Ease back pain when sitting with an inflatable lumbar support.

Inflatable lumbar support cushions are an excellent way to relieve back pain when sitting for long periods when you are out and about. If you use a lumbar roll or support at the office or at home it can be difficult to carry with you as they are bulky. Often you need something smaller and lighter and probably a bit more discreet.

Lower back pain with prolonged sitting is very widespread and is one of the most common complaints I hear. Often the cause can be tracked back to sitting for long periods with inadequate low back support. This causes the spine to be held in a position of flexion for long periods. For short periods this is perfectly alright, sitting will not harm you. However, a long period on one position causes the ligaments at the back of the spine to gradually lengthen, a phenomena called creep. This may eventually lead to soreness.

The key is to support the lower back when sitting and see if it improves your comfort.

Another key point is that it is not just office chairs that cause this, often if we go out the chairs available lack basic lumbar support. If you have struggled with lower back pain on long flights or car journeys, while at the movies or a concert or even out for dinner, then an inflatable lumbar support cushion may help you out.

There is a range of great inflatable lumbar support supports that you can take everywhere with you from the restaurant to the movies. So if you want to avoid that dreadful gradual build up of soreness that starts after sitting a while sitting these may help.

inflatable lumbar support cushion

This *Back Booster 1001 Inflatable Lumbar Support Cushion looks very good. Designed to support the lower back it is robust and folds neatly away. Its advantages are its size; the extra height means it may be more comfortable for someone who prefers a taller support. It is easy to inflate and the good thing is that you can adjust the amount of air so can make it firmer or softer. I think the shape of it probably makes it suitable as a car seat lumbar support where there is already a small built in lumbar curve.
McKenzie Lumbar roll

McKenzie lumbar rolls are my favourite lower back supports, I own an ancient roll that I have had for nearly twenty years. I'm really pleased to see this * McKenzie Self-Inflating Lumbar Roll on offer.

They are very simple rolls that sit in the small of your back at your belt line and can be carried anywhere with you. This self-inflating roll is a good bet.

The disadvantage of the McKenzie lumbar rolls are that they are no good if the chair has a big gap between the back of the seat and the chair back – the roll can fall out. In that instance the larger inflatable lumbar support above is probably better.

Bear in mind that one size does not fit all, we all have different depth lumbar curves, called lordosis, some may prefer a firm roll, others a softer more mouldable one.

The chair you are using it in will make a big difference.

  • If it is very saggy you will need a bulkier support
  • if it has some degree of support already built in you will need a thinner lumbar roll

Aside from portability the distinct advantage to having an inflatable lumbar support is that you can put more or less air in to accommodate these different situations.

You will probably end up with several different ones scattered about in different places.

I have written a page about regular lumbar support cushions that has a lot of information about why your back hurts with prolonged sitting and how a lumbar roll can help. I have also included some more tips for using these rolls and cushions and keeping your spine fit.


1. Khan, M. & Siddiqui, M. Prevalence of low back pain in computer users. Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences 21, 159-163 (2005).

2. Solomonow, M., Zhou, B., Baratta, R.V. & Burger, E. Biomechanics and electromyography of a cumulative lumbar disorder: response to static flexion. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon) 18, 890-898 (2003).

3. Hedman, T.P. & Fernie, G.R. Mechanical response of the lumbar spine to seated postural loads. Spine 22, 734-743 (1997).

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