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BY DR. ARNAN SISSON
NOVEMBER 19, 2018
I think we can all agree our recliners hold a special place in our heart. It could be that 20-year-old lazy boy recliner that fits you just right. Or it could be the brand-new recliner you got that has all the gadgets (warming option, self-massaging system, and even light up cup holders)!
And while these are main stays in most homes…theirs one problem with them.
If you have your recliner set up incorrectly; it can actually increase back or sciatic pain long term when you have a flare up. A good bit of my clients coming in with back pain will tell me they often use their recliners through the day. And it may even make the back feel better at the time, but after 6,7, or even 8 months their back troubles are still there and likely even worse.
The reason why it may temporarily feel good laying down in the recliner with the feet up is for one the spine and the hips are well cushioned by the chair. And the “curled up” position being taken up is opening the joint space some what and relieving some of the stress. But here comes the problem.
I can tell you 100% from experience, any position that’s held too long can create problems. And the most common one I see for the back is forward bending. You see it with lots of sitting at the office or even with prolonged driving. Heck you even see it when your picking up your grandchild with a bent back, and your icing the back days afterwards. The recliner with propped up legs is no different, it is a prolonged forward bending position.
So, you may be asking yourself, “what are you saying doc, should I throw my recliner away?” Short answer, no!
But what I am saying is that when you have a bad flare up of back pain it’s a good idea to not elevate the legs, because that will magnify a bent position of the back.
When you have absolutely no back pain you can keep them propped up. But alternate between that and the legs being on the floor. You can also get up from the chair frequently throughout the day to off put the stress. And the cherry on top would be to get a great lumbar roll to support the back and get it more extended.
So, with all that said, Enjoy those recliners everyone! Just make sure you take the steps to avoid the mistakes that make back pain worse.
That’s it for today, remember everyone movement is medicine!