Can You Add Lumbar Support to a Car Seat?
Around one in five people with acute low back pain will develop chronic low back pain within a year. Many of these individuals are employees who drive back and forth from work. If you're one of these workers, you're likely wondering, "Can you add lumbar support to a car seat?"
Yes, you can add lumbar support to a vehicle seat that doesn't have one built into it. Meaning, you can install lumbar back support on not only the driver's seat but also the passengers' seats.
How Can You Add Lumbar Support to a Car Seat?
To add a portable lumbar support system to a car seat, you'd need to remove the seat cover first. After this, you may need to unfasten some plastic clips that attach the fabric to the seat. You can then insert the lumbar support, return the clips, and tuck the seat cover back into its place.
Do note that some aftermarket seat covers now come with lumbar support too. In this case, you only need to replace the factory seat cover with the aftermarket one. These are similar to the portable kind, with some even made to match car interiors.
There are also portable cushions that you can place right behind you, and not in the seat itself. These are supportive foams that can still provide adequate back support.
These cushions can be a great alternative in cases wherein more than one person drives the same car. Not everyone may need lumbar support, while others may need support for the neck or shoulders.
Should You Add Lumbar Support to a Car Seat?
Only a few vehicles, such as the high-end models from BMW, Volvo, or Lexus, have built-in lumbar support.
Most other vehicle makers design their factory vehicle seats to be "one size fits all." Unfortunately, drivers and passengers come in so many different sizes and heights.
As such, factory seats are often non-ergonomic, which is why, to some degree, they can cause back pain. This is especially true for long-distance drivers, including truckers. However, everyday drivers are also at risk of pain as they sit on these uncomfortable seats.
So, if you drive a lot and if you want to correct your posture, then you might want to get lumbar support. You likely meet both conditions, seeing as the average US motorist drives about 13,500 miles a year. Poor posture is also prevalent, especially among those who work a lot on computers.
Effects Of Driving on Your Back
According to AAA, US motorists spend almost an hour driving their vehicles every day. That's on top of the time spent sitting while at home, at work, or in school.
So, how and why exactly does your lower back hurt when driving?
Prolonged sitting can place a lot of stress on the lower back, which can then lead to strains. Back strains, in turn, are among the primary causes of lower back pain. In many cases, they can be debilitating.
When you strain your back, you may find it too painful to move around. Even the most minor activity, such as walking (or even just sitting), can already elicit pain.
Having sciatica can also cause pain while driving or sitting. In this case, the unpleasant sensations may feel like a dull ache, or it can feel like an electric shock. Driving for long periods can also increase the intensity of the pain.
How Poor Posture Affects Your Back
Despite the prevalence of back pain, half of US adults say they don't feel too "concerned" about posture. Poor posture and slouching, however, can cause and even aggravate pain conditions.
For instance, driving with your back hunched over can strain the spinal discs. These discs are fluid-filled cushions found between the vertebrae. They protect the bones from friction and keep them from rubbing together.
When these discs get exposed to excessive strain, they may become "herniated." Herniation occurs when too much pressure on the disc makes it go out of shape. If this happens, the affected disc can also place strain on the spinal cord and nearby nerves.
As a result, you may start to feel back pain and even numbness.
How Can Lumbar Support in Car Seats Help?
Lumbar support for car seats can help by promoting a more natural body position. They do so by pushing the foam into the drivers' backs. The cushion pressing onto their back then encourages motorists to sit up straighter.
Sitting up straighter, in turn, allows the body to achieve a better alignment. It helps reduce the strain placed on the back, especially the lower area. It also relieves the pressure that sitting puts on the spinal discs.
Less Strain on the Neck
Neck pain is also prevalent in the US, affecting 20% to 70% of adults. In many cases, neck pain results from a position that makes the head jut too forward.
As with lower back pain, neck pain also often has to do with excessive strain on the discs. A neck-forward flexed position puts more weight on the discs compared to when the neck is upright. The forward position can place up to 22 more pounds of weight on the discs.
Since lumbar support can keep the body in a more natural position, it can also benefit the upper back and neck. As you drive with a better posture, you can alleviate the unnecessary stress placed on the neck.
Reduced Shoulder Aches
The third most common musculoskeletal pain is shoulder pain. Those who experience neck pain due to bad posture often have shoulder pains too. After all, the neck connects to the shoulder blades via the lone "levator scapulae" muscle.
As such, a poor driving posture that injures the neck can cause pain in the shoulders too. Driving with the shoulders slumped can also increase your risks for shoulder strains.
