Recliners allow you to recline and elevate your legs which can help reduce back pain, however sitting for extended periods without proper lumbar support can cause lower back issues like strain on the muscles and spine. While recliners that fit your body and have good support can help avoid problems, those that lack adjustability or don’t fit you well may worsen pain and posture – so consider your height and body type when choosing a recliner. With the right features and proper use like adjusting the reclining angle and taking breaks, recliners can provide comfort without harming your back.

How Recliners Can Cause Back Pain 

Recliners can unfortunately contribute to back pain if not designed or used properly. There are a few key ways that recliners can cause strain and discomfort in your back:

A. Poor lumbar support

  • One of the biggest factors is lack of lumbar support. The lumbar region of your lower back needs support to maintain good posture.

  • Recliners that don’t have adjustable back support can cause you to slouch and curve your spine unnaturally.

  • This places strain on your lower back muscles and spinal ligaments.

  • Sitting in a reclined position without lumbar support for hours puts pressure on the discs and can compress them. This leads to aching and soreness.

  • A recliner that properly supports your lumbar area and lower back can help avoid this. Look for adjustable back cushions or pillows to provide customized lumbar support.

B. Slouching position

  • The reclined position of a recliner can cause you to slouch back if the chair doesn’t fit your body correctly.

  • Slouching for extended periods flattens the natural curve of your spine and strains back muscles.

  • It also causes the shoulders to roll forward and the upper body to hunch over, creating neck, shoulder and upper back pain.

  • Choose a recliner that reclines at the optimal 135-degree reclining angle for your height and body type to avoid slouching.

C. Strain on back muscles and spine

  • Sitting in a poorly-designed recliner places unhealthy strain on your core back muscles and spine.

  • The back muscles have to overly contract to support your reclined posture.

  • The spine also bears extra pressure in a slouched position. This can compress the vertebraediscs and nerves.

  • Over time this excessive muscle and spinal strain can lead to chronic back pain and increased risk of injury.

  • Try choosing a recliner with adjustable positions so you can vary your posture and give your back muscles a break.

D. Reduced blood circulation

  • Reclining for many hours can reduce blood circulation in your lower body.

  • When your feet are elevated but your thighs are compressed, it restricts blood flow back from the legs.

  • This can cause swelling, numbness or tingling in the legs and feet – a condition called edema.

  • Make sure to get up and move around periodically when using your recliner to boost circulation.

  • You can also use the footrest to elevate your legs but avoid compressing thighs to improve blood flow.

Overall, a poorly designed recliner that lacks lumbar and posture support can wreak havoc on your back. Choosing a recliner specifically fitted for your body and rotating through different reclined positions is key to avoiding back problems.

Choosing a Recliner That’s Good For Your Back

With so many options available, it can be tricky to choose a recliner that will properly support your back. Here are some tips for picking out a recliner that’s ergonomic and comfortable:

A. Proper lumbar support

  • Key point is finding a recliner with excellent lumbar support to maintain good posture and avoid lower back pain.

  • Look for a recliner with a backrest that fits the curve of your spine and adjusts to support your lumbar and thoracic regions.

  • The best chairs have movable lumbar segments that you can slide up and down and tilt to fit your back.

  • Pillows or cushions that are adjustable provide great customizable support.

  • Test different reclined positions and make sure your lower back always feels supported.

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B. Adjustable positions

  • Find a recliner with multiple adjustable positions so you can vary your posture throughout the day.

  • Features like independent footrestleg rest and back rest adjustments give you flexibility.

  • Look for positions that allow you to recline to the ideal 135-degree angle for your height.

  • Your knees should be slightly higher than your hips in a reclined position to take pressure off the lower back.

C. Material that conforms to your body

  • Avoid recliners with rigid backrests and seats. Instead choose cushioning that molds to your body shape.

  • Memory foam or contoured padding will support your curves rather than leaving gaps.

  • Softer cushioning reduces pressure points that can cause numbness or pinched nerves.

D. Consider your height and body type

  • Your recliner should fit your body’s dimensions so you can recline comfortably.

  • Taller people need longer seat length and leg rests. Shorter users need less space between the seat and footrest.

  • If you have broad shoulders or hips, ensure the chair and armrests accommodate your frame.

  • Try out seats with different widths and depths to find the right fit.

Choosing a recliner tailored to your body maximizes comfort and spinal support. Prioritize adjustable lumbar support, cushioning, and the right reclining angles. With the proper chair, lounging won’t cost you your back health.

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Using a Recliner Properly

While choosing the right recliner is crucial, how you use it also determines whether it will help or potentially hurt your back. Here are some tips for properly using your recliner:

A. Find proper reclining angle

  • Experiment to find the optimal reclining angle for your body – around 135 degrees is best for most people.

  • In a fully reclined position, your upper body should be at a minor backward incline – not perfectly flat.

  • This takes pressure off your lower back while elevating your legs just above heart level to aid circulation.

  • Avoid reclining too far back, which can flatten the lower spine’s natural lumbar curve.

