Article Reviewed & Updated - 8/26/2023
Medical Reviewer: Kari Haberman
How to Support Your Lumbar While Driving
Some cars have built-in, adjustable lumbar support, but chances are, they don't give perfect support to your body frame. If you aren’t comfortable while behind the wheel, muscles will strain, and you will develop poor posture over time.
Everyone is built differently, so finding the perfect lumbar cushion for your stature to add to the car’s support system will help keep you sitting up with your lower back in a healthy curve.
Unfortunately, sitting in the exact same position for a long time can also be difficult, so being able to adjust your back pillow slightly occasionally can help, too.
Why Driving May Cause Lower Back Pain
The longer you drive, the worse your posture becomes, and poor posture leads to lower back pain. When you first get behind the wheel, hopefully, you adjust your seat to reach the pedals and steering wheel comfortably.
It would help prevent back problems if you were sitting up straight with your back firmly against the seatback, which means engaging your abdominal muscles. Unfortunately, after 30 minutes or so, most people begin to change position to relieve muscle fatigue.
Leaning forward or slouching changes the curve of your back and causes muscle strain and pressure on your spine. You can develop muscle pain in your lower back or sciatica pain from herniated discs.
Sciatica pain is caused by the soft discs between vertebrae pressing on a nerve due to poor posture. That pain starts in the lower back and often runs down through your hip and into your leg. The longer your drive, the worse your posture becomes, and the more lower back pain you will have.
🔎Read Related: 8 Ways to Stop Right Leg Pain While Driving
Benefits of Using Lumbar Support in Your Car
By using a lumbar support cushion in your car, you can maintain good posture more easily. With a lumbar support in a car seat, you sit straighter, keep your lower back in a healthy curve, and rely less on your core muscles to maintain good posture.
A support makes it easier to reach the steering wheel comfortably and more difficult to slouch, too. Car seats can get hot and your back uncomfortable on a long drive.
Lumbar supports for a car often allow better airflow to keep you cooler as you drive. The more comfortable you are, the easier it is to sit properly without muscle or spine strain.
Key Features to Look for in a Lumbar Support for Your Car
When purchasing a lumbar support for your car, there are four things to consider:
1) Ventilation - The longer you sit in your car, the more important ventilation becomes.
Some cushions get too hot for comfort after using them for an hour.
Lumbar supports that are breathable and draw heat away from your back will make long drives much more comfortable.
2) Support - The perfect amount of support means you can keep your lower back in a healthy curve without too much effort, but you can adjust your position, too.
The support should be firm enough to support your spine but soft enough to allow movement.
3) Adjustability - Not everyone is built the same, so a lumbar support for the car should be adjustable. Part of the adjustability should be a durable and reliable attachment mechanism to keep it in place.
For example, adjustable belts with buckles often work better than an elastic strap, because over time, the elastic could stretch.
4) Material - Most support cushions are made from memory foam which responds to your body movement but bounces back afterward.
The quality of the foam makes a difference to the amount of support you receive and the cushion’s durability. The outer cover should resist stains, and be washable.
7 Best Lumbar Supports for Car
#1) Dreamer Car Lumbar Support - fills all the space behind your back rather than just your lower lumbar region. Its belts attach at the top around the headrest, and around the seat.
Dreamer Car Lumbar Support Pillow Key Features
• Adjustable in two ways for best fit and maximum comfort. There are two adjustable straps, one to adjust and secure the lumbar support side to side and one to set it at the exact height you need. The vertical adjustment belt hooks around the bars of the headrest.
• Fits your entire back. This cushion is 20.9” high with a thicker dimension, about 5” at your lumbar region, and a thinner cushion, about 1”, for your upper back. The cushion fills the entire space between you and the car seat. The width dimension is 16.5”.
• Removable, breathable cover. The material keeps you from overheating, and the invisible zipper won't scratch you. You can easily remove the cover for machine washing.
• Slow rebound memory foam gives you the support you need to maintain good posture and prevent back pain. The foam is soft enough to feel comfortable.
