The 8 Best Lumbar Support Pillows of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

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The Coop Ventilated Orthopedic Lumbar Cushion helps improve posture while still being comfortable enough for everyday use.

<p>Health / Cecily McAndrews</p>

Health / Cecily McAndrews

Most of us know what it's like to experience back pain—that deep achy feeling that persists no matter which way you twist or turn in your seat. In fact, Shelby Harris, PsyD, DBSM, director of sleep health at Sleepopolis explains that about 84% of all adults are impacted by back pain and it can seriously wreak havoc on your quality of life.

The good news is that lumbar support pillows can provide much-needed relief to help us get through the day and sleep better at night. When you sit, your lumbar spine flattens and places pressure on your intervertebral discs, which causes strain to your spine, explains Christopher G. Bise, PT, DPT, PhD, OCS, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Science. But lumbar support pillows help maintain the normal curves of your back while you're seated, which relieves pain and provides support to your spine and muscles. Rahul Shah, MD, a board-certified orthopedic spine and neck surgeon, also notes that lumbar support pillows help you achieve pain-free posture as you sit for long periods throughout the day.

Experts we consulted recommend choosing a lumbar pillow based on factors such as material, shape, and whether or not it has positioning straps for holding the pillow in place. To find the best options available today, members of our team who have lived experience of lower back and neck pain used the most popular lumbar pillows on the market for two weeks and reviewed each option. Here are our top picks based on our experiences.

Coop Home Goods Ventilated Orthopedic Lumbar Cushion

Best Overall

Why We Like It: This memory foam pillow provides medium-to-firm support and helps improve posture while still being comfortable enough for everyday use.

It’s Worth Noting: The positioning straps are excessively long.

The Coop Ventilated Orthopedic Lumbar Cushion is our top pick because it's spine-supportive, comfortable, and high quality. This medium-firmness pillow follows the natural curve of the spine for ultimate comfort.

Our favorite thing about this pillow is that it encourages straighter sitting and better posture while you work, and it’s still comfortable enough for all-day, everyday use. We found that this pillow helped us avoid pain completely by keeping our spine and neck in a neutral position.

However, the strap length is a potential drawback. The straps seem to be for a much larger and wider office chair than the standard chair we used in our test, and it didn't always keep the pillow in place, even when on the tightest setting. This wasn't a problem at all while we sat, but it did mean the pillow fell forward in the chair every time we stood up. We think that's a pretty minor inconvenience considering how must pain relief we experience with this pillow though.

Price at time of publication: $35

Product Details: 

  • Shape: Rounded square

  • Material: Memory foam

  • Positioning Straps: Yes

Samsonite Ergonomic Lumbar Support Pillow

Best for Posture

Why We Like It: This pillow stays in place and offers consistent support throughout the day for reduced back tightness and discomfort.

It’s Worth Noting: It's pretty thick, so it may not be great for tall people looking to use it in their car.

Memory foam makes this Samsonite Ergonomic Lumbar Support Pillow a strong choice for people with posture-specific concerns as it has just the right amount of firmness. Plus, memory foam contours to your back and spine, which we felt made it extremely comfortable. It also has a single wrap-around strap to hold it in place so the pillow doesn’t have to be adjusted often.

We noticed a major improvement in our posture when using this pillow, and noticed we felt more relaxed and less tight at the end of each day. The benefits are also cumulative, meaning we experienced significantly improved levels of lower back tightness and discomfort over time. Moreover, the pillow keeps its shape and support over time, making it a great value.

To care for this lumbar pillow, simply wipe it down. The fabric is durable, and we had no issues with fabric pilling or stretching. The only potential downfall is that its thickness could pose a problem for anyone who is super tall and wants to use it in their car. This is because the thickness may push you too close to your dashboard and pedals. However, if you're not looking to use this in your car, or you're not above-average height, you can't go wrong with this pillow.

