Recliner chairs are a popular piece of furniture for relaxing and unwinding after a long day. They allow you to recline back and elevate your legs to a comfortable position. Many people enjoy sitting in recliners to relax, watch TV, read, or even sleep. 

However, some people wonder – is it bad for your back to sit in a recliner? There are differing opinions on whether recliners are good or bad for your back health.

Here are some key considerations when deciding if a recliner is suitable for you:

  • Recliners can support your back if used properly
  • Poor posture or improper use can lead to back pain
  • Look for good lumbar support and adjustability
  • Use pillows or cushions for additional support
  • Take breaks from sitting to stretch and relieve tension
  • Consult a doctor if you suffer from back pain

In this outline, we’ll explore the key factors in determining if sitting in a recliner is bad for your back and how to choose a recliner that provides proper back support.

Sitting in a Recliner and Back Pain

Recliners allow you to sit in a reclined position with your legs elevated. This position can take pressure off your lower back. However, sitting in a recliner too often or improperly can also lead to back issues:

  • Poor posture – Slouching or failing to maintain proper spinal alignment can strain your back muscles.

  • Lack of support – Recliners without adequate lumbar support and cushions do not properly support the lower back.

  • Excessive reclining – Fully reclining too often does not provide optimal back support and can cause strain.

  • Not getting up & moving – Staying in one position for many hours without taking breaks can cause pain and tightness.

So while recliners can help relieve back pain if used properly, incorrect use or poor design can also hurt your back over time.

How Recliners Can Cause Back Pain

There are a few key ways that sitting in a recliner incorrectly or for too long can contribute to back discomfort:

  • Poor spinal alignment – When reclining, the pelvis rotates which can flatten the natural curve of the lower spine. This strains the structures of the back.

  • Weakened muscles – Reclining for long periods leads to inactivity for the muscles supporting the spine. This weakens core muscles needed for good posture.

  • Reduced circulation – Fully reclining reduces circulation to the lower body. This can lead to muscle tension and stiffness.

  • Pressure points – The tailbone and lower back press into the recliner which can irritate tissues. Cushions are needed to prevent this.

  • Difficulty standing – Getting up after long periods in a reclined position can cause back strain and pain.

Tips to Prevent Recliner Back Pain

  • Key is finding a recliner that keeps your whole spine aligned and supported in all positions.

  • Take regular breaks, stretch, and maintain good posture.

  • Use lumbar cushions and pillows for extra lower back support.

  • Avoid fully reclining for long periods – use a moderate recline.

  • Get up and move – take short walks and change positions.

  • Do back exercises – like yoga, to strengthen core muscles.

  • Adjust chair height and leg rest to fit your body.

  • Consult a doctor if you have chronic back issues.

Sitting in a recliner occasionally likely won’t cause harm. But improper use or sitting for too many hours can contribute to pain. Focus on good posture and regular movement to prevent back problems.

Features that Support Back Health

If used properly, a recliner can provide excellent back support and allow you to relax comfortably. The key is choosing a recliner with design features that align your spine and sustain the natural curves of your lower back:

  • Lumbar support – Look for a recliner with an adjustable lumbar mechanism or padded cushion to support the inward curve of your lower back. This prevents slouching.

  • Cushions & pillows – Use extra pillows behind your lower back or under your knees to optimize alignment in a reclined position.

  • Adjustable positions – Choose a recliner that allows you to incrementally adjust the backrest and footrest. Avoid excessive reclining.

  • Ergonomic shape – Seek a chair back that contours to the curve of your spine with cushioning and padding.

  • Head/neck support – Recliners with a headrest prevent the head from tilting back and causing neck strain.

  • Seat height – Adjustable seat height allows you to position chair at optimal level to support hips and knees.

  • Armrests – Provides support as you get in and out of chair to prevent back strain.

  • Sturdy base – Solid base gives stability and prevents rocking as you change positions.

  • High-quality materials – Durable foam, steel frame, and fabrics allow chair to maintain supportive form.

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Back Healthy Recliner Features to Look For:

  • Contoured lumbar support
  • Multiple recline positions
  • Adjustable headrest
  • Seat height adjustment
  • Padded cushions & pillows
  • Study supportive frame
  • Armrests

Focus on these key features when shopping for a recliner optimized to provide exceptional back support and comfort.

Choosing the Right Recliner

Not all recliners are created equal when it comes to back support. The key is finding the right chair that keeps your spine properly aligned as you recline and get up:

  • Test it out – Go to furniture stores and test numerous recliners. Focus on comfort and support.

  • Lumbar support – Ensure recliner has excellent lower back support that fits curve of your spine.

