Photo by Joseph Barrientos
Do you ever find yourself wincing when you get up out of a chair? Do you dread going to the doctor or the DMV because you know the chairs will be painful to sit in while you wait? Do you find yourself wishing your desk chair had just a little more padding in the seat?
If any of this sounds familiar, you could benefit from a seat cushion. Seat cushions are designed to redistribute your weight and provide you with some extra padding to alleviate pain and keep you more comfortable. Read on to learn more about the benefits of seat cushions and what you need to look for to find the best seat cushion.
WHAT IS A SEAT CUSHION?
Before we dive into how to pick the right seat cushion, let’s talk a little about what a seat cushion is. A seat cushion is a pillow designed to provide an extra level of padding on a chair. You can use these in a desk chair, an armchair at home, your car seat, or even in a chair in a waiting room.
Seat cushions generally can come in a variety of thicknesses, and materials, which we’ll discuss in a moment. They can have a variety of different fillings, though the best ones are memory foam. These cushions also come in a variety of shapes designed to manage different posture issues or health conditions.
BENEFITS OF SEAT CUSHIONS
Many people who have lumbar- and hip-related medical conditions find that seat cushions help them to stay more comfortable throughout the day. People with arthritis or osteoporosis may find that a seat cushion helps to reduce pain. And pregnant people often find that seat cushions make it more comfortable to manage the extra weight they’re carrying.
But even people who are healthy and not pregnant may find that they can enjoy the benefits of seat cushions. These cushions can help to improve your posture and circulation, both of which can help to reduce back pain. Also, once you’re sitting up straight and aren’t distracted by constant pain, you may find you have more energy.
WHAT IS MEMORY FOAM?
Memory foam is a polymer that is formed into a foam structure. The remarkable thing about this material is that as it absorbs body heat, it softens and molds to your shape. There are several types of memory foam, including traditional, shredded, gel-infused, and more.
Traditional memory foam is one solid block cut to shape to fit in your seat cushion cover. Gel-infused memory foam is pumped full of a cooling gel that helps to keep it from holding onto too much body heat. Shredded memory foam fill is made up of thousands of tiny pieces of memory foam which encourage air circulation and keep you cool.
WHY MEMORY FOAM IS BEST
We mentioned that the most remarkable thing about memory foam is its ability to mold to your shape. This feature allows it to provide you with the support you need without placing pressure on certain weight points on the body. This combination of equal give and support has made memory foam a popular choice for pillows, mattresses, and cushions of all varieties.
When it comes to seat cushions, it’s especially important to have the unique molding capabilities of memory foam. On a non-memory foam cushion, all your weight would be resting on your hipbones, which could become uncomfortable or even dangerous if you have osteoporosis or arthritis. But memory foam will sink to mold around your hipbones and evenly distribute your weight across your entire backside.
Seat cushions come in a variety of shapes, depending on what adjustments you need. One of the most common shapes is a variation on a wedge, with most of these cushions having a rounded edge and a flat edge. Which direction you place the wedge in your chair will depend on what sort of posture adjustments you need.
Another common shape for seat cushions is a sort of rounded rectangle. These seat cushions are most popular among wheelchair users, who need a pillow that can more evenly distribute their weight while covering their entire wheelchair seat. There are also several other more specialized shapes, which we’ll discuss in a moment.
Some memory foam seat cushions include contours designed to cradle your thighs. These cushions have two depressions on either side with a slight lift in the middle and on the sides. This helps to position your thighs ergonomically and lift them into the correct position.
Certain seat cushions even have specialized contours designed to address specific posture issues. You can find no-lean pillows that help you to compensate for uneven hips and keep you from leaning to one side while seated. Other cushions have contours designed to fit people who have had one or both legs amputated.
In addition to the basic wedge and rectangle, there are several other seat cushion shapes you can find. In general, these have more specialized uses that are designed to manage certain health conditions. For instance, donut pillows are popular among pregnant people as a way to reduce pressure on the pelvis.
People who need a little extra stability, especially in wheelchairs, can get a seat cushion with a pommel. This has a molded piece that sticks up between the legs and prevents you from sliding off the front of the seat. And you may also find cushions that have cutouts to reduce pressure on your tailbone.
