How to Sleep In Recliner After Shoulder Surgery?

Is it hard for you to figure out how to sleep in recliner after shoulder surgery? If yes then worry not, as today, we are here to talk about safe sleep when using a recliner. So for a lot of people, a recliner is the most comfortable position to sleep, whether that’s long-term or during a surgical recovery or injury recovery.

This article will cover several different positioning aids that will help people stay as posturally supported as possible. So let’s get started with 4 easy positioning tips that can be applied immediately to help you find the right way to sleep in a recliner after shoulder surgery.

What Is The Best Recliner After Shoulder Surgery?

The best recliner after shoulder surgery comes with:

  • Comfortable Backrest that supports the whole body properly.
  • Adjustable reclining positions.
  • Lift assistance that aids in standing without putting pressure on shoulder muscles and tissues.
  • Easy to adapt with either hand as right arm surgeries are more common than left arm surgery, so it can be difficult to use the recliner after right arm surgery. Therefore an ideal shoulder surgery recliner should be easy to adapt with either hand by use of a convenient remote.

For a better understanding, click the link to learn how to adapt a recliner for right arm surgery if you want your recliner to fit properly after your dominant arm surgery. 

Also, the following link will help you if you are unsure of how to determine the most suitable recliner after shoulder surgery

What Is The Best Way To Sleep In A Recliner After Shoulder Surgery? (4 Easy Tips For Optimal Posture)

Those who have undergone shoulder surgery spend most of their time in chairs since it is a short-term necessity. Therefore, recliners are one of the most comfortable places in the house to relax or sleep with a sore shoulder.

However, people often worry that reclining positions will hurt them or complicate things.

So, I will go ahead (right positioning from Head to Toe) and explain all the little things you can do to correct potential postural issues that would arise if you slept in the reclined position for an extended period of time.

1. Position Of Head and Neck

position of neck and head in a recliner
(Step 1) for how to sleep in recliner after shoulder surgery

Your head and neck should naturally rest on the recliner’s headrest. By naturally, we mean you are not feeling any discomfort while reclining or sleeping in your nape area.

While sleeping in the reclined position on a recliner, one of the things that a lot of people do wrong is that they add a pillow behind their head. This can be comfortable for some time, but it pushes the head very far forward, and eventually, it can cause many neck troubles.

If you are considering adding a pillow behind your neck, make sure that you add a very thin pillow so that it doesn’t push your head too far forward.

Another thing that I recommend for people who underwent shoulder surgery is to add a neck roll for proper neck support, whether it’s a simple rolled-up towel or specifically a neck pillow. Just make sure anything you add behind the curvature of your neck should be comfortable enough to give the neck a natural curve.

Generally, neck pillows after shoulder surgery are more convenient as they wrap around the neck and prevent the patient from accidentally bending or sleeping too far in one direction. This can cause really uncomfortable neck pain, ultimately putting the risk on the surgical site.

2. Positions of Shoulders And Arms/Hands

After having surgery, the patients will be set up with the sling after one day of surgery or at the hospital. The sling restricts the movement of your shoulder. One thing to ensure is that the sling supports the shoulders optimally. This is to ensure the ball of the shoulder does not fall out of the socket and is well supported with the sling.

When it comes to shoulder, elbow, and hand positioning in a recliner, many people believe that the recliner’s armrest takes care of everything. But I will warn you that over time the pressure on the elbows and the back of the arms and really the position of the shoulders can be problematic. 

Therefore, I recommend using some pillows to provide some more support when you sleep in a recliner on your back.

Correct Way To Place Pillows Under your Arms and Elbows:

  • Using two pillows when you sleep in a recliner on your back is beneficial in this situation.
  • Pillows should not be overly stuffed or hard; just normal pillows on which you feel comfortable is key.
  • One pillow under each arm, kind of elevating the arms over the body.

Placing the pillows and resting your arms over them, especially the one on which the surgery is done should be well supported by a sling, and the pillow is very beneficial as:

  • It will alleviate the pressure off the elbows and allow them to be kind of float above instead of pressing down into the recliner.
  • It also relieves pressure on the elbow nerves.
  • It can also put the shoulders in a slightly lighter position and pull them off the chair instead of pressing so hard into the recliner.