Price at time of publication: $30

Product Details: 

  • Shape: Rounded edge rectangle

  • Material: Memory foam

  • Positioning Straps: Yes

ComfiLife Lumbar Support Memory Foam Pillow

Best for Pain Relief

Why We Like It: Its wedge-shaped design makes it easy to use in multiple positions so you can relieve pain no matter where or how you're seated.

It’s Worth Noting: The different design of this pillow does take some getting used to.

We love the ComfiLife Lumbar Support Memory Foam Pillow for its wedge-shaped arch, which we found extremely comfortable and beneficial for relieving back muscle tightness and pain. While we tested, we found that we could use the unique arch in multiple positions and felt the natural curve of our spine was supported no matter what angle we ended up on.

The pillow also stays in place with minor positioning strap adjustments. It sits comfortably along the whole lower back. During testing, we noticed improved posture, relaxed back muscles, and significantly reduced tightness and discomfort.

This pillow is also considered great quality for the price, with no loose threads, frays, rips, or tears noted during testing. After multiple uses, this pillow kept its shape, and support and the memory foam stayed firm and comfortable. Care is easy with a simple wipe down of the pillow insert or the durable fabric cover.

Price at time of publication: $28

Product Details:

  • Shape: Rectangle with arch

  • Material: Memory foam

  • Positioning Straps: Yes

Sunday Citizen Snug Lumbar Pillow

Best for Sleep

Why We Like It: You can use it in comfy chairs or in bed to help get a better night’s rest.

It’s Worth Noting: Because of its sleeper style, this lumbar pillow is longer than options that are intended for chairs.

This isn’t your ordinary memory foam lumbar pillow. The Sunday Citizen Snug Lumbar Support Pillow is longer than your standard office chair lumbar pillow to support you in bed and ease you to sleep. Due to its larger size, the pillow arrives vacuum-sealed, so Sunday Citizen recommends throwing it in the dryer for a few minutes to fluff it and help it expand.

When we tried this one ourselves, we were pleased with how this pillow helped to relieve pain by adding some support and pressure to the lower back even when on couches and chairs. We felt like we were getting a lot more support from the pillow in chairs where we would normally slouch. Not to mention, it definitely helped with lower back strain and tightness that we'd normally get from sitting or slouching for long periods.

And while it comes with a higher price tag than most, we believe the quality is superior to others. There were no loose threads or frayed edges in sight; the cover was soft and cozy; and the pillow held its shape for the testing period without any reshaping or fluffing necessary. You can machine wash the cover on cold and spot-clean the memory foam insert.

Price at time of publication: $85

Product Details:

  • Shape: Rounded edge rectangle

  • Material: Memory foam

  • Positioning Straps: No

Desk Jockey Lumbar Support Pillow

Best Value

Why We Like It: It's an affordable option for providing back support while sitting in chairs.

It’s Worth Noting: We struggled to keep this pillow in place on our office chair.

This lumbar support pillow works well as a cost-conscious option. When we tried it out, the Desk Jockey Lumbar Support Pillow provided the right amount of firmness and comfort for everyday lower back support. The pillow also held its shape and firmness despite everyday use.

It's worth noting that although it gave us support and relief while were seated, it didn’t seem to make any overall improvement over time.  And despite being high quality, the elastic bands weren’t a great fit for our office chair. Because our chair is rounded with an opening in the back, the pillow constantly slipped and fell into the opening. If it had some type of gripper, we think it would be much better suited for modern-looking desk chairs.

On a positive note, the straps maintained their stretchiness and didn’t fray or rip. We also didn’t notice any loose threads or fabric pilling during any of our extensive testing.

Price at time of publication: $35

Product Details:

  • Shape: Rounded square

  • Material: Memory foam

  • Positioning Straps: Yes

Sojoy 3 in 1 Foldable Gel Seat Cushion

Best for the Car

Why We Like It: It’s a 3-in-1 with a grip bottom, making it versatile enough to be used with ease and comfort pretty much anywhere, including the car.

