Office chairs with lumbar support are great for your lower back. However, most lumbar support ingrained into Office chairs come in different shapes and sizes. I’ve dismantled many lumbar support pads to find plain foam, and other lumbar supports are just plain plastic. As a reminder, I would avoid the Ikea Markus chair (as seen in my Ikea Markus review).
However, just because a lumbar support appears a certain way–doesn’t mean that it’s not good for support. In fact, my $942 Steelcase Leap chair has a “plastic” lumbar support. The thing is though that this plastic is hidden behind a layer of highly supportive foam, and the mechanisms to adjust the lumbar support are pretty complex while remaining intuitive. You can even remove the support very quickly and reattach it.
Steelcase Leap V2 Lumbar Support may “look cheap, ” but it works well with the chairs natural heavy density lumbar foam.
So now that you know lumbar supports come in different sizes and shapes, how can you adjust them? What is the right position for lumbar support? Well, in a lot of ways it’s your personal preference, and it varies depending on your height. I see everywhere the basic rule of thumb is to adjust the lumbar support into the “small of your back”, but what the heck does this even mean?
Well, it’s easiest to see where to adjust your lumbar support if we take a look at the actual human spine.
As you can see from this picture, the lumbar region is on the lower back just underneath the rib region. For me, I like to place the lumbar support directly in the middle of this region, so it looks something like this:
In this picture, the girl is using a “lumbar roll” which is a decent add-on if your chair doesn’t already have lumbar support. The reason I have provided this picture is because of the placement of the roll. I don’t necessarily recommend the product, although it does have favorable reviews on Amazon.
She has it in just the right place, even if I would prefer a less obtrusive lumbar support. A lot of time lumbar supports like this can feel like a brick in your back if there isn’t enough give, and I’ve found this to be true with the Herman Miller Aeron‘s lumbar support.
To find your lumbar support sweet spot, find the end point of your ribs, and go a few inches down, then put the lumbar support there. That’s where I’ve had the most success putting and adjusting my lumbar supports through various chairs (including the Steelcase Leap chair).
Or, if your chair has lumbar support and it just can’t “get right” consider just removing it and trying the chair as is!
Sometimes this can work fine especially if the chair’s design is already ergonomic by nature. Just keep in mind that if you haven’t had lumbar support in the past, it can take some getting use to as your muscles adjust to the enhanced pressure and support to stabilize your back.