What Is a Lumbar Pillow?

February 19, 2022 | Casper Editorial Team

When your back isn’t given the support it needs, more than a few minutes spent in any chair, bed, or sofa can bring on all the pain. The solution you need? A lumbar pillow, also known as a back pillow, is a type of supportive cushion uniquely designed to keep your back as upstanding as your admirable work ethic.

Ahead, we’ll discover all the ways a lumbar pillow can help support and soothe your spine, so you can get back to enjoying life. 

Both soft and supportive, the Backrest Pillow offers you comfort whether you’re resting or relaxing.

What Are Lumbar Pillows Used For?

To understand the uses for lumbar pillows, let’s build a backbone of knowledge by starting with some spine science. Your spine has several natural curves that form an “S” shape. These curves can be divided into three main sections:

  • Cervical (your neck)
  • Thoracic (your upper back)
  • Lumbar (your lower back)

When you sit slouched or hunched over for long periods of time, it puts more stress on your lumbar spine or lower back, leading to muscle strain, fatigue, and ultimately, the ever-dreaded lower back pain. 

So, what is a lumbar pillow used for? These clever cushions are designed to support your lower back and assist with pain relief. Such support is proven to help ease tension, relax your muscles, and improve your posture. 2Using a lumbar pillow is usually a cinch, but there are a few tricks to ensure you get everlasting comfort out of yours.

pregnant woman leaning on back pillow and reading

How to Use a Lumbar Pillow

Now that we’ve covered the question of what is a lumbar pillow, you may already be imagining the pain relief you could be enjoying. To get you on your way to feeling better even faster, use the following tips to make the lumbar pillow an effortless addition to your daily routine.

Lumbar Pillows for Chairs

If you’re planning on using your lumbar pillow as a seat cushion in a chair, getting the placement right is key. To get your pillow in the right position to best support your spine, follow these steps:

  1. Place your pillow at the bottom lower half of your chair.
  1. Take a seat with your back resting against your pillow. The pillow should fit the natural contours of your lower back.
  1. Straighten your back and sit up tall. If you feel any unnatural pressure or discomfort, you may need to readjust your pillow.

Tips for Seated Lumbar Pillows

Still getting settled in? Here are a few tips to make using your lumbar pillow even more painless:

  • Get the right placement – If you have trouble getting your lumbar pillow to stay in the right place, try sitting down first and then sliding it in behind you to get it in the perfect spot.
  • Sit with good posture – You could technically use a lumbar pillow and still slip into your usual slouch, but sitting with good posture is key to getting the most out of your lumbar support. When sitting, your feet should be flat on the floor, your shoulders should be relaxed, and your head and neck should be in an upright, neutral position over your torso.3 
  • Be consistent – For best results, make a habit of using your lumbar pillow whenever you sit for long periods of time, and keep one handy in places where you spend most of your time seated. You can follow the same steps as above when using a lumbar pillow in your car. 

Lumbar Pillows for Sleeping

Although lumbar pillows are most often thought of in seated situations, they can be a splendid source of comfort when it’s time to snooze. Here’s how to use your lumbar pillow to support your back during sleep:

  1. Lay down flat on your back. Slide a small lumbar pillow under your lower back to support the lumbar spine, just as you would in a chair. 
  1. When sleeping, you can also achieve better spinal alignment by using the lumbar pillow for your head and neck. A slightly larger, softer lumbar pillow, such as the Casper Backrest Pillow, is optimal for this type of use. Simply use it as you would any other pillow.
  1. A third option is to use your lumbar pillow to elevate your legs, which can help align your spine more evenly with your mattress. For this method, place your lumbar pillow just beneath your knees.