It’s Worth Noting: This multi-use option takes some time to adjust to, especially if you’re new to lumbar pillows.

The 3-in-1 foldable gel seat memory foam cushion from Sojoy offers durable versatility so you can find your exact sweet spot position—even in the car. The thick cushion consists of two parts that can be used alone or combined via velcro in various ways. The portability is also a nice feature, and we noted it is easy to transport from the office chair to the car, or even use on a train or plane. The grip bottom ensures it stays in place on any surface.

Based on our experience, you should plan on easing into using this pillow in the car by starting with shorter time periods and then increasing the time over the course of a week. Once you get used to the firmness, it keeps you more aligned. Easing in for about a week can help your body adjust to using the pillow and cut down on posture-correcting pain.

After the first week of use, we noted increased comfort and improved sitting posture, especially in the car. The pillow also comes with a thin carrying strap that didn’t fray during testing. Spot cleaning is easy because the cover is made of synthetic rubber material.

Price at time of publication: $49

Product Details:

  • Shape: Rounded rectangle

  • Material: Memory foam

  • Positioning Straps: No

Coushy Ergonomic Back Relief Cushion

Best for Sciatica

Why We Like It: It offers upper back support due to its full-coverage design.

It’s Worth Noting: This is a bulky option not well-suited for travel, cushioned chairs, or cars.

The Coushy Ergonomic Back Relief Cushion is great for people with sciatica because its firmness and full coverage encourage less slouching and better spinal alignment. The looping strap and additional strap help the pillow stay in place and make readjusting the pillow unnecessary.

After testing, we noticed a serious reduction in lower back discomfort and overall back pain. While the pillow is firm to the touch, it softens when you lean against it and conforms to your back over time.

Even after using the pillow every day for about a month, the quality of the pillow remained high. There were no loose threads or frayed edges, and we noticed the pillow still looked and felt brand new. And while this product is too bulky to put into a washing machine, we felt like it was easy enough to spot clean with a wipe or paper towel.

Price at time of publication: $83

Product Details:

  • Shape: Chair-shaped square

  • Material: Memory foam

  • Positioning Straps: Yes

Tempur-Pedic LumbarCushion Travel Pillow

Best for Travel

Why We Like It: It’s suitable for long road trips.

It’s Worth Noting: This pillow doesn’t have any straps or gripped areas to help it stay securely in place.

Firm yet soft, this memory foam lumbar back support cushion pillow from Tempur-Pedic is strap-free, so it can be quickly packed up for your next adventure. It can be used in the lumbar area or higher up on the back (mid-back), depending on your preferences. Even without a strap, the pillow doesn’t slip around or fall down throughout the day. The slightly convex shape also adds to the spinal support, and the benefits can be felt throughout the whole back up to the shoulders.

When we tested this pillow, it definitely forced us to sit straighter and prevented us from falling into our natural tendency to hunch or slouch.

At the end of the testing period, no fabric fraying or loose threads were found, and the smooth stretchy material covering the pillow was perfectly intact. The pillow held its shape and still bounced back almost immediately after compression.

Overall, we feel like this pillow is above average quality as the lack of straps or grip bottom didn’t interfere with its functionality while we tested. And while the foam pillow cannot be washed, the cover can be. We attempted a machine-wash gentle cycle instead of the recommended hand washing, and no discoloration, pilling, or shrinkage occurred.

Price at time of publication: $59

Product Details:

  • Shape: Rectangle

  • Material: Memory foam

  • Positioning Straps: No

Our Testing Process

To determine the best lumbar pillow, we first spoke with several experts, including a neck and spine surgeon and a behavioral sleep specialist. Experts we spoke to include:

  • Christopher G. Bise, PT, DPT, PhD, OCS, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Science.

  • Shelby Harris, PsyD, DBSM, director of sleep health at Sleepopolis.

  • Rahul Shah, MD, board-certified orthopedic spine and neck surgeon.