Generally, this is the most ergonomic position for long-term sleep in a recliner, and people after shoulder surgery can enjoy a peaceful nap and sleep without discomfort.

Also Read: Comfortable Recliners For People With Arthritis

3. Position Of Lower Back

One of the biggest problems with sleeping in a recliner is that you lose the curvature of your lower back. This is because you are not lying flat in a recliner chair, and your lower body and buttocks receive constant pressure from gravity.

So, it’s imperative for you to pay attention to that when you are sleeping in a recliner. I do recommend adding lumbar support to reduce the risk of lower back pain while sitting in a recliner

Lumbar support can come in a lot of different forms. Some people will use a small pillow; I like a towel roll because it’s really easy to set up, and you can adjust it for size and width according to your comfort level. You can also use purchased lumbar support that can be found in usually office chairs.

So, I would recommend that if you can’t tolerate lumbar support all of the time, then have it placed at least some of the time to support the lower back. This will maintain correct posture and prevent discomfort after shoulder surgery while sleeping in a recliner.

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4. Position Of Hips, Knees, And Legs

We have talked about the upper half of the body, and now we will talk about how to support the legs while sleeping in the recliner.

One critical consideration is that depending on the type of recliner you are using will highly impact how ideally your lower body is supported while seated in a recliner.

If you have a reclining chair that has a gap between the footrest and seat, then it may be problematic and can cause leg pain, but if your recliner has a padded pillow, unlike chairs with gaps, then your legs will always be supported by them, even if you elevate the footrest and stretch and rest your legs.

But if you have a gap in your recliner’s footrest, then I highly recommend placing pillows or a blanket to fill those unsupportive gaps. This is very helpful, and it will prevent a lot of discomfort if you continue to recline for a very long time.

Another thing to consider is that most recliners don’t have footrests that raise your knees and legs above the height of your heart. However, there are few recliners that do have this option that can fully elevate the footrest position to help lower extremity swelling or edema.

If your recliner does not elevate the legs above the heart level, then I strongly recommend adding a pillow under the feet to get the legs elevated. This ultimately helps to improve the blood circulation in the legs. The secondary reason for above the heart elevation is to get the pressure of the heals

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Why Do You Have To Sleep In A Recliner After Shoulder Surgery?

In general, the key reason why you have to sleep in a recliner after shoulder surgery is that, after a surgical operation, sleeping on your back puts constant pressure on your shoulder, especially when you are standing up from sleeping on your back.

Therefore, it is necessary for people recovering from shoulder surgery to sleep in semi-reclined positions for at least 4 to 6 weeks to make getting in and out easier and keep the pressure at bay.

How to Sleep In Recliner After Shoulder Surgery – Related FAQs

How Do You Sleep With A Sling On A Recliner?

An additional problem after shoulder surgery is how to sleep with a sling on a recliner and keep the tension off the shoulder as well as the other side of the neck where the sling strap rests.  

The best way to sleep on a recliner while wearing a sling is to use extra pillows placed on the armrest and beneath the surgical arm. By resting your elbow on the extra pillows, you are elevating and supporting your shoulder properly.

You will also notice that the strap on the neck becomes loose as you rest your hand on the extra pillows with the right support and elevation. So, it would be easy to sleep comfortably in the recliner with the sling on with this method.

Is Sleeping In A Recliner Good For Shoulder Pain?

Most shoulder pain is caused by the rotator cuff tendons getting trapped under the boney area of the shoulder. A simple way to treat shoulder pain is to choose a well-designed recliner and sleep in it, use ice pads, do physical therapy, and consult with your doctor.

Final Words

Common locations for wound development for individuals who sleep in recliners are the back of the heals, the lower back(sacrum or tailbone), and the back of the neck. These are three points that you have a lot of pressure on, so to remove that pressure, it is important to add extra support around the seat and headrest to relax ideally.

In the end, I hope now you are empowered enough with the right knowledge about how to sleep in the recliner after shoulder surgery in a proper and supportive manner.

So with all that said above, the key to comfortable sleep after the surgery is the combination of pillows, elevating the feet, supporting the lumbar, and supporting the neck. When you do all of these things appropriately and constantly, you can safely sleep in a recliner for extended periods of time.

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