Tried & tested: Back chat

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The Independent Culture
Slouchers may benefit from a little extra help provided by a back support strapped to their chair. The right support can help to alleviate backache caused or exacerbated by holding the spine out of its natural "S" shape for prolonged periods of time. Our panel, headed by osteopath Jeanette Thomson, included testers with varying degrees and types of back pain. Betty Clarke, Iris Worsley, Lorrie Sheehy, Annalisa Barbieri, John Cobb, Helen Wratall and Fiona Sturges considered the versatility, portability, design and effectiveness of six lumbar supports to see where their strengths lay. Back pain is highly individual, and it is recommended that a range of supports be tried to find the one that best suits height, weight, chair-type and particular back requirements. Supports may not be comfortable to start with, as habitually poor seated posture adjusts to the correct alignment

. ERGO SEAT Back 2 pounds 50

Annalisa: `Too big, too ugly and too padded (I had to lower my chair by 2in after installing it). Nondescript, moley colour merged well with drab office furniture, though'

John: `No more support than a normal chair and so bulky you're likely to put your back out lugging it around!'

Jeanette: `So padded that, after adding it to my car seat, my legs couldn't reach the pedals easily, thereby causing back pain'

Back 2 0800 374 604


Posture Products, about pounds 30

Betty: `Good foam quality and comfortable upholstery. Elastic straps weren't secure; the support needed constant readjustment'

Jeanette: `Versatile and portable. Quick relief for an achey back and especially useful for those under 5ft 8in'

Fiona: `Sturdy, comfy and not too ugly. Provided support without forcing me to sit on the edge of my seat'

Posture Products Ltd 0800 328 9673


Putnams pounds 27.99

John: `Pushes right into the lower spine and gives support right the way up the back. Impossible to avoid having a pert, perfect posture'

Jeanette: `Unsuitable for my 5ft 1in frame but suited my 5ft 10in friend, who got immediate relief from backache'

Betty: `Hard, unyielding upholstery, which was only slightly comfortable when used in a car seat'

Putnams 01752 345 678


Tempur pounds 49.95

Betty: `The moulding property of the back rest was very supportive, but there were no clear instructions on how to use the metal bar for height adjustment'

Iris: `Minimal back pain, even during a week of air/coach travel. Extending foot excellent for keeping in position, especially on hard chairs'

Lorrie: `Splendid slouching resistance and lower back support. Addictive and wholly beneficial. Useful when reinvented as a pillow'

Tempur 0181 589 7010


MEDesign pounds 52.25

Annalisa: `Folds in half, so easy to transport. Good for my back, but uncomfortable under my legs. When I took it off I thought how unsupportive my normal chair was'

Fiona: `More like "The Back Foe". Looked like a piece of armour plating and felt like a medieval instrument of torture'

Lorrie: `Took a while to get used to. Didn't push me forward, which was good, but supported my back surprisingly comfortably for something so rock-hard'

MEDesign 01704 542 373


Sissel pounds 21.95

Jeanette: `Reasonable support, but let down by its shoddy, crumpled appearance after 15 minutes of use'

Fiona: `Very comfy, and straightens you up well without making you feel like you're in traction'

Helen: `The only one that works well on an office chair. It hugs the lower back like a warm hand'

Sissel 01422 885 433