  • George Cyril, MD, FAAPMR, assistant attending Physiatrist at Hospital for Special Surgery in the Department of Physiatry.

We learned what’s most important in choosing the right lumbar pillow. Experts recommend choosing your first or next lumbar pillow based on specifications like the material it's made of, whether or not it has positioning straps to help hold the pillow in place, and the overall shape of the pillow.

With this background information, we tested the most popular pillows on the market that met expert criteria. We analyzed each pillow's quality and design, used the lumbar support pillows either sitting or lying down for at least 30 minutes at a time, and continued using the lumbar pillow at least five times throughout the two-week testing period to see how each pillow held up over time.

What to Know About Lumbar Support Pillows

Experts say when choosing the right lumbar support pillow, a few things to consider include intended use, materials, overall quality and durability, and shape (form and firmness), as well as care (machine wash, hand wash, etc.).

Most lumbar support pillows are made from high-density memory foam, which is known to trap heat and may feel hot to some people. If this sounds like you, Dr. Harris suggests looking for a lumbar support pillow made from poly foam or memory foam infused with copper or cooling gel.

Lastly, make sure to take measurements of where you plan to use your lumbar support pillow to ensure you find one that will fit comfortably.

Dr. Shah says pillows that are not immediately comfortable are not likely to be a good fit, because it’s rare to break in a pillow. You should also expect an adjustment period when you try a new pillow.

This is why it’s a good idea to take your time choosing a pillow. Dr. Bise adds that you should avoid the brands that claim to “cure” your pain. “Lumbar pillows can help decrease the onset of pain or decrease existing pain, but they aren’t a cure for pain,” he says.

More Lumbar Support Pillows to Consider

While these pillows didn't fully meet our expectations, they may still be of interest to you.

  • Everlasting Comfort Lumbar Support Pillow: This pillow is also firm but not too hard, so it offers ideal posture-improving support. Everlasting Comfort Lumbar Support Pillow straps make it easily adjustable for the proper fit to the chair. We noticed the pillow held its shape and firmness over time and provided spinal support, but only minor pain relief.

  • Qutool Lumbar Support Pillow: The Qutool Lumbar Support Pillow provides consistent spinal support and is held securely in place with a large loop strap and grip bottom. However, the high-quality pillow is possibly too firm and large in size in our opinion. Also, the cover is not removable for easy cleaning.

  • OPTP The Original McKenzie Lumbar Roll: The Original McKenzie Lumbar Roll from OPTP offers significant spinal support that resulted in reduced back pain and tension and improved posture. However, the pillow is softer than others and compresses, causing it to lose its shape after about 10 minutes of use.

Your Questions, Answered

Are lumbar support pillows helpful?

Yes, lumbar support pillows are helpful. According to Dr. Shah, lumbar support pillows can help to “ease muscle tension and can work to help some folks with back pain.” Dr. Bise adds that lumbar support pillows can help with back pain in both the short and long term by maintaining the spinal curves in sitting positions.

Where can lumbar support pillows be used?

“Lumbar support pillows are most commonly used on car seats, office chairs, and recliners to help relieve back pain and provide additional support to the back and spine while sitting,” says Dr. Harris. Basically, you can use your support pillow wherever you feel you need most support, whether that’s working long hours at the office, or unwinding on the sofa at the end of the day.

What lumbar support materials are best?

Lumbar support pillow covers can be made from pretty much any material, from soft and stretchy synthetic rubber to soft and plush fabric. The materials play a role in how comfortable the pillow is, as well as overall durability and how well the shape will keep over time with repeated use. 

Who We Are

Michelle Pugle, MA, MHFA, is a health journalist, author, eating disorder recovery and suicide prevention speaker with degrees in Women’s Studies and Feminist Research, Sociology, and English. Michelle lives with the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia and uses a lumbar support pillow in her office chair while working to help reduce lower back strain and tension and improve overall posture.

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Read the original article on Health.