• Fits any car from a sports car to an SUV and comes in three colors, black, blue, and gray.
The Dreamer Car Lumbar Support Pillow for the Car is great because it cushions your entire back and is adjustable up and down as well as side to side.
The two-strap system helps keep the support where you want it, even as you get in and out of the car. The cover can be removed for washing.
#2) Easy Posture (2 Pack) Firm Lumbar Support Pillow for Car has stylish appeal while providing full back support for mid to lower back pain relief.
• Feel the Difference with a Padded Car Lumbar Support with Double Premium Mesh made just for your comfort.
• Crafted with mesh air flow technology design perfect for car riders, bus or truck drivers, remote workers, office workers, or gamers who sit for long hours
• Adjust Your Arch Support with 2 attached vertical straps. Allowing you to control how much arch support is needed.
• Lightweight & Easy to Transport - Keep one in your car, truck, office chair, recliner, dining or gaming chair. With dimensions of 16.50" x 13.40" (may slightly vary).
Keep the Easy Posture Dual Padded & Mesh Lumbar Support in your car, truck, office chair, or recliner. Its stylish and unique shape supports your entire back and keeps you sitting tall when you drive long distances.
#3) SAMSONITE, Ergonomic Lumbar Support Pillow with 100% Pure Memory Foam - gives your back maximum support. The high-quality memory foam responds to your body so you can move but maintains its shape behind your lower back.
• Quick, easy installation and removal because of the single strap system. The universal single strap is easy to use but keeps the pillow in place well. It's an ideal choice if you want to use it in more than one place.
• The cover is breathable mesh, so you stay comfortable, and it's removable so you can wash it.
• The size is perfect, 13.6”wide, 12.8" high, and 4.1" thick.
• The support itself is 100% high-quality memory foam which provides the perfect balance of comfort and support for long drives without back pain.
• The Samsonite is great for travel because it's easy to install and weighs only .5 lb. You can use it in your car on the way to the airport, take it on the plane, and then install it in your rental car very easily.
The Samsonite Ergonomic Lumbar Support Pillow is great because the high-quality memory foam gives you excellent support and comfort. You can easily install the pillow in most cars and just as easily remove it to use elsewhere.
The simple single-strap system keeps the pad in place without many adjustments.
#4) Easy Posture Lumbar Back Support Mesh for Car Seat (2 Pack) - Non Slip Double Lock Strap Design - is all mesh so it’s the most breathable support. Air flow is at maximum so you can drive for a long time without your back getting hot.
• The triple strap system is adjustable and nonslip. You can use the straps to secure the lumbar support to your car seat in the exact position you need. You even get an extender in case you need it for truck seats.
• The ergonomic design is shaped to keep your spine aligned and your lumbar curved the way it should. Both orthopedic doctors and physical therapists recommend the shape.
• The sturdy frame and cool, all mesh fabric makes the cushion cool but supportive.
• The support cushion is lightweight and easy to transport if you want to use it in the office or home as well as your vehicle.
• The lifetime guarantee makes sure you are happy with the back support for your car.
The Easy Posture Lumbar Back Support is great because of its mesh fabric, which means you stay cool and comfortable, even during long drives.
The strap system works very well to keep the cushion exactly where you want it, and the shape is perfect for keeping your back in a healthy position.
#5) The Original McKenzie Lumbar Roll by OPTP Support for Office Chairs and Car Seats - is in a roll shape which makes it great to use anywhere for lumbar support and can be used for other PT exercises.
• A smaller roll shape makes it ideal for placing it exactly where you need the support. You can also easily remove the roll and take it with you. It attaches to luggage or backpack to take it when you travel.
• You may want support at the waistline or slightly higher depending on your back problem. The single strap system makes it easy to move and adjust up and down so you can change the support as you need to.
• The cover is breathable, non-wrinkling, moisture-wicking material for maximum comfort.
• The support is high-quality foam, and you can choose between standard density and higher density, depending on what you need to be most comfortable.
