Two lumbar support pillows
Design by Jackie Cruz

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Do you ever get low back pain after a long drive or sitting at your desk?

If so, you’re not alone: A 2015 study found that the rate of chronic, impairing low back pain more than doubled between 1992 and 2006.

Research has proven that sitting, especially poor sitting posture, is a big contributor to low back pain, whether you’re sitting in a car, at a desk, or in bed.

Since we must sit, we can use pillows that support our low backs to make it more comfortable.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) found that more than 1 in 4 working adults experience low back pain.

As part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NIOSH maintains a detailed website of resources for reducing low back pain in the workplace.

One of the organization’s most comprehensive recommendations is to apply the science of ergonomics.

The NIOSH defines ergonomics as the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population.

In simpler terms, ergonomics uses our knowledge of the body to adjust and customize all working conditions to prevent musculoskeletal disorders and reduce or prevent chronic pain.

The lumbar region is the lower part of your spine, also called the low back or lower back. Prolonged sitting often results in hunching, which reduces the natural curvature of the lumbar spine. This can lead to pain and strain.

“Good back support can be provided by placing pillows under your knees or behind your lower back. It will help you maintain your spine’s curve and reduce pressure on your low back.”

  • Popularity: We seek out products that aren’t only highly reviewed but are also used and loved by hundreds of customers.
  • Clinical research: This piece was conceived based on multiple studies that show the benefits of getting lumbar support from specialty pillows.
  • Company reputation and transparency: We only recommend products from trusted brands. This means they haven’t had any recent recalls and lawsuits.
  • Customer reviews: All products have an average customer rating of at least 4 stars.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $35
  • $$ = $35–$50
  • $$$ = over $50

Best for the car

Purple Back Cushion

  • Price: $$
  • Firmness: medium
  • Size: 15.75 x 9.25 x 2.5 inches (in.)

A variety of pillows and cushions are made by Purple.

The purple back cushion is made of the same grid as the mattresses and is designed to conform to your low back and help provide posture support.

The material is designed to keep you cool. The cover is easy to carry.

It has a 4.3-star rating and a 1-year warranty, based on more than 1,100 customer reviews on the website.

5 percent of reviews are composed of the 1-star ratings. They complain about the cushion being too small or smelling like something.

The purple back cushion is available for purchase online.

Best for people in larger bodies

Dreamer Car Lumbar Support

  • Price: $
  • Firmness: low
  • Size: 20.9 x 16.5 x 5.9 in.

The car lumbar pillow has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon and is a customer favorite.

Larger and longer than most lumbar pillows, this one is built to also help support your upper and middle back. The curved shape is designed to align to your spine, helping promote good posture and relieving muscle tension.

It comes with a cotton cover, a memory foam core, and two straps to keep it attached to your seat.

The manufacturer recommends that you move your seat back 1 to 2 inches.

If you experience any defects, the car pillow will replace or refund you.

Buy the Dreamer Car Lumbar Support online.

Best breathable lumbar support

Coop Home Goods Ventilated Orthopedic Lumbar Cushion

  • Price: $
  • Firmness: high
  • Size: 16 x 16 x 4.25 in.

The charcoal infused memory foam cushion is meant to help reduce the odors that the support pillows can pick up after hours.

Attaching and detaching your pillow is easy with an attached strap.

The firm CertiPUR-US certified memory foam is designed to relieve pressure on your lower back and help your posture. This simple, effective cushion comes with a 100-night trial and 5-year warranty.

Buy Coop Home Goods Ventilated Orthopedic Lumbar Cushion online.

Best for sitting, sleeping, or working in bed

Coop Home Goods Four Position Support Pillow

  • Price: $$
  • Firmness: high
  • Size: 21 x 8 x 5 in.

The memory foam pillow has a foam insert that can be adjusted to your liking.

The pillow is designed to support both your low back and hips. Place it behind your back and lay on it for lumbar support, under your knees to relieve lumbar or hip pressure, between your knees for reduced back pain while lying on your side, or anywhere else your body needs a little support.

The cover is not always on. It is a good choice for traveling. This pillow is CertiPUR-US certified and has a limited warranty.

Buy Coop Home Goods Four Position Support Pillow online.

Best for versatility

Sojoy 3 in 1 Foldable Gel Seat Cushion

  • Price: $$
  • Firmness: high
  • Size: 18.5 x 15 x 2 in.

The Sojoy 3 in 1 foldable Gel Seat is an excellent option that is easy to pack on the go. This cushion is made with memory foam and soft silicone gel to support your tailbone and relieve pressure from your lower back.

It is also great if you are recovering from recent surgeries, injuries, or bruised skin, since it can be folded up and taken anywhere.

Shop Sojoy 3 in 1 foldable Gel Seat Cushion.

Still searching for the right sleep products?

Let us help. Shop our top picks for pillows by condition or sleep position to get the sound sleep you deserve.

