Are Recliners Bad For Your Back?

Picture this: you thought a recliner was the best place to relax and unwind, so you decided to take a nap in it. However, when you stood up, a feeling of strain came from your back. Then you may be wondering, “are recliners bad for your back?”

Simply put, recliner chairs are not bad for your back, but it depends on which kind of chair you use and how you sit in a recliner. We will shed some light on these questions in this post. Keep reading!

Is sitting in a recliner bad for your back?

As we said, the recliner is not bad for your back. On the contrary, a good recliner helps relieve back pains. 

A study conducted by Waseem Amir Bashi in 2006 showed that a 135-degree body-thigh sitting posture is the best biomechanical posture. He said that we are not created to sit for hours, but our lives ask us to do so.

Compared to a 90-degree and slouch posture, a 135-degree puts less strain on the spinal and muscles, reducing the chances of developing back pain.

Which kind of chair can help you to achieve a 135-degree posture? The recliner comes in handy. Most recliners can recline to 135 degrees, whether it is a manual or electric model.

Instead of sitting in an upright wooden chair, sitting in a recliner chair could relieve the pressure on your lower back which is good for your health.

How Do Recliners Help Back Pain?

In this section, we want to show you how a good recliner chair can help you relieve back pain exactly. 

When we sit in a 90-degree, our spine is compressed by gravity. We have to sit upright for a few hours a day for most of us, making our spine and the associated muscle quite tired. It also reduces the secretion of synovial fluid and leads the spine bones to collapse into each other.

When you sit in a recliner, you can set the chair into a reclining position to decrease the pressure on the spine. 

Some power recliners can let you lay in a zero-gravity position. As the name of this position suggests, it makes you feel like in space, and your body will run away from the control of gravity. This position is excellent for back pain relief as it gives your back a chance to take a break and encourages recovery.

If you are going to buy or have a massage recliner chair, it could alleviate the tension on the back further. The heat pad offers users heat therapy, which boosts blood circulation, and the massage vibrating nodes take away the muscle strains.

Can sit in a recliner cause back pain?

back pain
Back pain

It may seem contradictory, but yes, sitting in a recliner can cause back pain in certain circumstances. An ideal recliner for you should be able to accommodate the curve of your back, meaning that there is no hollowed space between your back and back support.

This space will increase the pressure in your lower back by gravity. In fact, the recliner back doesn’t provide support for your back. If you spend a long time in it, it will cause permanent damage to your bone and muscle.

For those who find the recliner can’t support you well, you can opt for adding an extra lumbar pillow to fill the gap to avoid the development of pains.

Check our recommendation of the best recliners for back pain.

There are other factors that relate to your overall sitting experience. At first, your knees should comfortably bend at a 90-degree angle and your feet should rest flat on the ground. Then the head should rest on the headrest without any extension forward. If not, there is some good headrest pillow available in the market.

Another part worth checking out is the neck support. Make sure the neck is aligned with the spine and feel no tension while resting your head on the back.

How should I sit in a recliner with lower back pain

As unfortunate it may be, you may have suffered from lower back pain already. Actually, one-half of working Americans think they have back pains and 80% of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives. 

It is important to find a relatively “firm recliner” so that it can support your body well and will hold the shape in the long run. 

When you sit in the chair, ensure you are sitting in the middle. This prevents too much compression on either side of your spinal cord. It is also good for your hip and knees. To lean back and let your lumbar part get close to the lumbar cushion of the chair without leaving any gap.

Sleeping in a recliner for lower back pain

If you feel bending forward helps to relieve back pain, then sleeping in a recliner could be beneficial for you. 

Not only is easier to get in and out from a power recliner chair, but your back feels more relaxed compared to sitting in an upright chair. What’s why some people after back surgery decide to sleep in a recliner. In addition, some pregnant women also choose to sleep in a recliner.

However,  you should consult your doctor before making this decision especially when you have any other health issues.

Wrapping Up

Sitting in a recliner is not bad for your back, but sitting in the wrong recliner could cause back pain.

A suitable recliner can provide good support to your entire body and is able to fit the natural curve of your spine. When you sit in a reclined position, the compression on the spinal cord decreases, and your back pain will be relieved.

If the chair can achieve a zero-gravity position, it could bring you a moment of deep relaxation.

Therefore, a recliner is good for your back to some extent. Pregnant women and patients after back surgery often sleep in a recliner because it is easier to enter and exit when compared to sleeping in a bed.

Photo of author
Rachelle is the founder of Best Chair Finder. She is a fanatic of home improvement, and as an engineer, she knows well about each chair's mechanism. You can find her story on the About page.