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Is sitting in a recliner bad for you?/your hip, back, legs, circulation

You can find reclining chairs (or recliners) in many furniture stores or online, and even in medical appliance stores. My advice to you is to buy one that you have tried out for comfort and choose one from a good and well-known manufacturer.

Recliners allow the back and neck rest to lean back, while the leg rest lifts to support the lower half of your body. Some recliners are spring-loaded, only requiring the user to operate a lever and lean backward. While others are fully powered using an electric motor.

Whichever one you decide to buy, you need to follow some simple rules to get the most out of it and avoid any unwanted medical problems.

Is it bad to sleep in a recliner every night?

The simple answer is “Yes”. There are two main reasons why you should be wary of sleeping in a recliner every night.

  1. If you sit in one during the day to watch television or read, and then sleep in it during the night, you’ll miss out on basic exercise, even if it’s a short walk from armchair to bed.
  2. Recliners don’t allow you to move in your sleep. Adjusting your position in bed prevents staying in the same position and developing pressure sores. If you stay in a recliner for most of your waking life, you might develop pressure sores because you aren’t moving. The simple instruction is that you shouldn’t stay there at night. Also, get up and walk around and exercise every hour or so.

RELATED: Tips on how to improve walking in seniors

Probably, there won’t be any harm in sleeping through until morning now and again, as you’re obviously getting some really restful and continuous sleep. But, if you find yourself sleeping in a recliner every night, then you need to work out why you’re doing this and try to fix the problem.

Can a recliner cause hip pain?

This depends on whether your recliner gives the correct support for the lumbar region. Sitting upright, with 90 degrees between your spine and thighs, puts all your body weight onto your hip joints and can cause a lot of pain. With a recliner, however, your body weight is spread over a larger area.

Another problem to be aware of is that the backrest may not have proper back support. This causes a hollow between the backrest and your lumbar region when in it’s reclined position. When this happens, your body will naturally sink into the hollow, giving you a backache. If this sounds familiar, place a small cushion or a rolled-up towel between your lumbar and the backrest to fill the gap.

If you sleep in a recliner for long periods, you may end up with knee or hip contractures. Your muscles contract over the joints and partially restricts your mobility. This can lead to a fall and possible injuries if you let it continue.

RELATED: Tips on how to prevent falls

Is a recliner bad for your neck?

During the day when we are awake, gravity pulls down on our heads and squashes the pads between the vertebrae in our necks.  Lying in our bed relieves this pressure but many people still need to have their head slightly elevated to open up the airways to help with breathing.

Using a recliner offers a compromise to the two extremes. Our head is supported on a pillow but at the same time, it isn’t flat. Many people who suffer from sleep apnea find that having their head elevated helps with breathing.

Most models of recliners don’t have a fully horizontal position. Instead, the neck rest, backrest, thigh rest and lower leg sections form optimal angles at the shoulders, hips, and knees to give you a very comfortable resting position.

Can recliners cause leg problems?

If you use a recliner all the time, the answer to this question is “Yes”.

When you sit for a long time in the same position, you are no longer using your leg muscles and this can cause swelling in the legs. If this happens regularly, blood stays in the small leg veins and they become distended. Over time this makes the legs swell, the skin appears bruised and open sores appear which leave us open to all kinds of infection. These open sores are called ‘Stasis Ulcers’.

Likewise, sitting in a position for a long time causes blood clotting in the legs, which may be lethal or cause a stroke if they break off and reach the heart or brain.

However, recliners aren’t all bad. If they can achieve the Trendelenburg Position, it places your legs slightly higher than your heart. This allows the blood to naturally flow back to the heart with very little effort.

You can also remedy this problematic situation by now and again standing up and walking around for a few minutes. This exercise will increase the blood circulation and reduce the formation of blood clots.

RELATED: Low impact exercises for seniors

Is sitting in a recliner bad for circulation?

You should read this section along with the previous one about causing leg problems.

If you stay in the same position for many hours, the fluid in your body will tend to accumulate at the lowest possible point. Sleeping in a recliner doesn’t let you turn naturally as you would in a bed.

These result in a reduction in blood flow and the problems that come hand-in-hand with this. You need to exercise to relieve this situation and get your blood circulation back to normal.

RELATED: How to improve leg circulation

We mentioned previously about recliners that can achieve the Trendelenburg Position when the legs and feet are above the heart. And this is exactly what you need to alleviate the problems associated with reduced blood flow and bad circulation.

What are the benefits of using a recliner chair?

There are many benefits to using a reclining chair. Some we have already covered, but it would be a good idea to list them all:

Stress reduction

Think about it. When we want to relax, we automatically try to lean backwards. It allows our muscles to stop supporting our bodies for a while, which in turn reduces the strain on neck, and back, reducing tension headaches and migraines.

Relief from pain

Muscle strain, caused by a tense back, neck, and shoulders, is probably one of the most common reasons for everyday pain. Recliners allow the muscles to relax by supporting the body in a  natural position. The muscles relax and the pain stops.

Improved circulation

Sitting or standing for long periods causes your body’s fluids to accumulate in your legs and feet. This clogs up the veins and increases swelling in the lower half of the body. Exercise isn’t the only thing that can reduce these bad effects. Raising your legs and feet above your heart with a recliner will help direct the blood flow away from the feet.

Aching joints

Arthritis causes many aches and pains throughout the body, especially if you are a senior. Recliners, help with this condition by correcting the angles between the joints and relaxing the muscles.

Assisting movement

Many seniors, as they get older, find they have a problem when getting in and out of chairs. They find it difficult to stand from a sitting position and sit from a standing position. Recliners, in general, help the seniors get over this situation. Furthermore,  some recliners go all the way and can lift a person into a standing position.

Automatic massagers

Some recliners incorporate vibrating massagers and heated seat pads to help with muscle aches and pains and can provide the necessary muscle stimulation if the user has mobility problems.

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