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When you are sitting or lying down for long periods, it is incredibly important to have the correct support. Failure to do so could result in back pain and postural problems. An ergonomic seat cushion is the ideal solution but since there are lots of options, what suits one person may not suit another. Our guide on choosing an ergonomic seat cushion tells you everything you need to know to make an informed decision.
Why Use an Ergonomic Seat Cushion?
The use of an ergonomic seat cushion can provide a number of benefits which include:
Sitting for long periods can put pressure on the spine, hips, and tailbone. However, through the use of an ergonomic seat cushion, your weight will be better distributed, and these areas won’t be placed under as much pressure. As a direct result of this, there is less chance of pressure sores, postural issues, and poor circulation.
When you remain in one position for too long, this can result in poor posture owing to compression in the hips and spine. Using an ergonomic seat cushion will encourage your posture into the correct position, lessening the chance of issues.
Have you ever noticed that you wake up with back or neck pain, even after a good night’s sleep? That could be a result of using the wrong cushion which doesn’t support you correctly. Choosing the right type of ergonomic cushion offers better support and directly improves the quality of your sleep. How you sleep will depend on which cushion is best for you.
For side sleepers, a pillow should be placed between the knees as this reduces pressure on the spine.
If you sleep on your back, you should have a support cushion under the knees to relieve pressure in the lower back.
For those that sleep on their front, a support pillow can be placed under the abdomen as this helps to improve breathing which can be otherwise difficult in this position.
Types of Ergonomic Seat Cushions
Since ergonomic seat cushions are designed to support you in different ways, it will come as no surprise that there are different types to meet these varying needs.
Coccyx Seat Cushion
The coccyx, or tailbone, is right at the base of the spine and can be put under a lot of pressure when seated for a long time.
What is a Coccyx Cushion?
A coccyx cushion is designed to reduce pressure on both the tailbone and the spine as well as lifting the hips to improve posture. These cushions have a cutout at the back to aid in this pressure relief. These cushions are designed to better distribute weight while seated which can have a variety of benefits.
What are the Benefits of a Coccyx Cushion?
Relieve Lower Back Pain
If you suffer from lumbar pain as a result of sitting for long periods, a coccyx cushion could help. These cushions not only take pressure off the tailbone but they also encourage the spine back into a more natural position which goes a long way in relieving lower back pain.
Improve Coccyx Pain
As the name may suggest, a coccyx cushion is mainly designed to relieve pain in the coccyx. The cushion has a cutout where the tailbone rests so that the bone is not under constant pressure when seated, which can reduce pain in this area.
Usually, when you sit down, your blood vessels become constricted due to pressure. However, since ergonomic seat cushions are made from memory foam, which doesn’t collapse under pressure, the blood vessels remain open, allowing for better circulation.
Relieve Pain from Sciatica
Sciatica is an incredibly painful condition that can quickly take over your life if it isn’t properly managed. However, something as seemingly simple as a coccyx cushion can relieve much of the pain. These cushions reduce pressure on the hips and improve posture, both of which are important in the treatment of the condition.
Speeds Up Injury Healing Times
An injury to the tailbone can take time to heal, largely because there is always pressure on the area. This pressure can make healing much more difficult, but with a coccyx cushion, pressure is relieved allowing for much faster healing. They’re also ideal for use after childbirth.
How to Use a Coccyx Cushion?
When you buy a coccyx cushion, you should make the most of it as these aids can be used anywhere from home to the office, in the car, and when you are out and about, so make sure you’re consistent in using it.
You should be mindful of choosing the right coccyx cushion to meet your needs. Before committing, try out various sizes and shapes to see what feels most comfortable for you. When you’re happy with your cushion, always use it on a seat with a backrest, as this will further aid in improving your posture.
If you find that you are in a lot of pain then you can pair your coccyx cushion with an ice pack wrapped in a towel. This can be placed wherever you need including in the cutout or at the side of the cushion.
Wedge Seat Cushion
For people who spend a lot of time sitting down, perhaps at the office or when working from home, back pain is a real problem. But through the use of a wedge cushion, you may find some substantial relief.
