Where is the Lumbar Support ?

I have been doing a fair bit of travelling this week – 4 plane rides and the better part of 10 hours of driving (6 of them in a rental car).  I am reminded that it feels like automobile and plane manufacturers appear to put more efforts into the ergonomics of the production line rather than the ergonomics of the seats!

I am writing this blog while sitting in an economy class Embraer 190 seat.  It feels a lot like all the other aircraft seats I have sat in recently – a backrest that is too short (I am 5’ 10”) with a shape that looks like the imprint a car tire makes in the snow when it spins out.  It is caved in just where I need it to be pushed out – right in my low back.  If you are flying regularly, you might already carry a neck pillow.  It might be time to invest in a nice lumbar support or ask for a travel pillow to put between your low back and the seat.  It will make a world of difference to how you feel when you arrive back on terra firma.

Of course, vehicle seats vary greatly but I rarely find one that provides enough adjustment for me to sit comfortably.  As with your flights, a lumbar pad will come in handy to help supplement any lumbar support provided by the vehicle seat.  If you are like me and struggle to position the headrest comfortably in newer vehicles, then you should have a read of my related post on headrest standards to understand why most new vehicles are forcing your head forward.

I find my back doesn’t travel well between the reduction in exercise from the long days, the awkward handling of bags and the extended periods of sitting in uncomfortable plane and vehicles seats.  My best defense is to supplement my seat lumbar support and to make sure I do some simple stretches and stabilization exercises when I have a few spare minutes.  You can check out a couple examples of practical exercises in our ‘Free Stuff’ section (http://ergorisk.com/freestuff/).

About Rob Fontaine

Rob works with a wide range of clients providing ergonomic evaluations, safe movement coaching as well as advice on integrating ergonomics into successful safety processes.

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