Are Recliners Bad for Your Knees? We Bust the Myth

All content and media on Office Solution Pro is created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. This post contains affiliate links.

Imagine coming home from a long day at the office to slide into your beloved recliner chair. The wonderful feeling of lying down on the soft padding is indescribable. However, considering the fact that the overall prevalence of knee pain in the population is close to 19%, many often ask, can recliners cause knee pain? 

Are recliners bad for your knees? Generally, recliners are not bad for your knees. If used correctly, a recliner that fits you properly can help promote healthy blood circulation within the legs and knees. However, this depends on many factors including your age, activity level, and severity of knee pain.​  

With that said, there’s a lot more that goes into recliners and knee pain. First, let’s define what is knee pain to make sure that we are on the same page. Knee pain comes in many forms and can vary in severity based on a number of factors. Chances are, many simple bad habits can cause the pain in the first place.

1. What is Knee Pain? 

Did you know that knee pain is the most common musculoskeletal complaint that brings people to the doctor? It has become prevalent in today’s modern society partly because of the growth of a sedentary lifestyle. Knee pain can also be caused by a sudden injury, an overuse injury, or by an underlying condition, such as arthritis.

Who is at risk of knee pain?

People who are obese or overweight are at a greater risk for knee pain. According to this clinical study, for every pound that you are overweight, your knee must absorb an extra 4 pounds of pressure whenever you move around (walking, running, and climbing stairs). This means that for every pound of weight loss, the impact on the knees is reduced fourfold.

In addition to body weight, other factors that can increase the risk of knee pain include age, previous injuries, or performing a physical activity with poor form. While physical activity is the recommended treatment option for individuals with knee pain, finding the perfect balance between activity and rest is the way to go.

FUN FACT: The knee is the largest joint in the body. Not only are both of your knees the largest joints in the body, but they are one of the most complicated ones too. The knees play an important role in your mobility, carrying the weight of your body and absorbing the shock caused by walking, running and jumping.

2. Can Recliners Cause Knee Pain?

So, can recliners cause knee pain? In most cases, recliners cannot cause knee pain. Most knee pains are caused by injuries, overuse, or an underlying condition. Being overweight can also cause knee pain. Assuming that you use your recliner chair properly, you are at minimal to no risk of developing knee pain. 

Are recliners bad for your knees?

What about if you are having knee pain? Are recliners bad for your knees? To be frank, recliners are not bad for your knees. It might even help you in recovering from knee pain, under the condition that you use the recliner chair properly. Like everything else, however, recliners have its pros and cons to consider.

Sleeping in a fully reclined position can help better circulation, among many other benefits.

According to Dr. Bryan Kamps, MD, recliners are a mixed bag. There are certain things that they are good for, but it’s best to use your judgments. For example, if you are someone who spends a lot of time on your feet, then resting in a recliner may work wonders in relieving stress on your body, especially the lower back and knees.

If, however, you are someone who spends many hours sitting, then a recliner may not be ideal for you. One of the recliner’s flaws is that it encourages sitting. Some people just don’t need that kind of encouragement. Chances are, the lack of activity is the source of the knee problems that you are dealing with in the first place.

“A recliner in front of the television with a remote, spending hours a day in it—that is not going to be good for your health, right? That’s not the recliner’s fault, though. That’s just the overall sedentary lifestyle.”

- Dr. Bryan Kamps, MD.

3. Can You Sit in a Recliner After Knee Replacement?

What about after surgery? Can you sit in a recliner after knee replacement surgery? Yes, you can sit or sleep in a recliner after knee replacement. Infact, recliners are especially helpful for people recovering from surgery. In addition to a knee surgery, a recliner can also help when trying to sleep after a shoulder surgery.

The popular abbreviation of RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) works wonders in treating and recovering from knee pain, especially after a surgery. In order to help reduce the swelling in the knees, you can elevate your leg on a recliner above the level of your heart. Check with your doctor before trying any treatments.

How should you sit in a recliner?

So, how should you sit in a recliner to prevent knee pain? The best way to sit in a recliner to prevent knee pain is to fully recline the backrest, while elevating both your legs. To achieve proper feet elevation, you can also use an ergonomic wedge pillow, specifically designed to promote the ideal angle for resting your legs.

Try to keep the ideal 45-degree angle between your thigh and resting surface, in this case, the recliner. According to the University of California San Francisco, a 45-degree angle (halfway between lying flat and having your legs vertical) is best for optimal blood flow in the lower body, especially after knee surgery.

PRO TIP: To maximize the benefits of a recliner, it has to fit you properly. If your recliner doesn’t support your lower back, the chair could do your body more harm than good. To help you make the best buying decision, we’ve thoroughly researched the best recliner chairs for your home. You’ll be sure to find the ideal recliner for you to enjoy. 

Final Verdict

Hopefully, this simple post can answer: are recliners bad for your knees? It’s important to consider proper ergonomics both at home and the office. You can now kick back and relax with the confidence that your beloved recliner is friendly to your knees. Just remember that it should be a short and cherished interlude between productive activities. 🙂