Recliner chairs: things you need to know if buying one for your recovery


Nurse Director
Jun 8, 2007
The North
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Recliner chairs are God's gift to recovering hip and knee patients! But there are lots of variations so I've put this article together to guide you.

Recliner chairs come in two types, basic recliners and riser-recliners that lift you to your feet so all you have to do is walk away! Great for the pre-op period when bone-on-bone joints make getting up and sitting down a special agony. But it's different for post-op.


Hippies often have 90 degree restrictions imposed upon them for a few weeks post-op and so doctors and PTs (physios) tend to frown upon them in the mistaken impression that they are like sofas and will require breaking the rule in order to get to one's feet. There are ways round that.

Knee patients are also often told that it will be difficult to get up and sit down but I would argue with that. I used this recliner sofa for my recovery and had no problems at all. I did add an extra cushion to make the the seat a little higher but it wasn't by much.

my settee.JPG

The chairs themselves come in a variety of different methods of working and degrees of reclining and flattening

1. the back and the leg flap moving together as the button is pressed which means before the leg flap is fully up, the back is already half down. The result is not really comfortable reading or eating a meal

a poor chair.jpg

2. the leg flap reaches almost maximum height before the back goes down which means it is comfortable for eating and reading

good recliner 2.jpg

3. the recliner only goes down to about 45 degree angle and flap may not come up to the same level as the seat

a very poor chair.JPG

4. the recliner goes almost - and sometimes even completely - flat

good recliner 3 flat.JPG

Then there are the controls:
1. manual controls which are levers on the side of the chair. These are NOT recommended as you need strong legs to press the leg flap down again! There is also no in-between stage as the leg flap is either fully up or fully down!

recliner manual control.jpg

2. Electrically operated chairs are best and even these come in types!

2a. a button on the side of the chair - it's okay provided you can reach it when it's reclined. But while they're okay for knees, I wouldn't recommend them for hips as, when laying flat, you may have to breach restrictions to reach the button

control buttons.JPG

2b. remote control, usually connected by an electric cable

remote control.jpg

3. they also come in single or double motors.
Recliner-only chairs have a single motor but riser-recliners can have one or two motors. One motor operating both recline and rise may mean the leg flap and back work at the same time and then, when the leg flap is down, the chair is raised.
Two motors mean the leg flap and back are operated by one motor - and therefore work in sequence rather than at the same time - and the riser by the other.

good recliner 2.jpg

It would be best to check this out before making a purchase and making sure you have one that exactly meets your needs.

Making the chair suit your needs:
One of the primary criticisms aimed at recliner chairs by professionals is that they are too low for comfort and safety. This is easily remedied by using an extra cushion to raise the seat level. But a better solution is to have a handyman create a platform frame out of 4x6" timber (see next post). It has to be strongly constructed with either a rim around the edge or cups for the feet or castors, to prevent the chair slipping off.


Apr 20, 2014
Dallas, TX
United States United States
My husband built a simple platform to raise the height of my recliner. I love it - I've had trouble getting out of that chair for a long time. Here's a photo:
ImageUploadedByBoneSmart Forum1400680119.886405.jpg

Josephine edit

Here is a shop bought platform from Amazon called the "Little Boost Platform"
$154.95 + $16.95 shipping (July 2, 2016)

Little Boost Platform.JPG

Fits recliners and regular chairs up to 27 inches x 27 inches.No tools or assembly are required.Security lip all around the top.Square rubber pads on each corner hold your chair securely in place.Elevates chair 3 inches

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