What is Lumbar Support In Ergonomic Office Chairs?

Do you spend most of your time working at a desk?

Have you ever noticed how much your back hurts, or how bad your posture is after a long day? Ergonomics in the workplace is a hot topic, one that we should all be aware of considering that, as a species, we are becoming more and more sedentary.

You may be interested in learning more about lumbar support and how it can protect your spine’s natural curvature while you’re seated.

This article will discuss the following:

  • What lumbar support is, and how it works
  • Different types of lumbar support
  • Who can benefit from lumbar support

Let’s get into it!

What Is Lumbar Support?

woman sitting in office chair

First things first: what is lumbar support?

Lumbar support is any apparatus that supports the lumbar region of your back (lower back) while seated.

This support helps to maintain the natural curve of your spine, improve posture, and prevent the back pain that frequently arises from being seated for long periods.

How Does Lumbar Support Work?

Lumbar support, often found in ergonomic office chairs, targets the lower back region, known as the lumbar spine. The lumbar spine consists of five vertebrae (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral & coccyx) located in the lower part of the back, and it naturally curves inward.

However, prolonged sitting or inadequate support can cause the lumbar spine to flatten or even reverse its curve, leading to poor posture and discomfort.

The primary objective of lumbar support is to maintain the natural curvature of the lower back while seated. It achieves this by providing additional support to the lumbar region, filling in the gap between the lower back and the chair.

The lumbar support feature in ergonomic office chairs typically consists of a contoured cushion or an adjustable mechanism positioned at the base of the backrest.

The Types of Lumbar Support

Fixed Lumbar Support

Fixed lumbar support is generally built into the office chair. It is typically a fixed size and position, and unable to be adjusted.

An office chair with fixed lumbar support will generally be a cheaper office chair. The generic position of the lumbar support may not suit everybody, so you may not receive the full benefits from the lumbar support.

That being said, fixed lumbar support will easily outweigh having no dedicated lumbar support at all. Just bear in mind that not all fixed lumbar supports will fully support you since we’re all different shapes and sizes.

Fixed Lumbar Support Office Chairs from ChairOffice

Adjustable Lumbar Support

Adjustable lumbar (often found in premium ergonomic office chairs) support allows the user to modify built-in settings attached to the chair.

The height, position, and width of the lumbar support can be adjusted to best fit the curvature of your spine, therefore making it more effective than fixed lumbar support.

Some ergonomic office chairs will have a dedicated pump for the lumbar support, so the support your lower back is getting is tailored to you.

Other ergonomic office chairs may only have an adjustable back, which moves up or down to help you get the perfect fit.

Adjustable Lumbar Office Chairs From ChairOffice

Fixed Lumbar Support With Adjustable Back Office Chairs From ChairOffice

External Lumbar Support

External lumbar support is a separate piece of equipment that can be placed between your lower back and the chair to support your spine.

This type of support may be a small pillow or foam insert. It’s extremely adaptable as it can be used with a variety of seats that don’t already come with built-in lumbar support.

There is a huge range of external lumbar supports on the market - again not all of these will suit you personally. A trial and error approach may be needed to find the best option for you.

Why Lumbar Support Is Important

man holding his pack with a pain red spot showing discomfort

Reduces Back Pain

Lumbar support works to reduce back pain by properly aligning and supporting your spine, thus reducing tension in your lower back.

Lacking or improper support for your lower back can cause back pain and spinal disorders over time.

Improves Posture

Proper lumbar support can help to improve your day-to-day posture. Many cases of poor posture are caused by habitual slouching, and this routine can be hard to break without the proper support.

When using lumbar support, your spine is kept in the correct position while seated and your back no longer has to strain to overcompensate for your poor posture. As a result, your posture will naturally improve over time.

It may sound silly, but asking yourself “Am I sitting correctly?”, can help you be mindful of the way you sit at your office desk.

Asking this question of yourself consistently will gradually improve your posture and hopefully alleviate any pains you may have as a result of bad posture.

Prevents Injuries

Chronic slouching, improper posture, and pressure on the spine while seated can lead to a variety of different injuries, chronic back pain, and spinal disorders.

Lumbar support is a good preventive measure to reduce the chance of back injuries caused by a sedentary lifestyle.

