Are Recliners Bad for Leg Circulation

Many people who have trouble walking or standing for long periods of time, turn to recliners as a solution. They are often recommended by doctors and physical therapists as a way to increase blood flow in the legs and lower body.

However, are recliners bad for leg circulation?

Research has shown that they can actually be very beneficial if used correctly.

Here we will discuss some tips on how you can use your recliner while sitting down without it causing any negative effects on your circulation!

Is a recliner good for circulation? 

Used in a correct way, yes.

Man relaxing on recliner

The trick is to find the right balance. You want to benefit from the positive effects a reclined position offers but without overdoing it to the point where the negative effects of inactivity would cancel them out.

Studies show that elevating your legs for a minimum of 20 minutes is an ideal way to promote blood circulation.

Start by sitting in a recliner chair or power recliner in a comfortable position. Make sure your back is properly supported and there is no big gap between your lower back and the lumbar support of the recliner.

Raise the recliner to a position where your legs are slightly above the level of your heart.

This position makes the job of the heart easier as it does not have to pump blood against gravity as much as when you are standing.

In addition to your heart, this benefits your joints and improves blood pressure as well.

Can sleeping in a recliner cause blood clots? 

Sleeping in a recliner should not cause blood clots or be otherwise harmful if you do it in a proper way.

It can only raise the chance of the occurrence of a blood clot - also known as a deep-vein thrombosis - if you fall asleep in a position where your legs are bent in a way that restricts the blood flow in your arteries.

Man sleeping in a recliner

If this happens for several hours without waking up and moving around it may promote the formation of a blood clot that can travel in your bloodstream and potentially cause problems if it gets stuck somewhere.

This is the reason airlines suggest periodically waking up and walking around during long-haul flights.

A recliner on the other hand offers an easy solution to this. If you raise the chair to a position where your legs are straight you can prevent this from happening.

If you suspect that you might fall asleep in a recliner, always make sure to assume this position before relaxing.

If you have elderly parents who are prone to falling asleep in a recliner chair, remember to check on them and adjust the incline of their chair if needed.

Is sleeping in a recliner bad for circulation? 

Just as we have discussed above related to blood clots, sleeping in a recliner can be beneficial to circulation if you do it in the right position.

Where you can go wrong is if you are falling asleep in a normal sitting position with your legs bent.

Man using a recliner

If this happens, the fact that you are sleeping in a recliner does not matter at all - you might as well be sleeping on a normal chair instead.

It will have the same effect as sitting for several hours during work - and we know that this is bad for circulation.

The problem comes with blocking the blood flow in the popliteal artery - this is the artery behind your knee.

Again, recliners offer an easy way to avoid this. Just get into the habit of adjusting your sitting position before falling asleep.

If you keep your legs straight or in a slightly bent position you will avoid blocking the blood flow and the problems associated with it.

The best recliners for leg circulation 

If you are choosing a recliner model to specifically address circulation issues the main feature you want to pay attention to is the range of positions the chair can be adjusted to.

man sleeping in a recliner

If you have elderly persons in the household, you might want to opt for a power recliner. These lift chairs offer the convenience of adjusting the sitting position with the touch of a button. They can also help standing up without straining the back, legs, or arms.


Why do my legs ache when I sit in a recliner? 

When you are sitting motionless for hours with bent knees your blood flow is restricted. This might cause oxygen-poor blood to get stuck in your legs and give you the feeling of "heavy legs".

Make sure to get up and walk around from time to time. Your body needs constant fresh blood flow to carry oxygen and nutrients to your cells as well as carry waste materials away at the same time.

best sitting position for leg circulation

Another issue can be if you are tilting a power recliner backward without engaging the leg rest - or sitting in a recliner that is too big for you.

This might cause your feet to dangle in the air which puts pressure on the back of your thighs. This can restrict the blood supply in this area and cause an aching sensation in your legs.

Is sitting worse than lying down? 

Sitting motionless for an extended period of time with your legs bent is worse than lying down.

The human body was never designed to be sitting for long, our natural resting position is lying down which helps the heart maintaining good circulation.

However, both sitting and lying down can cause problems if you overdo them. Long periods of inactivity deprive our muscles of fresh, oxygen-rich blood and can lead to numerous health problems.

Can a chair cause bad circulation? 

Yes, if it's the wrong size or it forces you to sit in an unnatural position.

If the chair is too small you can be stuck in a sitting position where your knees are higher than your hips. This causes a serious bend in your legs which almost certainly leads to restricted blood flow and numbness. It also puts strain on your joints and internal organs.

If a chair is too big, your feet might be dangling in the air, causing blood flow issues in another area - the back of your thighs.

In addition to circulation issues, a chair without lower back support can also cause back pain, bad posture and spine problems.

Grant Moore