A lumbar support system can help prevent shoulder aches by promoting better posture. When you sit in a more natural position, you're more likely to allow your shoulders to fall backward. This, in turn, can reduce the strain placed on your shoulder blades and muscles.
Reduced Overall Pain May Help You Drive Safer
According to scientists, pain has a diminishing effect on memory and concentration. For instance, one study showed such effects in 67% of analyzed patients.
Concentration is one thing you don't ever want to lose when you drive. It can mean all the difference between safe driving and getting into a road accident.
A previous study did associate lower back pain with a higher risk for vehicle crashes. Moreover, some types of pain, such as shooting pains, can appear suddenly. They may also be so intense that you may lose focus on the road in front of you.
Seeing as how lumbar support can help ease pain, then it may also help you keep your focus on the road. This, in turn, may help reduce driving and crash risks.
How to Get Lumbar Support for Your Car
If you do decide to purchase lumbar support for your car, take the time to read reviews about them. This may help give you a better idea of which brands offer high-quality and durable cushions.
To help you make the right selection, though, here are some features that you should look for.
The two most crucial qualities to consider is the shape and the depth of the lumbar support cushion. These have the most influence on the amount of support your entire back receives while you drive.
The shape of the cushion affects how the foam aligns with the areas around your spine. It's the extent to which the cushion "hugs" the curve of your back.
The depth, in turn, is the thickest part of the cushion. It affects the degree to which the shape of the foam "hugs" the curve of your back.
On that note, the best lumbar support foam is one that comfortably hugs the curve of your back. It should follow the shape of your back, instead of just touching a part of it.
Adjustability and Attachment
A lumbar support cushion must remain in place as you drive; otherwise, it may cause more pain. This can happen if the foam dislodges and presses onto any other part of your back.
As such, it's vital to choose a lumbar support system that has a secure but adjustable mechanism. It should have a durable and solid attachment feature so that it sticks in place.
Lumbar support cushions should be comfortable yet firm and supportive. They shouldn't be too soft, as this defeats the purpose of promoting proper back alignment.
Many of today's lumbar support devices use memory foam. It's the preferred material, as it tends to follow the natural arch of the back.
Breathability and Ventilation
The compact structure of lumbar support cushions can make them quite hot. This is especially true if you drive for extended periods, with your back covering the foam.
To prevent uncomfortable heat, choose a product that comes with breathable materials. Some cushions use breathable fabrics and mesh constructions, which allow for better ventilation. You should also opt for a foam that wicks moisture or conducts heat away from your body.
Lumbar Support Belts and Braces: An Excellent Alternative or Addition
If you have chronic back pain or poor posture, a lumbar support brace or belt can also help. These are devices that wrap around your waist to help stabilize the back and provide pain relief. Because they are "wearable," you can use them not only as you travel but also while you work or relax.
Unlike cushions for car seats, you can use lumbar support belts and braces for longer periods. Since you're wearing them, you can reap their benefits wherever you go. You also receive longer and better protection from back injuries.
Designed for Longer Use
If you've sustained a back injury, your doctor has likely prescribed the use of a support brace or belt. It's also common for back injury patients to wear these devices for long periods. In this way, lumbar support braces or belts are more advantageous than those used in car seats.
Your doctor may tell you to wear a lumbar support brace or belt all day, but it's best to take it off from time to time. This way, you can also let your body "cool off." Then, after a short period of airing out the device, simply put it back on.
Maintain Proper Posture At All Times
At work, lumbar support braces or belts can help promote better posture. They can serve as a constant reminder for you not to slouch or hunch over your desk. They can also help you maintain proper standing posture so that you can stand more erect.
Secure and Adjustable
Lumbar support braces and belts are also secure while being adjustable. Once you have it around your torso, you can adjust the device to ensure even compression. You can then tighten or loosen it either with straps or a cable system.
Added Heating Elements
Some lumbar support braces also come with self-heating features. These are especially helpful for promoting better circulation and blood flow. Improved circulation, in turn, can further help minimize back pains and aches.
All Day Lumbar Support to Help Your Back Recover Faster
There you have it, the ultimate guide that addresses your question, "Can you add lumbar support to a car seat?" Now that you know, it's time to explore your options and read reviews on the best ones available. Just remember to look for the features discussed in this guide to make sure you get the best one to suit your needs.
Better yet, consider investing in a lumbar support brace or belt that you can wear for longer periods. This way, you can have all-day support for your back and relief from aches and pains.
If you'd like to learn more about braces or belts, feel free to check out our selection of lumbar support devices.