What is a Wedge Cushion?
A wedge cushion is sometimes referred to as a sitting wedge, and this is a triangular-shaped cushion. The cushion is designed to elevate the hips and improve posture while seated. They’re primarily designed for people that suffer from back pain as they not only alleviate pressure but also reduce pain.
What are the Benefits of a Wedge Cushion?
When you use a wedge cushion, this forces the pelvis into a slightly more tilted position. As a direct result of this, the spine is also moved into a more natural position which can help those who have postural problems.
Relieve Back Pain
Millions of people all over the world struggle with back pain but a wedge cushion could reduce this pain significantly. The design of the cushion means that your weight is more evenly distributed, therefore relieving pressure and pain. Moreover, since the cushions are made from memory foam, they mold to your shape, providing custom pressure relief for your body.
While you might choose a coccyx cushion for coccyx pain, it’s worth noting that a wedge cushion can also come in handy. These cushions can provide some pressure relief for those recovering from childbirth, injuries, and other issues with the tailbone. There are even wedge cushions with a cutout similar to the coccyx cushion we looked at previously.
As we have already discussed, being seated for long periods can affect circulation. But through the use of a wedge cushion, this can be improved by lifting weight off of your blood vessels. Even more interesting is that a wedge cushion can reduce the risk of spider veins which can develop when you sit for long periods. These veins are also known to turn into varicose veins which can be very painful and irritating, not to mention, unsightly.
How to Use a Wedge Cushion?
You should always use your wedge cushion on a firm seat. They aren’t designed to be used on softer seats like an armchair or couch.
You’ll need to make sure that the cushion is placed so that the thicker part of the wedge is at the back of the seat. When you sit down, you will notice immediately how your spine is straighter.
Ring/Donut Seat Cushion
Donut cushions, sometimes called ring cushions, are ideal for people who spend long hours sitting down. They will help to better distribute pressure and improve comfort while seated.
What is a Ring Cushion?
A ring cushion is designed to be used when sitting on a firm, flat surface. As its name suggests, it is a donut shape, and the hole in the cushion is used to relieve pressure, particularly on the tailbone. For people who tend to suffer from a lot of pain or discomfort when seated, a donut pillow is a brilliant solution.
What are the Benefits of a Ring Cushion?
Relief from Hemorrhoid Pain
Haemorrhoids is a condition where the blood vessels around the back passage become inflamed and swollen. This can be a very painful condition and sitting down, even for short periods, can be excruciating. With the hole in the donut cushion, pressure on this area is relieved making sitting more comfortable. In fact, these cushions are so effective for hemorrhoids, that this is one of the main reasons people use them.
Relief from Sciatica
If you suffer from sciatica pain, you will know how uncomfortable this can be. While a donut cushion isn’t going to cure the condition, it can help to reduce pressure and therefore relieve some of your pain.
Childbirth can result in a lot of afterpain, including any tearing of the perineum. When seated, there is a lot of pressure on this area which can slow down healing and be very sore. Using a donut cushion elevates this area off of the hard surface allowing for reduced pain and faster healing.
How to Use a Ring Cushion?
Donut cushions must be inflated prior to use, but it’s important to make sure that you don’t over inflate the cushion as this can make it unstable to sit on.
When sitting on the cushion, you should ensure that your tailbone is over the central hole while your buttocks sit on either side of the pillow. It can help to lean forward slightly to further reduce pressure on the area.
Lumbar Support Cushion
There is evidence to suggest that a lumbar support cushion can help to reduce pressure when seated for a long period of time. For those who have problems with lower back pain, these cushions can be something of a lifesaver.
What is a Lumbar Support Cushion?
Lumbar support cushions are lightweight and portable, so you can use them wherever you go. They are designed to keep the spine in its naturally curved position even when seated therefore promoting correct posture and relieving pain.
They have an ergonomic design that also provides a wealth of other benefits, including improved circulation and decreased muscle fatigue.
What are the Benefits of a Lumbar Support Cushion?