If you follow these guidelines, you’re sure to see some sweet relief for your spine. The benefits don’t end there, however. As it turns out, using a lumbar pillow can also prop up your well-being in a few other ways.

woman sitting on bed reading a book

Benefits of Lumbar Pillows

It’s clear at this point that there are plenty of lumbar pillow benefits for those who suffer from lower back pain. But are lumbar support pillows good for other reasons, too? It turns out what’s good for your spine is good for the rest of your body. Lumbar pillow benefits can include: 

  • Better concentration and productivity – While a lumbar pillow can’t fix those pesky spreadsheet formulas for you, you’re sure to glide through them with one less thing on your mind. If your daily grind involves a lot of chair time, a happier back is certain to improve your focus. 
  • An even smoother slumber Perhaps your inadequate daytime seating keeps you up at night, or maybe you need a little more spinal support in bed. Either way, consistently giving your back quality support is certain to give you superior sleep.
  • Better digestion – Back-breaking posture can lead to some serious stomach-churning. How? Slouching creates pressure on your midsection. This means that even if you feel fantastic after returning from a delicious lunch, returning to your regular hunched position isn’t going to do you any favors. Sitting up straight can improve digestion and help you evade heartburn.4
  • Better breathing and circulation – Sit or stand up as tall as you can and take a deep breath. As you’ll see, breathing is a breeze with good posture — and there’s even more proof. A study on the effects of different sitting postures found that those who sat with good posture had improved respiratory function, compared to those who sat in a slumped position.5
  • Improved posture everywhere – You probably know the feeling of standing up, only to reach behind you to cradle your troublesome back. Our bodies contort themselves in even further ways to compensate for the pain they feel. When you solve your seated slouch, the resulting bliss of your back is also likely to produce even better posture when standing. 

How to Choose a Lumbar Pillow

Are you dreaming of a better back already? The future of a fancy-free spine awaits you. Before you head out to get your hands on a lumbar pillow, here are a few things to keep in mind: 

  1. Try out different shapes for different spaces – Lumbar pillows come in different shapes and pillow sizes. You may want a more contoured pillow for your office chair or a smaller pillow for use in the car. The Casper Backrest Pillow comes in an ergonomic teardrop design, making it a superb choice for resting and relaxing.
  1. Check for durability – Since you’ll be using your lumbar support pillow often, it’s important to find one that will stand up to a little wear and tear. Check to see what kind of outer layer the pillow uses, if it will stand up to repeated use, and if the cover can be removed when it’s time to give it a wash.
  1. See what firmness works for you – While a thin layer of soft cushion may still feel heavenly against your aching back, a pillow without enough firmness won’t help the issue in the long term. For an optimal outcome, you’ll want to find a pillow with the right balance of comfort and support. The Backrest Pillow from Casper features a supportive inner foam layer and a soft fiber outer layer to give you all-over comfort.

For some, choosing the right lumbar pillow could mean finding one that matches their home aesthetic. For others, it may necessitate purchasing more than one to keep them in multiple places. Ultimately, when choosing the right lumbar support pillow, the most important thing is to choose the one you’ll enjoy using often.

Choose Sensational Support with Casper

If you’re convinced that low back pain is an unavoidable part of living, we’re here to tell you it doesn’t have to be. Instead of having to grimace every time you sit, stand, or sleep, give your spine the support it needs with a lumbar pillow.

At Casper, we believe you shouldn’t settle for less — and that your time spent at rest should make the rest of your day feel just as dreamy. That’s why, aside from our ergonomic Backrest Pillow, we’ve developed several innovative types of pillows that give you both softness and support.

After all, when your back is happy, you can give more attention to the beautiful world around you — both in the real world and in your dreams.

Sources: 

  1. Cleveland Clinic. Spine Structure & Function. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10040-spine-structure-and-function 
  2. PubMed. The effect of a lumbar support pillow on lumbar posture and comfort during a prolonged seated task. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3766244/ 
  3. Mayo Clinic. Good posture tips. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/multimedia/back-pain/sls-20076817?s=5 
  4. Harvard Health. 3 surprising risks of poor posture. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/3-surprising-risks-of-poor-posture 
  5. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Effect of Different Sitting Postures on Lung Capacity, Expiratory Flow, and Lumbar Lordosis. https://www.archives-pmr.org/article/S0003-9993(05)01472-3/fulltext