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How to Pick the Best Beach/Lawn Chair For A Bad Back


March 25, 2024

One of the great things about living in the Northern Neck is outdoor living. I’ll be the first to tell you that one of my favorite things that I love to do hands down is hang out on the Beach. Whether it’s on the Potomac River or the Rappahannock, having your feet in the sand and reading a good book with the breeze coming in can’t be beaten!

Along with beach lounging, hanging out with family and friends in your front yard is extremely common in our area. Whether it’s a cookout with lots of your loved ones or you’re just hanging out watching the sunset.

One common problem with both scenarios is your lawn chair. Often times if someone has back pain or has a history of it, the common foldable lawn chairs are awful. They not only cause the back to get achy, but they distract you from the moment.

So today I’m going to talk about what’s wrong with common lawn chairs, what a person should look for in their lawn chair, and even give out the name of the one I like to use.

So, the problem with most lawn chairs is around a simple anatomical feature of the body. When the hips roll backward the lower back tends to curl forward. This simple rule is put in full effect with how many of these chairs are designed. Not only that but when you have that forward-bent position of the lower back for too long, back pain can develop or even worsen.

The reader may be asking, “I got that Dr. Sisson, but how do we change this in our chairs?” The quick response is to pick a chair with 3 key features to avoid this anatomical position.

The first thing we want to look out for in our foldable chair is the back. Most of these chairs on the market have either nonexistent back support (a hole where the lower back is placed) or it's designed like a hammock. Either of these features sag and significantly curve the back to predispose folks to back issues down the road.

Instead of those two features, it's important to shop for chairs with one of two other features. We either want a chair to be rigid in the back with a straight firm support or we want them to be built with lumbar support. Both will extend the back or at the very least avoid a slouched lower back.

The second thing we want to watch out for is the angle of the chair. Research has shown that having your seat slightly extended backward past 90 degrees is best for the back (110 deg to be exact). So, make sure to avoid chairs that are stuck at a 90-degree angle, and purchase a chair that has a slight tilt or even better can be adjusted in multiple levels backward.

The last big feature to look out for is the height of the chair. The traditional lawn chairs are extremely low to the ground. In many cases, your bottom will touch the ground. This forces your knees up high, and this rolls the hips with the back.

So, make sure your chair at the very least isn’t in contact with the ground with the bottom of the chair. The higher the better, because it rolls the hips forward and extends the back.

If we keep those three features in mind, then not only can we keep back pain away. But we can enjoy the beautiful outdoors we have in the Northern Neck for years to come.

As promised, here is the brand of foldable chair I use. It has a great flat back, adjustments to get to the 110-degree angle doesn’t touch the ground with the bottom, and even has a shade cover! (Bliss Hammocks Zero Gravity Chair With Canopy and Side Tray, 31 inches wide)

That’s it for today, everyone, remember knowledge is power!

P.S. Worried you can’t go on your beach vacation this summer or even tolerate a chair with a family cookout coming around the corner? If so, it doesn’t have to be that way. Feel free to shoot us a call at (804) 493-0002 to set up an evaluation with our back specialists here at Sisson & Associates. We’ll give you custom postural adjustments like those given above and design a single movement to get rid of that back pain for good!