This $33 Chair Cushion Is So Comfortable, I Had to Buy a Second One for My Cat
If you’ve been working from home for the past few months, it’s likely that you’ve made a few investments in your new “office,” whether it was a standing desk, a printer, or even a DIY cubicle. For me, the tiny dining room table in my living room has become a major multitasker: From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., it serves as my office desk, conference room table, and lunchtime cafeteria; and at 6:01 p.m., it turns back to a dining table just in time for dinner. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for my body to let me know it wasn’t happy being hunched over in a worn-out dining chair for hours on end.
It started in my back, with an ache I couldn’t quite shake. Then, the soreness radiated to my knees, likely because my chair was doing some less-than-kind things to my hips. It got to the point where stretching and foam rolling every day weren’t cutting it. Investing in cushier dining chairs seemed like an expensive way to alleviate my seating issues, so I began hunting around on Amazon for alternatives. The answer? An under-$40 U-shaped cushion that boasted over 11,000 glowing reviews.
The ergonomic cushion from 5 Stars United promises to “provide [the] additional support you need to maintain good posture and the natural curve of the spine” as you work. It’s made from a durable memory foam and features a removable, washable cover with a nonslip bottom (so it stays in place on even the slipperiest velvet or leather chair). Best of all, its small footprint means I can toss it in the closet when I’m not working, which helps me separate my time “working from home” and simply “being at home” these days.
In fact, there was just one problem: I found that every time I’d get up from my chair to grab a glass of water or move around my apartment, my cat would sneak into the chair and fall asleep within five seconds. Not one to remove a sleeping pet from their nap spot, I decided the solution was to simply buy another, which I could haul out if my first one had been claimed by Olive.
As much as the cushion helped me troubleshoot the pain caused by a worn-out chair seat, there are limits to its efficacy. “A cushion should only be purchased if you’re noticing that the seat of your chair is too hard and you have pain/soreness in your glutes or sacrum,” Dr. Matt Devoe, a doctor of chiropractic medicine in New York City, tells Apartment Therapy.
It turns out that I wasn’t alone in noticing weird aches and pains I hadn’t experienced before, either. “I have definitely been seeing an increase in posture related complaints due to people’s work from home setups, specifically working from a laptop instead of using a desktop monitor,” Dr. Devoe noted.
But he also warns against expecting a single purchase to solve your woes, explaining that cushions like this one “don’t address the underlying issue of the body not being meant to be stationary for extended periods of time.” Whether you’re working from a computer chair, dining chair, or from bed, he says it’s important to make time to move if and when your body allows you to. “When we stay in one position for hours on end, our tissues begin to tire and send pain signals to our brain in an effort to get us to move,” Dr. Devoe explains. “These products may delay the static tissue fatigue for a few more minutes but without movement, you’re right back to where you started without the cushion.”
If pain persists, he recommends focusing on “workstation ergonomics,” such as investing in an adjustable-height monitor or laptop stand and keyboard. As the New York Times noted, there are also adjustable computer stands and other tips for people to make working from bed work for them, which might be particularly helpful for those with chronic illnesses or other disabilities. Above all, Dr. Devoe suggests making an appointment with a physical therapist or chiropractor to troubleshoot your issues and needs.
As for my pillow? It seems my cat might be onto something. Now, when she paws at me in an effort to push me out of the chair and nap, I take that as a cue to stand up and move around for a few minutes. By the time I’ve returned, Olive is fast asleep on her cushion, and I’ve shaken most of the aches out of my legs for a second round of work.