Helps to Relieve Back Pain
Back pain is very common for a lot of people who spend time sitting down. This can come out in many ways, including conditions like sciatica, muscle strain, and even degeneration of the spine. However, when you use a lumbar support cushion, pressure and tension are relieved so you will experience fewer problems with back pain.
Most chairs are not designed to support the natural curve of your spine when seated. Over time, this can cause your posture to become misaligned, which can lead to pain and eventually, problems with being able to carry as much weight on the spine. A lumbar support cushion encourages you to sit in a more natural position, therefore, improving your posture.
Improves Comfort While Seated
When you sit, especially for a long period of time, a lot of pressure is put on your muscles. Moreover, your weight isn’t always evenly distributed, and these things combined mean that you find yourself getting very uncomfortable, very quickly. However, through the use of a lumbar support cushion, weight is more evenly distributed, so your muscles do not become as tired as quickly and won’t feel sore or achy.
How to Use a Lumbar Support Cushion?
When placing your lumbar support cushion onto the chair, you must ensure that it sits flush to the back of the chair and is placed vertically. Some of these cushions come with straps to keep them secured to the chair, which is great if you’re using the cushion in the office, for example.
Some people make the mistake of placing the cushion in a position that feels good against pain in their back, but it’s important not to do this. You should make sure that the cushion touches your lower back. When it’s in the right place, you’ll notice that your hips, shoulders and head are all aligned.
Swivel Seat Cushion
Swivel seat cushions are great for people with limited mobility who may find it hard to get in and out of a car. They have a simple, swiveling design which makes getting in and out of a vehicle much less of a challenge, not to mention far safer.
What is a Swivel Seat Cushion?
A swivel seat cushion is a round, thick cushion designed for use in a car or other vehicle. It is placed onto the seat and, when the person sits on it, they can rotate the cushion around allowing them to enter and exit the vehicle without struggling.
What are the Benefits of a Swivel Seat Cushion?
If you tried to swivel yourself into a car seat without the use of a swivel cushion, you would likely find that there is a lot of friction which can cause soreness. However, these are low friction cushions that allow for a smooth transition into and out of the car.
Reduce the Chance of Injuries
When swiveling into a car seat without an aid like a swivel cushion, this very motion can result in strains and injuries. The simple addition of a swivel seat cushion will allow for a much more fluid and smooth movement, therefore reducing the risk of injury.
While many swivel seat cushions are not designed to be left in place when the car is moving, there are some that are permanent. This improves overall comfort when riding in the car and relieves pressure while seated owing to generous padding and soft materials.
How to Use a Swivel Seat Cushion?
Keep in mind that a swivel seat cushion is not designed to be left permanently in place. Since these cushions do not attach to the seat, they could slide when the car is moving, which could be dangerous. For this reason, you should always remove the cushion after use.
Using the cushion is very simple. Just place it onto the seat and sit down with your legs outside of the car. Then use your own movement to swivel the cushion which will happen smoothly, allowing you to turn and place your legs into the car, facing forwards in your seat.
Wheelchair Seat Cushion
People that use a wheelchair may be seated for long periods throughout the day. Some people will be in a wheelchair permanently, and when incorrect support is given, this can result in pressure sores, pain, and other problems. The simple addition of a wheelchair seat cushion can solve many of these problems.
What is a Wheelchair Seat Cushion?
A wheelchair cushion is designed to be placed in the wheelchair and will prevent the user from sliding out of a natural position as well as giving them proper postural support and pressure relief. One of the primary reasons that people use a wheelchair seat cushion is to prevent the development of pressure sores and ulcers.
However, there are various types of wheelchair cushions to choose from and this is largely based on the type of material they are made from.
- Foam: these cushions are lightweight and friendly on your bank account. They provide a good level of support and comfort but may not last as long since they are known to bottom out more quickly.
- Gel: a gel cushion is ideal for use alongside a foam cushion. These are incredibly stable and offer great weight distribution, therefore relieving pressure. However, you should keep in mind that they are slightly heavier and will need to be kneaded before each use to make them more even.