  • Adjustability – Find chair with adjustable positions so you can customize for optimal posture.

  • Cushioning – Recline position should have plush cushions and pillows to relieve pressure points.

  • Seat height – Height of chair should properly align your hips and knees to reduce lower back strain.

  • Size – Choose recliner that fits your body size – don’t sink in too deep.

  • Armrests – Sturdy armrests make getting in and out easier on your back.

  • Recline range – Don’t over-recline. Select chair with varied recline positions.

  • Quality – Ensure recliner frame, foam, and upholstery support back for the long term.

  • Talk to your doctor – If you have chronic back pain, get advice on best recliner features for you.

Tips for Choosing a Back-Healthy Recliner:

  • Shop in-person to test comfort and support levels
  • Look for adjustable lower back support
  • Choose plush cushions and padded armrests
  • Check seat height works for your body
  • Don’t fully recline for long periods
  • Seek advice from doctor for existing back issues

Take time to try different styles and focus on support and quality when choosing a recliner to use for your back health and leisure. With proper posture and positioning, a recliner can allow you to relax without straining your back.

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Using a Recliner Properly

To ensure sitting in your recliner does not hurt your back, it’s important to use proper posture and positioning when sitting and reclining:

  • Maintain alignment – Keep back straight and neck aligned. Avoid slouching or collapsing into chair.

  • Lumbar support – Use adjustable support and cushions to sustain natural curve of your lower back.

  • Get up regularly – Take breaks every 30-60 minutes. Walk around and do some stretches.

  • Avoid over-reclining – Fully reclining flattens the back. Use moderate recline.

  • Adjust positions – Vary your leg elevation and recline angle to reduce strain.

  • Use pillows & cushions – Properly position support cushions for your back, arms and legs.

  • Watch your sitting duration – Limit prolonged sitting to prevent stiffness.

  • Maintain strength – Do exercises to reinforce your core and back muscles.

  • Check your posture – Periodically make sure you’re properly positioned.

  • Listen to your body – If you feel pain, try adjusting or get up.

See also  Which Material Is Good For Recliners?

Proper Recliner Use Tips:

  • Don’t fully recline for long periods
  • Use lumbar cushions and pillows
  • Get up and stretch regularly
  • Adjust positions frequently
  • Maintain good upright posture
  • Do core & back exercises
  • Change positions or stop if you feel pain
  • Limit sitting durations

Using proper posture and changing positions frequently can help you relax in your recliner without straining your back. Listen to warning signs from your body and adjust as needed.


In conclusion, while there may be differing opinions on whether sitting in a recliner is bad for your back, it ultimately comes down to how it is used. When used properly, recliners can provide the necessary support for your back and promote overall comfort. The key is to ensure that the recliner has good lumbar support and adjustability. It is also important to take breaks from sitting and engage in stretching exercises to relieve any potential tension or strain on the back. While sitting in a recliner for an extended period of time may not be ideal, using pillows or cushions for additional support can help mitigate any negative effects. As with any back-related concerns, if you experience persistent back pain or discomfort, it is always advisable to consult a medical professional for personalized advice.


1. How long should I sit in a recliner at one time?

It’s best to limit sitting in a recliner to 30-60 minutes before getting up to stretch and move. Prolonged sitting can stiffen muscles.

2. What is the best recliner position for my back?

Use a moderate recline that doesn’t fully flatten your back and supports your lumbar curve with cushions.

3. Should I sleep in my recliner for my back pain?

Occasional napping can help relax muscles but sleeping overnight in a recliner doesn’t provide full spinal support.

4. How do I get in and out of my recliner without strain?

Use the armrests and backrest when lowering yourself in and push with your arms and legs to stand up smoothly.

5. Will a recliner help my arthritis back pain?

Yes, elevating your legs and supporting your back properly can take pressure off inflamed joints. Use heat pads too.

6. What back exercises can I do while sitting in a recliner?

Seated spinal twists, shoulder rolls, and leg raises can help strengthen your core and back muscles.

7. Can using a recliner too much weaken your back?

Yes, inactivity from prolonged recliner use can weaken core muscles needed for good posture and back health.

8. Is a rocker recliner better for back pain?

For some, gentle rocking motion can relax muscles. But non-rockers allow for more customizable back support.

9. Should I buy a soft or firm recliner for back support?

Look for a chair with firm cushioning but a plush top layer for comfort. Lumbar should be firm.

10. How do I know if my recliner is hurting my back?

If you feel muscle tightness, stiffness, or pain try adjusting position or your recliner may lack proper support.