Seat cushions can come with a variety of different exterior cover materials. These materials are usually soft, washable, and solid-color, though you can find covers with fun patterns if you wish. Polyester, nylon, and suede are popular material choices for seat cushion covers.
In some cases, seat cushions may be exposed to various bodily fluids. If you believe there is a chance of this with your seat cushion, be sure to look for an incontinence cover. These covers are designed to be fluid-resistant and easily washable so you won’t have to worry about odors or stains.
When you’re using a seat cushion, the last thing you want is for the pillow to slip off of your chair. It’s also irritating to have to reposition the pillow under you every time you shift positions. Many seat cushion manufacturers have begun including a non-slip base on their seat cushion covers.
A non-slip base on your cover will help your cushion to stick to your seat just a little. This is especially important for people who expect to be using these pillows for extended periods of time and so will be shifting positions quite a bit. A non-slip base ensures that your cushion stays where you put it and that you stay well-seated in your chair.
Whether or not you think you may need an incontinence cover, your cushion is going to see some wear. The cover will get dirty over time, things will get spilled on it, and you won’t want to walk around with a grimy seat cushion. The best seat cushions have removable covers to make washing them easy.
Make sure you check the laundering instructions on your seat cushion cover before you buy. You want to get a cushion with a cover you can just toss in the wash. This will be especially important with a memory foam cushion, since the interior of the pillow shouldn’t be laundered.
INDOOR VS. OUTDOOR USE
The other thing you’ll need to look for in a seat cushion cover is whether it is meant for indoor or outdoor use. Many seat cushions are designed to be used inside and so will have covers made from materials that are only suitable indoors. After all, you don’t want to set a suede seat cover down on a patio chair.
If you’re planning on using your seat cushion outdoors, look for a polyester or nylon cover. Not only will these be more resistant to dirt, wear, and tear, but they’ll also be easier to launder. Incontinence seat covers can also be suitable for outdoor use since they’re already moisture resistant.
You might be surprised to learn that memory foam pillows come in different weights. This primarily has to do with how dense they are; the heavier a pillow is, the firmer it will be. If you want to make sure a cushion gives you maximum support, look for one that’s a little heavier.
However, your seat cushion weight should also depend on how much you plan to transport your pillow. If you plan to bring it to doctor’s appointments and church services with you, a lighter pillow may suit you better. But if you plan on leaving your seat cushion in your car or use it in a wheelchair, an extra pound or two won’t make a difference.
In addition to weight, seat cushions can vary in thickness. Thinner pillows pill provide a lower profile and may be preferable for shorter individuals. The cushion will give you the extra support you need without pulling your feet off the floor, which can put extra strain on your knees.
If you need extra cushioning and support, look for a thicker pillow. Even once the memory foam molds to your shape, there will still be plenty of padding between you and the chair. Combined with the way memory foam redistributes your weight, a thicker seat cushion will make you feel like you’re sitting on top of a cloud.
Some seat cushions may come with long ties attached to them. These are designed to help hold them onto whatever chair you’re using them in. But whether you need ties or not will depend on where you intend to use the cushion, how much stability you need, and whether the cushion has a non-slip base on it.
If you intend to use your seat cushion in a car or a church pew, ties may not be a practical option for your seat cushion. And if you’re getting a pillow with a non-slip base, you may already have all the stability you need. Although, if you’re using your seat cushion in a wheelchair, for example, you may need the extra stability ties provide, especially for long-term use.
One of the big things you will need to consider when choosing a seat cushion is how much stability it provides. This has less to do with how soft a cushion is and more to do with how it moves when you sit down on it. You don’t want a pillow that will collapse as soon as you put any weight on it.
One of the wonderful things about memory foam is that it provides plenty of structure. Because it softens in response to body heat, memory foam will not tilt or collapse under your weight. You’ll have all the softness you need without sacrificing any stability.
FIND THE BEST SEAT CUSHION FOR YOU
When you’re picking out the best seat cushion, there are several factors to consider. You want to make sure your seat cushion addresses your healthcare needs, including providing the right thickness and stability. But it also needs to be easy to care for, lightweight to transport, and suited to your specific lifestyle needs.
If you’d like to find the best comfort tools on the market, check out the rest of our site at Everlasting Comfort. Not only do we offer seat cushions, but we also sell neck pillows, knee pillows, humidifiers, oil diffusers, and more. Shop our collection today to start living the life of comfort that you deserve.