are straps) so it fits in with the natural curvature of your spine, therefore aligning your hips with your shoulders. It should be just below the curve of your back, and not actually in the part where you’re experiencing pain.

Get up and stretch every half hour

Even though support pillows help with your posture, too much sitting can also counter the pain reduction. Rather than sitting for long periods of time on your newly comfortable seat, go for a walk or stand up and stretch every 30 minutes. This keeps your muscles warm, promoting more blood flow and protecting your muscles and joints from cramping.

It also helps to use a support pillow with a desk riser or sit-stand desk, so as to encourage you to switch between positions in 20 or 30 minute increments.

Use it while driving

Because these support pillows are portable and light, feel free to use them in your car! Sitting in traffic can severely impact your spine and affect blood flow in your legs. Therefore, rather than ruining all the progress you made during the work day, bring your support pillow with you so you don’t come home with a backache and leg cramps.

Wash the pillow regularly

Workstations are prone to germs and bacteria, so normally support pillows are designed using breathable, hypoallergenic and odor resistant materials that are also non-contaminant. For pillows with soft covers, you can stick the covers in the washing machine. And as for support pillows without covers, they should be machine-washable safe. Always wash the pillow or the cover according to the label, and wash weekly.

What to Look for in a Support Pillow

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As with any ergonomic product, there are a few questions to ask yourself before making a purchase. Here are some things to consider when shopping for support pillows:

  • What kind of support do you need? Do you need lumbar support, a seat cushion, or both?
  • Do you have a cold office? Would it be better to purchase a memory foam pillow or cushion instead of a gel one to keep you warm?
  • Do you share your workstation with others? Are you allowed to keep personal items at your workstation? Do you have to bring it back and forth from the office?