Repetitive strain injuries can become a common occurrence for those of us who spend most of our time seated during the day and do not have the proper support in our backs and buttocks. We also spend a great deal of our time at home seated when we eat or enjoy other passive activities such as watching television or playing a card game. Either way, the fact is that most people spend most of their time seated and it is important to find an appropriate type of support from our furniture, especially during work where we have less control of what is available. Having the proper chair pad or seat cushion can mean the difference between healthy productive labor and a long term painful nuisance.
Why does it matter?
Besides providing support for your backside, taking the strain off the spinal column and its corresponding musculature is vital for heightened circulation, for keeping an anatomically correct stance, minimizing pain, and reducing risk of injuries and malformations. Having the appropriate support for the back and buttocks will also have a positive effect on the rest of our angular movements involving the head, neck, and shoulders.
Types of Chair Pads and Cushions
Typically, three principal types of chair pads or seat cushions are available today:
- Standard Chair Pad or Cushion: Used for pains stemming from sciatica and coccyx trauma or for those who simply find their office chair too uncomfortable. Their size and portability make these pads ideal to use just about anywhere.
- Lumbar Support Pad or Cushion: To assist in spinal neutrality, this type of pad has convexity and is placed in the lower back region of a chair. They are usually held in place with a ‘hook and loop’ mechanism that goes around the chair. It is also highly portable and helps avoid sitting in a slouched position.
- 2-Piece Pads or Cushions: These types of pads support the lumbar region as well as the coccyx. Some of the lumbar supports of 2-piece pads are larger, so as to include the entire back and neck. These 2-piece cushions tend to be larger and bulkier in size but their overall performance is preferred by many. Just like other types of cushions, these are held together by straps and knots around the chair to avoid slippage.
Making the right choice for the best cushion for you is not difficult. In fact, it is a painless and worry-free experience. Having said this, your decision should be based on some logical factors such as fabric type, securement mechanism (Velcro, straps, and ties), comfort, size, portability and even color.
If you are looking for chair cushions primarily for the hours you spend at work, then portability might not be something you necessarily require. Whereas, if you are a globe trotter or would rather have your seat cushion go wherever you may, then the more portable ones could be better options for you. For example, taxi cabs are known to have seat cushions for coccyx support because cab-drivers are sitting and driving around all day. Many taxis use specialized beads on their seat cushion for a massage-like effect; these beads help avoid deep vein thrombosis, a common condition for taxi and truck drivers.
Another factor, material type, is also very important to consider. Synthetic leather for example can be quite easy to keep clean. A few crumbs of food, dust or even liquids can be scooped up or absorbed quite easily since it is not that easy to penetrate synthetic leather. Therefore an office setting could be ideal for synthetic leather.
Conversely, fabric material would require strenuous cleansing since they can easily absorb any spill that might occur.
Size and shape of your desired chair cushion is also a crucial factor when deciding what to purchase. If the cushion is too big or too thick, your legs can become strained and the cushion itself might create more problems than provide solutions. If the curvature of say, a lumbar support cushion is too pronounced, it can lead to unpleasantness and could even be more problematic for your back than no cushion at all. Besides, a seat cushion or pad that is way too big, takes away its portability. A proper ergonomic design is always the first priority.