According to a report by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2020/2021, an estimated 8.8 million working days were lost in the UK due to work-related musculoskeletal disorders (including back pain). However, this figure includes other musculoskeletal disorders as well, not solely back pain.

Increases Comfort

Lumbar support will help to reduce the stress exerted on your body when seated for long periods. In turn, this will reduce the discomfort you may feel during the workday.

Additionally, an adequately supported spine also helps to prevent and alleviate back pain.

If you’ve been suffering from chronic back and neck soreness, you may be able to reduce or mitigate the discomfort just by properly supporting your back. Be sure to check out our Best Office Chairs for Back Pain.

Enhances Productivity

Chronic pain can be a huge distraction. If your chair isn’t giving your back the right support, the resulting back pain can lead to decreased productivity throughout the day.

Lumbar support can decrease your pain levels and therefore increase your ability to focus on effective work.

How to Sit With Lumbar Support

ergonomic office workstation


It is important to know where to properly place your lumbar support, otherwise, it likely will not have the desired effect.

Lumbar support equipment is designed to fit within the curve of your lower back to prevent your spine from bending unnaturally when seated.

The placement and width of lumbar support vary from person to person, though there are some general guidelines:

  • Lumbar support width is usually between 0.6” and 2”
  • Women generally have a more pronounced spinal curve and will therefore need stronger support
  • For men, the average placement height is 7.5 inches from the base of the seat
  • For women, the average placement height is 5.5 inches from the base of the seat


Outside of fixed supports, there are a few different ways to adjust lumbar support equipment to fit your needs. The main two are height and depth.

As discussed above, everyone’s ideal placement will vary depending on their height and natural spinal curvature.

Most chairs with adjustable lumbar support can be easily personalised by turning a knob on the side of the chair, using the given pump to inflate the lumbar support, or adjust the backrest to suit your spinal curve.

If you currently find it uncomfortable to sit with your lumbar support, you may have placed it incorrectly and will need to adjust it until it fits you properly.

Who Can Benefit From Lumbar Support?

If you tend to sit for long durations and/or have been experiencing back pain, you’ll most likely benefit from lumbar support.

Additionally, if you’ve been suffering from poor posture and want to improve it, the right lumbar support may help you on your journey.

Key Takeaways

To summarise, Lumbar support is used to support the natural spinal curve of the lower back when seated for prolonged periods of time.

There are a few different types of lumbar support, including fixed, adjustable, and external lumbar support.

When used correctly, lumbar support can prevent injuries and chronic back pain while increasing your daily comfort levels.

All in all, if you’re struggling with back pain or poor posture: lumbar support may be a great choice for you!

Lumbar Support Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I use additional lumbar support with my ergonomic office chair?

A: Yes, if your chair's lumbar support does not adequately meet your needs, you can consider using additional lumbar support accessories. There are various options available, such as attachable lumbar cushions, rolls, or pillows, which can be positioned according to your preference to provide extra support and promote better posture.

Q: How do I know if the lumbar support in my ergonomic office chair is properly adjusted?

A: To ensure proper adjustment, the lumbar support should fit snugly into the natural curve of your lower back. When sitting upright, it should fill the gap between your lower back and the chair's backrest without feeling uncomfortable or overly compressed. Experiment with different adjustments until you find a position that feels supportive and comfortable for your lower back.

Q: Can lumbar support completely eliminate lower back pain?

A: While lumbar support is designed to alleviate lower back pain and discomfort, it might not eliminate it entirely. The effectiveness of lumbar support varies from person to person, depending on factors such as the individual's posture, existing conditions, and the chair's design. It is important to combine lumbar support with regular breaks, proper sitting posture, and other ergonomic practices for optimal back health. Alternatively, you can utilise standing desks to switch seamlessly between a standing position and a seated position. Be sure to read our 8 Incredible Benefits of Standing Desks article.

Q: Are ergonomic office chairs with lumbar support expensive?

A: The cost of ergonomic office chairs with lumbar support can vary. While some chairs may be more expensive, there are also affordable options available in the market. The price usually depends on the chair's overall quality, additional features, brand reputation, and materials used in construction. It's essential to find a chair that fits your budget. For recommendations, don't hesitate to call our friendly sales team on 01234 834963 who will be able to find the perfect office chair for you.

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