Purple Back Cushion Dreamer Car Lumbar Support Coop Home Goods Ventilated Orthopedic Lumbar Cushion Coop Home Goods Four Position Support Pillow Sojoy 3 in 1 Foldable Gel Seat Cushion
Price $$ $ $ $$ $$
Size (in.) 15.75 x 9.25 x 2.5 20.9 x 16.5 x 5.9 16 x 16 x 4.25 21 x 8 x 5 18.5 x 15 x 2
Who it’s best for frequent drivers people in larger bodies people who sit for long periods people who frequently travel people who need support everywhere they go

It is important to find a pillow that is firm and comfortable to support your back. Memory foam is a soft, supportive, and durable material that is used in most lumbar pillows.

You should pick a pillow that has a cover that is machine-washable.

The size and shape of your pillow should be the same for your body to ensure that it can support you where you need it.

You may want to look for a pillow that can be secured to your chair or seat to help hold it in place.

A support pillow can help relieve back pain. The pillow should be curved along the inner curve of the spine to support the lower back. This helps keep the back muscles relaxed.

A support pillow can help to prevent back pain by preventing hunching over. A support pillow can be used to manage and prevent back pain.

You can use pillows to help keep your spine straight. Many people find that using a pillow that supports the back of the neck helps them sleep better at night and wake up feeling rested in the morning.

Depending on your needs and preferences, the type of material that you should look for in a pillow can be different.

The majority of lumbar pillows are made with memory foam. However, some lumbar pillows may also be made using polyurethane foam, latex, or buckwheat.

Here is a closer look at the materials.

  • Memory foam: This type of pillow contours to the shape of your body to reduce tension and support spinal alignment. Though memory foam can be beneficial for back pain, it retains heat more than other materials, which may not be a good fit for everyone.
  • Polyurethane foam: Also known as polyfoam, this material offers moderate contouring and is more affordable than memory foam. However, it’s typically not as durable and is also not as dense.
  • Buckwheat: These pillows are filled with buckwheat hulls and are designed to promote airflow to keep you cool. The firmness and height are adjustable and the hulls distribute evenly to help relieve back pain. Still, the higher price tag and rustling noise that these pillows make may be a deterrent to some.
  • Latex: This material is made from the sap of rubber trees. It’s highly durable and breathable, with moderate contouring to provide extra support for your back. On the other hand, latex pillows can be pricey and may not be as widely available as other types.

You should consider several factors when shopping for a pillow.

  • Firmness: It’s important to find a lumbar pillow that offers a good balance of comfort and support and caters to your personal preferences in terms of firmness.
  • Loft: The loft, or height, of a pillow can range from low to high. Many pillows are available with varying height levels or include removable inserts so you can adjust to fit your needs.
  • Size and shape: Many lumbar pillows are designed to support spinal alignment, improve posture, or reduce tension in your lower back to alleviate pain. It’s also important to find a pillow that’s the right size for your body to ensure it stays in place while you’re using it.
  • Materials: Pillows are made using various materials, so it’s best to determine your preference before you start shopping. You should also look for a pillow with a removable cover that can be easily washed.
  • Price: The price for pillows can vary quite a bit and may depend on multiple factors, including the type of material used. Be sure to evaluate your budget and find a price point that you’re comfortable with to find a pillow that fits your needs.

Back pain can make it harder to fall asleep and could cause sleep disturbances. But, according to one 2020 review, improving the quality of your sleep could lead to less back pain, and vice versa.

If you sit for long periods, using a pillow that is made of soft material can help reduce back pain.

A high quality lumbar pillow can also help reduce tension, provide additional support, promote better posture, and improve spinal alignment, all of which could potentially enhance sleep quality.

Lower back pain can be worsened by your sleeping position.

Sleeping on your back is generally considered the best option if you have lower back pain, as it can reduce lumbar pressure and keep your spine aligned to prevent back problems.

On the other hand, sleeping on your stomach can strain your lower back and spine, which could actually worsen back pain in the long run.

Sleeping in a fetal position can open the space between the vertebrae and help with back pain.

Can lumbar pillows help with back pain?

Over time, the muscles that support your spine — also known as the paraspinal muscles — can begin to fatigue, leading to poor posture.

Lower back pain can be alleviated by decreasing strain on the muscles of the spine, which is why lumbard pillows are designed to support the natural curve of the spine.

How should you use a lumbar pillow?

If you are sitting for long periods, you should use a pillow that is made of a soft material.

It is easy to get additional back support with many pillows that are specifically designed for use in bed, the car, or your office chair.

The small of your low back should be the place to put your pillow.

How firm should a lumbar pillow be?

A firm pillow that is comfortable but also firm enough to support your lower back is a good choice.

The memory foam used in the pillows provides a good amount of cushion but also helps to support the body in a way that is not too restrictive.

How much lumbar support do I need?

Depending on your needs, the amount of support you need depends on your back pain.

If you have mild to moderate back pain, you may only need a small pillow. If you have a serious back condition, you may need a larger pillow that provides constant support.

You may need to experiment with different sizes, shapes and firmness of pillows to find the one that is most comfortable for you.

While back pain is very annoying and very common, there are ways to protect your low back.

Whether you end up supporting your lumbar spine with a high end designer pillow, a giant piece of fake bread, or something in between, remember to take the time to move, stretch, and strengthen your back and body to the extent you’re able.

Ash Fisher is a writer and comedian living with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. When she’s not having a wobbly-baby-deer day, she’s hiking with her corgi, Vincent. She lives in Oakland, California. Learn more about her on her website.