- Air: air cushions aren’t usually as stable as other types, but they do offer the best pressure relief. Plus, they’re very lightweight. The great thing about them is that you can adjust how firm the cushion is to suit your needs, but you will need to remember to regularly check for leaks and lost pressure.
- Honeycomb: these cushions aren’t ideal for those that need a lot of pressure relief. That said, they are very lightweight and brilliant for people who tend to get hot easily or live in a hotter climate as they’re very breathable.
What are the Benefits of a Wheelchair Seat Cushion?
Pressure Sore Relief
One of the most obvious benefits of using a wheelchair seat cushion is that they help to reduce the risk of pressure sores. These sores typically appear over bony areas such as the base of the spine, hips, knees, ankles, and other areas when too much pressure is applied over time. Through the use of a wheelchair cushion, pressure is reduced and the chance of pressure sores declines.
When you use a wheelchair seat cushion, you are providing your pelvis with much greater stability. As a result of this, you will notice that your balance is improved when using your arms while seated in the wheelchair. Furthermore, your wheelchair cushion will keep the trunk stable which can open the chest and help with breathing and digestion.
When you are sitting in your wheelchair for a long time without a cushion, air circulation is not very good, and this can lead to sweating. As a direct result of this moisture, pressure sores are more likely. However, most wheelchair seat cushions are airy and breathable, reducing moisture and the associated risks.
How to Use a Wheelchair Seat Cushion?
It’s super important to make sure that you correctly place your wheelchair seat cushion to get the most out of the technology and ensure stability and comfort.
Some cushions will come with inserts that must be placed in the correct position. If you are at all unsure, it’s important to ask the question when purchasing your cushion so that you know how to properly use it.
You’ll find that a lot of wheelchair cushions are contoured to fit the shape of the legs so it’s crucial that you place them with these areas facing forwards in the chair for your legs to fit into them.
The cushion will likely have velcro or some sort of non-slip material on the base, so you can easily tell which way up it goes. Do keep in mind that, when washing the cushion cover, you’ll need to remember which way to put it back on.
What to Look for in a Seat Cushion
Since there are so many variations on the ergonomic seat cushion, it can be helpful to know exactly what you’re looking for when buying. Here are some quick tips on choosing the right cushion for you.
Style & Size
When choosing a cushion, one of the most important things is that it fits your chair well. If you are going to be using the cushion on a particular chair, it’s worth taking measurements beforehand to ensure the best fit. Moreover, you should make sure that the cushion isn’t too thick, especially if you’ll be using it in a car, for example and being too bulky can make the cushion more difficult to install.
There are several different types of materials for seat cushions, as we discussed earlier on. If you want something lightweight and that offers good pressure relief and comfort then a memory foam cushion is a great choice. However, since these aren’t as long-lasting, they may not be suitable for intense use. In this case, you might opt for a gel cushion that offers just as much pressure relief but is more durable.
Air-filled cushions are excellent if you need adjustable pressure. Although, it is worth noting that they require more maintenance in terms of checking for leaks and consistently adding or taking away air.
It is essential that your ergonomic cushion offers stability and security but that won’t be the case if it is slipping and sliding all over the place. For this reason, it is essential to look for a cushion that has a non-slip base or can be attached to the chair using velcro, straps, or another method.
It’s worth thinking about the weight of the cushion, especially if you plan to use it in a wheelchair. While cushions with more weight may feel more stable and comfortable, they will add weight to the wheelchair, which can make self-propulsion challenging if you have any strength problems.
You want your cushion to be hygienic, and the easiest way to maintain this is by removing the cover to wash it. For this reason, we would suggest looking for cushions whose cover is removable but also check how it can be washed. Machine washable covers are the most convenient but always check the washing instructions.
If the cover cannot be removed, is it wipeable? Some wipe clean cushions may not be made from porous material, which can decrease their breathability, which is something to think about if you’ll get a lot of use out of the cushion.
You should also consider the type of cover material in terms of comfort. You want something that is soft and comfortable on the skin and won’t cause any friction.