Recliners are not just for Relaxing – Find out More

Most people use recliners for the comfort and relaxation they provide, such as while watching TV, reading a book, or even taking a nap. But recliners can help more.

Comparing Effects of Sitting Positions

First, a decade old study revealed that long hours of sitting upright in a chair, with the hips at 90-degree angle with the legs, leads to chronic back pain. Indeed, using “positional” Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines researchers examined spinal positioning of three different sitting positions.

  • Slouching forward (such as hunched over a desk or video game console),
  • An upright 90-degree sitting position, and
  • A relaxed sitting position with the back reclined backward while the feet were still on the floor.

They discovered that reclining back 135-degrees, with respect to the legs, placed the least stress on the spine and may reduce the risk of back pain.

Benefits of Reclining

Now, reclining the chair back causes gravity to do the work that helps you, keeping your chest and shoulders open while your neck and chin are upright. In fact, reclined seating allows for the entire spine to lean back against chair support while keeping the hips tilted forward. This means that gravity is no longer pushing an upright spine straight down on top of itself. As a result, there is less stress on the spine. While, the immediate effects may not be noticeable, a reclined position might be saving you from disc, nerve, bone, and muscle breakdown in your back.

So, as the previous studies have shown, the ideal reclining position on the recliner is 135-degrees.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Should I be concerned about sleeping on a recliner?

For a vast majority of folks there are no reasons to be concerned about sleeping on a recliner. However, for some there is a need to take precautions. For example, consult a spine specialist or a doctor if you have chronic back problems, COPD, or other respiratory conditions, heart problems, and circulatory problem.

Can recliners alleviate back pain?

Now, some recliners are specifically designed to reduce back pain. In fact, reclining back the chair automatically reduces weight and pressure on the spine. Furthermore, the elevated footrest raises the legs, which reduces tension on the hips and lower back, as well as improving blood circulation.

However, ensure that the recliner has multiple recline positions which, in turn offers multiple hip angles, so that the recliner can be adjusted according to your needs.

How do you sit in a recliner with lower back pain?

First, find a chair that supports the entirety of your spine, meeting every curve of your back, shoulders, hips, and neck. Next, settle into the middle of the back cushion rather than leaning from side to side. In fact, slightly leaning or turning from the middle of the cushion can exacerbate your pain. Also, it can throw your backs and hips out.

How do you know if the chair protects the lower back?

First and foremost, the curvature of your lower back creates a hollowed space between your back and the chair’s back support. So, without a filler padding (like a towel or pillow), gravity causes the spine to push into that space causing increased pain. Therefore, a chair with a well-shaped back support should bulge out a bit where your lower back can rest in a reclined position. The bulge fills any space between your lower spine and the chair’s lower back cushion.

If you find that your lower back pain is worsening in a recline position, or that you need to add pillows or rolled-up towels under your lower back, then your chair is not giving you enough lower back support. This is common for people who recline back in chairs that have a hollowed-out pad at the bottom of the back support. So, avoid using these chairs.

Can someone recovering from surgery use a recliner?

It depends on the surgery. If you went through any joint replacement surgeries in the hips or back, you should consult with your surgeon. Recliners that are too deep or too soft can pop joint replacements out of place resulting in severe pain and additional surgical intervention.

Are massage recliners useful?

Yes, massage recliners can be extremely useful for persons who struggle with stiff back, back pain, and spasms. However, a recliner’s massage features have little to do with promoting a healthy sitting posture.

For example, you can sit in a massage chair all day and feel great. If, on the other hand, you are positioned incorrectly, there will never be enough massage time to reverse what is happening to your spine. In summary, a reclined sitting position wins over an upright sitting posture any day when it comes to prolonged sitting.

Reclining angles will vary depending on the person and the type of chair. But, pushing the spine back into a well-shaped back support provides instant back relief.

Types of Recliners

  1. Push-back Recliner.First, this is a chair in which you use your back to push against the chair’s back to get the chair reclined. Meanwhile, as the chair’s back moves to a recline position, the footrest moves up to lift the lower legs.
  2. Lift Recliner. Next, lift recliner chairs are good for anyone who has difficulty getting up from a chair to a standing position. In fact, the lift mechanism lifts the chair from a seated position to an upright angled position so the person can easily stand and walk away. Consequently, lift recliners are good for people who have trouble with weak knees, legs, or hips.
  3. Power Recliner.Now, these chairs have a button that causes an electrical motor to recline the chair or adjust the headrest.
  4. Recliners that change to a flat horizontal position.Meanwhile, the back of these chairs can be pushed so that the back, seat, and footrest all are horizontal, thereby enabling you to take a nap.
  5. Rocker Recliner.Because they rock back and forth, rocker recliners are good for those who suffer from insomnia. In fact, these chairs recline on arched tracks that allow them to rock back and forth. Consequently, they are helpful for those who have trouble falling asleep. Also, they are helpful for nursing mothers trying to put baby to sleep.
  6. Glider Recliner.Meanwhile, these chairs move back and forth along a linear path, which can also help nursing mothers put baby to sleep.
  7. Swivel Recliner. Finally, these chairs have a circular base that allows them to swivel left and right. Furthermore, this feature is useful, if, for example, you want to turn your chair to directly face another person you are talking to. Also, these chairs are good if you want to turn your chair to face a window, TV, and so on.


In conclusion, recliners are good for relaxing or taking a nap. Also, they may help relieve back pain, improve blood circulation, and help you recover from long periods of sitting upright or slouching at work or elsewhere.

About Daniel Edison

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