By now, most of us have heard the buzzword “comfort.”
We’re talking about the comfort of sitting back in a recliner, which is one of the most popular ways to relax during long-haul travel.
Now, a new study published in the American Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery suggests that recliner chairs have the potential to provide “tremending comfort.”
The research team from the University of Iowa and University of Michigan analyzed more than 12,000 recliner seats from around the world and determined that while they were “not necessarily the best option” for those who require them, “relaxing in a chair is not necessarily uncomfortable,” the Associated Press reported.
The researchers found that while recliner seating “does not reduce the risk of injury, it is significantly less comfortable and has fewer ergonomic features than conventional chairs.”
A chair, they found, has about the same “relief of pressure, discomfort and pressure distribution as a sitting position.”
The researchers also found that recliners “are more comfortable to use than conventional recliners, and their comfort is superior to sitting on a chair for extended periods.”
And in a surprising twist, they noted that “these results support the validity of the chair as an appropriate choice for recliners.”
But for some, the benefits of recliners are not nearly as immediate as those of sitting in them.
One study conducted by a research team at the University at Albany Medical Center found that “relatively few people actually benefit from recliners” after just five minutes of use, but that some feel better after six to nine hours.
A 2011 study by the University Health Network of the University Hospital in Birmingham found that those who used recliners for four to six hours had a significantly lower incidence of hip fracture, back pain and back pain after just a year.
But the research team of the National Institute on Dental Health in London also noted that many people who use recliners say they can feel better within a week or two, but feel worse over time.
The authors of that study recommended that people avoid recliners entirely.
“We are very concerned about the safety of the recliner and that it may become a common practice in the next few years,” Dr. Robert E. Smith, a professor of orthopaedics at the hospital, told the AP.
“A good, long-term safety study would take several years and a lot of people would need to be using the recliners at least for that period.”
Another study published this year found that using recliners can lead to “lower levels of saliva in the mouth and higher levels of other fluids in the blood.”
And according to Dr. Charles B. Miller, a neurosurgeon and professor of neurology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, recliners do not provide the same benefits as sitting back and resting on cushions.
“The more comfortable a recline is, the less likely people are to have a seizure or a stroke,” Miller told ABC News.
Miller said that reclining chairs have “the potential to do a lot more harm than good.”
“We know that a reclining chair can lead more injury to people who are not well-trained and to people that are not in the best physical shape,” Miller said.
“People who are very, very good in the medical profession can be injured and die from reclining.
So I think the concern is, if you can’t sit back, what does that say about the people who have the ability to do that?”
The study is part of a larger body of research that suggests that sitting in a sitting posture can actually make people less productive, according to the AP: “The evidence suggests that people in recliners may experience more stress and that they may be less productive and less productive in a variety of domains,” Miller added.
“What we’re doing now is trying to figure out what those risks are.”
And while some experts have said that the research should be considered preliminary, Miller told the Associated