• The McKenzie roll is a top seller and recommended highly by physical therapists and chiropractors because it’s smaller and easier to place exactly right for your needs.
The Original McKenzie Lumbar Roll is great because of its unique shape. Unlike other supports, the Mckenzie is a roll or bolster shape you can place, so it does the most good.
Everyone is shaped differently, and the small, rounded roll can help no matter your back difficulties. You can also easily take it from place to place and use it for other PT needs.
#6) Niceday Lumbar Support Pillow for Lower Back Pain Relief with Memory Foam - has a unique shape that provides support around the waistline so you sit upright while you drive.
Key Features of Lumbar Support Pillow
• The quality memory foam is combined with bamboo charcoal fibers, so the support pillow retains its shape for a long time.
• The 3-D mesh cover keeps air circulating so your skin stays cool and dry. The cover has a zipper so you can take it off and wash it in the washing machine. The back is suede to help keep it from moving around.
• The unique shape supports the upper, middle, and upper back, and the thickness of the sides wraps around your waist to keep your spine upright and safe.
• The elastic double strap system with a quality buckle allows you to secure the support in place on any car seat.
• The ergonomically shaped back support can be used in the car, office chair, and even easy chairs and couches. Lying on it in bed can relieve back pain.
The Niceday Lumbar Pillow is one of the best lumbar supports for cars, office chairs, and easy chairs. The shape keeps your spine upright and your lower back in a comfortable, healthy curve.
The material holds its shape, and the cover breathes, so you don't get hot on long drives or during long work sessions.
#7) Feagar Lumbar Support Pillow and Back Cushion Ergonomic Design for Back Pain Relief - gives your entire back support. The thick upper part of the cushion helps keep your upper back as comfortable as your lower back.
• Thick, high-density memory foam molded to an ideal ergonomic shape gives your entire back, upper, middle, and lower, the support it needs.
• The bigger size and unique shape give your entire back support in the car, office chair, or gaming chair. Contours are designed to help you sit up straighter with support for your lumbar region.
• The three-layer cover has both soft velvet and breathable mesh for comfort. The layers make the cover more durable, but it's removable for washing in the washing machine or by hand.
• The adjustable, flexible straps with extenders fit any seat from car to plane and bus so that you can use this support anywhere.
• The shape also hugs your waist to prevent slouching while driving or sitting behind a desk. If you should have problems with your upper back, reversing the cushion to give you more support on top can help alleviate pain.
The Fear Lumbar Support Pillow is great because its molded, high-quality memory foam keeps its shape and helps you maintain proper posture while you drive. The cushion can also be used in the office or at home.
The adjustable strap fits most vehicle seats, including buses and planes. The cover is supportive and long-lasting and can be machine washed.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should I take a break from driving?
Experts recommend getting out of your car every two hours to give your lower back a break, even when using a lumbar support in a vehicle.
Getting out and walking around for ten or fifteen minutes will allow you to use different muscle groups and stretch your spine.
Medical professionals also say you shouldn’t drive for more than 8 or 9 hours in a single day, especially if you have certain back conditions.
How high should I position my support cushion?
The cushion should fit into the curve of your lower back. Depending on the size and shape of the pillow, that could mean it rests on the seat or is strapped higher up.
Some cushions have a narrow space at the bottom, allowing room for your lower spine and tailbone.
The cushions that are just shaped to fit your lower back's natural curve must be positioned and secured slightly above the seat. Try different positions until you feel comfortable.
Is it good to have more than one sized pillow for long drives?
If you are preparing to make a marathon drive, consider having a second pillow. Even the lumbar cushions that breathe and pull heat away from the body will eventually become hot and uncomfortable.
If your lumbar support for the car loses its shape with use, it won’t continue to give you proper support.
Replacing it with a fresh, cool pillow, especially one that is slightly different in shape, can help you maintain your posture and keep you from slouching.
There are also pillows that you can turn upside down to give your upper back more support for a while.