B. Take breaks and change positions

  • Avoid staying in a reclined position for hours on end without breaks.

  • Get up and walk around for a few minutes periodically to boost blood flow and reduce stiffness.

  • Vary your leg positions – raise/lower the footrest or put feet on floor.

  • Adjust the backrest inclination and lumbar support periodically.

C. Use footrest to elevate legs

  • Use the footrest to lift your legs and take pressure off your lower back.

  • But don’t compress thighs – keep knees slightly higher than hips.

  • Elevating legs improves circulation and helps prevent edema in feet/legs.

  • Change leg positions often – place feet flat on floor or ottoman to vary posture.

D. Add back pillows if needed

  • If you feel gaps between your lower back and the chair, use pillows for extra lumbar support.

  • Small cushions can fill space in the curve of your spine not supported by chair.

  • Adjustable pillows allow you to customize placement and inclination.

  • Monitor your posture – pillows should improve spinal alignment, not make you slouch.

Properly adjusting your recliner’s positions and using supportive pillows prevents slouching and pressure points that can worsen back pain. Remember to get up and move around frequently when relaxing in your recliner as well.

When to Avoid Using a Recliner

While recliners can help alleviate back pain for many, there are certain circumstances where you may want to avoid using a recliner:

A. After back surgery

  • Avoid reclining or use very cautiously after any type of back surgery, like spinal fusion, laminectomy, etc.

  • Reclining too soon could put excessive strain on healing tissues, muscles and vertebrae.

  • Follow your surgeon’s recommendations on reclining – often limited for 6-12 weeks post-op as your back is recovering.

  • Use small pillowscushions or rolls if permitted to maintain proper spinal alignment when sitting.

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B. If you have back pain

  • When experiencing an acute back pain flare-up, avoid reclining which can make muscle spasms and inflammation worse.

  • Sitting upright often feels better when an existing back injury is aggravated.

  • Try a firm, supportive chair until the acute pain episode subsides – then resume limited recliner use.

  • Apply ice packs to ease back muscle soreness before and after sitting to manage flare-ups.

C. Sciatica or nerve issues

  • Reclining is not recommended if you have severe sciatica or compressed spinal nerves.

  • Reclining can make radiating sciatic nerve pain and numbness/tingling worse.

  • Upright positions take pressure off compressed nerve roots – use firm chairs or try standing.

  • See a doctor if you experience worsening leg/hip pain or numbness when reclining.


While recliners offer comforting support much of the time, utilize caution and follow medical guidance if recovering from back surgery or experiencing aggravated symptoms. Prioritize healing during injury flare-ups. VI. Conclusion Recliners are seen as the perfect seating for leisure and relaxation at home, but there are valid worries that recliners could be detrimental for your back health. In reality, recliners can help or hurt your back depending on the design, fit, and how you use them. Ideal recliners should have adjustable lumbar support, cushioning conforming to your body’s curves, and recline at the optimal 135-degree angle to maintain proper posture – poorly designed recliners can strain your back. However, a recliner specifically tailored to your dimensions and customized with pillows can properly align your spine and relieve pressure on your lower back when reclining. Using the footrest also improves blood circulation in your legs as you lounge. So with the right customized fit and support, recliners can allow enjoyable relaxation without compromising your spinal health if used wisely.


1. Are recliners bad for your back? 

Recliners can be bad if they lack proper lumbar support or don’t fit you correctly, but a well-designed recliner with good back support tailored to your dimensions can improve posture and reduce back pain.

2. Why can recliners cause back pain? 

Reasons include poor lumbar support leading to unhealthy spine curvature, reduced blood circulation, compression on discs from slouching, and overall strain from poor posture.

3. How does a recliner help your back? 

Recliners help by allowing you to recline and take pressure off the lower back, elevating legs to improve circulation, providing adjustable lumbar support to align the spine, and enabling posture changes.

4. What features should you look for in a back-friendly recliner? 

Look for customizable lumbar support, cushioning conforming to your body, ability to recline to 135 degrees, adjustable backrest and footrest, and proper dimensions for your height.

5. What’s the best way to sit in a recliner to avoid back pain? 

Tips include finding the optimal reclining angle, using pillows for extra lumbar support, periodically changing positions and adjusting the footrest, and taking breaks to move around.

6. When should you avoid using a recliner? 

Avoid reclining after back surgery, during acute pain flare-ups, or with severe sciatica or nerve issues.

7. Can you sleep in a recliner with back problems?

 You can sleep in a recliner with pillow supports and elevated legs to temporarily relieve pain, but it’s best to sleep in bed and limit recliner sleeping.

8. Are recliners good for lower back pain?

Yes, recliners can relieve lower back pain by improving posture, providing lumbar support, and taking pressure off your spine and discs when reclining.

9. Is a rocker recliner better for your back? 

Rocker recliners allow motion to reduce stiffness but proper fit and lumbar support are most important – rocking alone doesn’t guarantee benefits.

10. Are massage recliners good for back pain? 

Massage recliners can temporarily relieve muscle tension and aches but address underlying support and posture issues – massage isn’t a complete solution.