Office Chair with Lumbar Support | Fenstone® Buyers Guide

Office Chair with Lumbar Support Guide


  • Introduction to lumbar support
  • What causes lower back pain in the lumbar region?
  • How to position lumbar support for office chairs
  • Types of lumbar support available
  • Conclusion

Introduction to lumbar support

If you’re looking for an office chair with lumbar support, you’re probably all too familiar with the aches and pains caused by sitting for long hours at your office desk. In the UK alone 12,000,000 sick days are taken each year as a direct result of back pain which I personally find to be a staggering statistic.

Back supporting chairs seek to address the issue of lower back pain by correcting your spinal posture and allowing you to fine tune your seating position via adjustable lumbar support to dial out the discomfort you may be experiencing. This can also be used as a preventative measure for those wishing to protect their spinal health before these issues occur.

Chair for Bad Back Office

Postural support chairs can get expensive very quickly but regardless of how much you spend, if the chair doesn’t fit your body type correctly or the lumbar support is incorrectly positioned you won’t receive the preventative health benefits or pain relief you’re seeking. In this short buyer’s guide we will cover the top things to look out for to ensure you get the right chair for you.

What causes lower back pain in the lumbar region?

Our backs are made up of interlocking bones called vertebrae which are separated by gel like discs. As seen in the image below, the lumbar region of the spine is made up of 5 bones in the lower back (L1 to L5) and it is this region that office chair back support seeks to correctly position.

When we sit for long periods, the gel like discs between the vertebrae compress and without this protective barrier the ligaments move closer together causing stiffness, mobility issues and discomfort.

Spinal Lumbar Support Diagram

This compression is also compounded by slouching in your chair. When correctly positioned, the lumbar region of the spine is curved towards the stomach and this keeps the protective discs in their natural position and working as they should. As you slouch forward, the lower spine is forced to curve towards the back which in turn compounds the effect of disc compression and lower back pain.

This is why it’s essential to ensure the chair you buy corrects your spine into its natural position. If you are experiencing severe discomfort, it is also recommended you seek medical advice or see a chiropractor.

How to position the lumbar support for office chairs

Back Support on Office Chair

So where should lumbar support be positioned? As can be seen in the image above, the back of an ergonomic office chair is designed to mimic the natural curvature of the spine. As you lean back into the chair it will gently force you to sit with a correct posture that will protect your spinal health and keep the ligaments and discs free of unnecessary strain.

Chairs that include adjustable lumbar mechanisms (types covered in the next section) allow you to fine tune your seating position to maximise support in the lumbar region. Ideally, the lumbar support should be adjusted to ensure correct curvature of the lower spine whilst also allowing the chair to bear some of your weight which reduces compression of the ligaments that can cause lower back pain and discomfort.

Top tip for tall people: It is important to note that an ergonomic office chair is typically manufactured to fit people of an average height plus or minus 2 to 3 inches. If you’re particularly tall (above 6 feet 1 as a guide), you’re likely to need a chair with an adjustable back height so you can move it up to align correctly with your spine.

Types of lumbar support available

In this section we will discover the main types of lumbar support available:

  • Fixed
  • Adjustable
  • Dynamic

Fixed Lumbar Support

Fixed Lumbar Support

Starting with the most basic of the options available, fixed lumbar support is normally built into the shape of the chair back with no adjustment available. There is some benefit to this providing you fit perfectly into the chair but without any way to adjust it, this can be a hit and miss affair. The ergonomically shaped chair back can actually put your spine into an unnatural position if you are taller or shorter than the user height the chair was designed for.

Ergonomic benefit: Limited

Adjustable Lumbar Support

Adjustable lumbar support allows you to fine tune the position of the lumbar pad, so the curvature of your spine is better supported and correctly positioned. Typically the adjustments available are height, depth and firmness control and depending on which chair you choose, it may have one or all of these features.

Height adjustable lumbar support

Height Adjustable Lumbar Support

This type of lumbar support will typically offer 2 to 3 inches of upward or downward adjustment, allowing you to precisely position the lumbar pad to support your lower back and create the natural curvature in the spine which helps to prevent injury. Those with a larger build may find they need to position the lumbar pad further up the back so this is a recommended feature in those cases.

Ergonomic benefit: Excellent

Depth Adjustable Lumbar Support

Depth Adjustable Lumbar Support

Depth adjustment will allow the lumbar pad to be moved forwards or backwards allowing you to adjust the amount of curvature created in the lower spine. Women tend to have a greater degree of natural spinal curvature than men, so this feature can increase the ergonomic benefit and help relieve pressure on the ligaments and discs.

Ergonomic benefit: Very good

Firmness Control

Adjustable Firmness Control

Normally controlled via a tension knob or similar, this will increase or decrease the firmness of the seat back. If the lumbar is too soft, it won’t force the spine into its natural position so generally a heavier build will need a firmer seat back.

Ergonomic benefit: Limited as a stand alone feature

Our thoughts on adjustable lumber options: The more you can fine tune the position of the lumbar support, the more accurately you can adjust the chair to your unique body shape. We rate height adjustment as the most important feature, with a combination of height and depth offering the ideal setup. Adjustable firmness on its own is unlikely to have much effect on spinal positioning.

Dynamic Lumbar Support

Dynamic Lumbar Support

Dynamic lumbar support automatically adjusts its depth and firmness based on the user’s weight and offers excellent support. A further benefit is the lumbar pad automatically adjusts its depth and stays in contact with your back if you move forward in your chair keeping your spine correctly positioned for more of the time. If you’re a taller person (6 feet 1 or more as a general guide), be sure to look for a chair with an adjustable back height so you can correctly align the chair back with your spine.

Ergonomic benefit: Excellent


Now you know how to protect your spine from damage and the types of lumbar support available to you, we sincerely hope you make an informed purchase that reduces your back ache and keeps you in good spinal health. As always we welcome your feedback so please feel free to leave a comment below.

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