Recliners are a popular type of furniture in the home because they are comfortable, versatile, and can be a great addition to any room’s aesthetic. Many people enjoy being able to lay back in these cushiony seats after a long day at work or while they watch their favorite show. However, there’s a growing concern that these luxurious chairs actually cause back pain, making them counterproductive to your goal of relaxation. The question is: is this myth or fact?
Generally, recliners aren’t bad for your back as long as they provide the proper degree of lumbar support and aren’t sat in for extended periods. The position of the recliner (ex. reclining or upright) can also affect a person’s comfort during use, but for the most part, scientists have deemed these Charis beneficial for several reasons.
In this article, we’re going to debunk the myth that recliners are bad for your back and detail how these chairs can do wonders for comfort and support when used properly. To play devil’s advocate, we’ll also discuss circumstances where recliners might cause back pain and how you can remedy this.
Do Recliners Cause Back Pain?
Most people live fast-paced and strenuous lives where they are constantly putting some degree of mental or physical effort into everything they do. This, combined with the lovely process of aging, can lead to daily aches and pains, particularly in your back, and so, it’s hard to know if the pain you’re experiencing is a toll of daily life or a result of your favorite lounging chair you sit in for hours.
Recliners are usually ergonomically designed for user comfort, which is why they are rarely the cause of back pain. Instead, recliners are highly recommended to improve a person’s posture, increase back support, and reduce pain.
As a tool and a piece of furniture, recliners are good for your back, and this has even been supported by scientific research. That being said, it is possible for these chairs to be physically harmful if the user isn’t sitting in them properly or the chair doesn’t match their physical size and physique.
How Recliners Can Be Good for Your Back
If you have a desk job that requires you to sit for hours on end, or you enjoy a big comfy chair for relaxing at home, you’ve probably looked into getting a recliner (and if you haven’t, you should). These chairs have been proven to benefit users in multiple ways, thanks to their clever design.
Most notably, recliners are good for your back because they help provide necessary lumbar support, improve sitting posture, and allow the user to recline rather than sit upright consistently.
All of these help anyone sitting in a recliner instantly feel more comfortable and allow them to stay seated longer without risk of injury.
Lumbar Support and Posture Correction
There are typically two factors that come into play when considering if something is good or bad for your back: lumbar support and posture correction. The reason recliners are so comfortable and advantageous is because they provide both.
Lumbar support and posture are interconnected, so solving one usually solves the other and reduces or eliminates the risk of back pain. Because the human spine is curved, there is usually a small indent in your lower back where the lumbar spine is located.
So, when you sit flush against a normal chair, there is usually space between the chair back and your lumber because most chairs lack support here. As a result, people tend to overcompensate by slouching, so they have more support. Of course, this means you’ve curved your spine, even more, resulting in back, shoulder, and even neck pain.
A recliner prevents this by providing a substantial cushion, or lumbar support, that allows your back to sit flush against the chair properly. This instantly improves the person’s posture when sitting and makes it easier for them to hold this position for longer periods.
Benefits of Reclining
As indicated by the name, recliners are designed with the ability to recline backward, allowing the users to essentially lay down while seated. This feature is another reason why recliners are one of the best chair types you can use in your daily life.
Scientists have discovered that reclining is the best way to be seated, especially for extended periods. While sitting straight with proper posture is great, most people are so used to slouching that they have difficultly holding the position for a while. This is partially due to a lifetime of slouching, resulting in weak back muscles that can’t hold a pin-straight position.
While you should actively train your body to have better posture, scientists have discovered that reclining at a 135-degree angle is the best biomechanical sitting position possible for comfort and posture.
This allows your body to recline enough to have sufficient support and a straight spine while also being upright enough to conduct deskwork, watch the television, hold a conversation, etc. It’s that sweet spot between sitting and completely laying down.
Researcher Waseem Amir Bashir, MBChB, has even stated that this angle is better than the classic 90-degree angle most people see in chair designs. He’s also stated the importance of a good sitting position as “strain put on the spine and its associated ligaments over time can lead to pain, deformity and chronic illness.” So, if you’re used to sitting uncomfortably in a regular office chair all day, it’s within the best interest of your health to upgrade to a recliner.
How Recliners Can Harm Your Back
Despite everything we’ve stated here, there’s probably still a handful of people who have sworn off recliners because they truly believed the chair was the cause of their back pain. While this might be the case, we argue it isn’t the chair necessarily that’s to blame, but the fact that it was probably misused.
If you’re experiencing back pain from your recliner, the cause is usually a lack of support, sitting at the wrong angle, or overuse of the chair.
Let’s discuss each of these in a little more detail so you can troubleshoot your painful recliner should you be experiencing any of these issues yourself.
Ill-Fitting Lumbar Support
We’ll start with the support point first. Nearly all recliners are designed to have additional cushions or padding where your lower back should be in order to provide necessary lumbar support. That being said, not all recliners are made alike, and not all human physiques are the same. Before you invest in any recliner, you should test it first!
Take two minutes to sit in the chair and see if it provides the support you need and matches your body size and shape. You might find that the lumbar support is too high or doesn’t extend high enough. This will cause back pain over time because it doesn’t suit your needs. While this makes online shopping for a recliner harder, it’s what needs to be done if you want one that won’t cause you pain.
Sitting at the Wrong Angle
We discussed previously that reclining at a 135-degree angle is ideal for sitting at the right angle. If you recline fully in your recliner and constantly crane your neck to see in front of you or strain your spine for hours sitting perfectly straight, you’re more or less causing your own pain by sitting in a poor position.
Overuse of the Chair
Too much of a good thing is always dangerous. While recliners are certainly comfortable and can be beneficial to your posture and back support when used properly, that doesn’t mean you should be sitting in them for 8+ hours a day.
Constantly sitting and reclining is going to put a strain on your body no matter what. If you work a desk job, try to take breaks and walk around instead of remaining seated in your office recliner the whole time, or look into a convertible standing desk so you can swap between positions.
Another point we’d like to make here is that no matter how comfortable your recliner is, it is not a bed! Please don’t make a habit of sleeping here, as it will undoubtedly lead to serious pain, soreness and inhibit your overall quality of sleep.
For the most part, recliners are fantastic chairs to use if you prioritize comfort and posture or are trying to prevent or reduce any back, neck, and shoulder pain. As long as these chairs are used properly and their lumbar support matches your physique, you should have no problem lounging in them for hours. Just remember that overusing or misusing these chairs can lead to some serious health issues over time, so recline wisely.