How To Stop Someone Leaning In A Chair

Carer with lady in chair

In this article we look at the widespread issue of leaning to one side in a chair and how you can prevent this from happening.
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Factors That Cause Leaning

Conventional wisdom would dictate that the secret to solving a problem lies in understanding it. So what is it that someone lean to one side in their chair? The factors that can cause this issue fit conveniently into three main categories: the person, the chair, and the environment.

The Person

Neurological problems

Parkinson’s disease is caused by a reduction of the chemical dopamine in the brain, which helps regulate movement. As the dopamine level in the brain reduces, balance problems occur and patients find it harder to control their posture while sitting. Another symptom of Parkinson’s is stiffness. If muscles become rigid on one side of the body it can cause patients to lean to one side.

Alzheimer’s patients tend to suffer with balance in the late stages of the disease as brain cells deteriorate. There is a specific kind of Alzheimer’s called posterior cortical atrophy, which affects balance in the brain, therefore causing leaning.

Poor muscle tone

As we get older, our muscle mass decreases as a proportion of our overall body mass and we have less core strength. This makes it harder for someone to maintain an upright posture while seated.

Skeletal disorders

Skeletal disorders like scoliosis occur where the spin twists and curves to one side. Scoliosis often develops in adolescence and the causes of the disease are not clear but can be genetic. It is characterised by a lean to one side and one shoulder blade being higher than the other. Sufferers of the disease often experience lower back pain, stiffness and fatigue. We cover a lot of other skeletal disorders in our seating e-book, see pages 16-30.

Chronic Pain

Chronic back pain and sometimes nerve pain can occur as a result of the skeletal conditions outlined above. This can cause stiffness on one side, and sufferers often lean to one side to relieve the pain, particularly where nerves in the spine are affected.


The Chair


Making sure the chair is the right size is the number one factor when considering a person’s posture and comfort. If the chair is too wide or the armrests are too low, leaning and postural problems will occur.

Lateral support

If the patient does not have enough support on each side of their upper body to ‘hold’ them in the chair they will tend to fall to one side.

Pelvic positioning

The position of the pelvis in relation to the rest of the body is a key driver in postural science and we have dedicated pages 16 – 30 to this in our seating e-book. We have a great range of features across our seating range to help with this issue.


The Environment

You may puzzle slightly at how the external environment can affect a patient’s lean but consider the following. The direction that the windows are facing in a room and where the patient is situated may be causing them to lean to avoid the glare of strong sunlight. Have you ever been blinded by a mirror reflecting light into your eyes? It can be easy to overlook such mundane factors as these, but careful consideration of the patient’s physical environment can bring surprising results.

Chairs near window


The Effects of Leaning

Having looked at the causes of the issue, this leads us on to look at the effects that prolonged leaning in a chair can have.

Pressure sores

Increased pressure on the skin for long periods of time can cause pressure sores, particularly on bony areas like elbows or buttocks. They are more likely to develop if someone is leaning and resting heavily on one part of the body. With pressure sores, the skin and underlying tissue deteriorates, and they can progress and become very serious if not treated properly. 4% of annual NHS expenditure is spent on treating pressure sores so this is clearly a major issue in hospitals. As a company we have done extensive research into the issue and have dedicated a section to this in our seating e-book, see pages 31-41.

Spinal deformities

As well as spinal deformities causing leaning, the reverse is true, so it is important to make sure postural issues are corrected when choosing the right type of seating so that a vicious cycle is not created.

Postural issues

Bad posture can cause muscle spasms and cramps, and even lead to complications like trapped nerves and intestinal problems.


How to Prevent Leaning

So what can we do to stop someone leaning in a chair?

Correct seat size

Choosing the correct seat dimensions is critical to ensure the chair fits the patient, and this will go a long way in minimising any leaning or postural issues. It is important to remember that seat size and posture are inextricably linked. Yorkshire Care Equipment seating specialists are trained to measure the correct seat dimensions for any client. There are fully adjustable chairs available such as the Lento Care Chair that feature multiple adjustments ensuring a perfect fit for 80% of the adult population.

Lateral support

Having enough lateral support in the chair will help counteract any natural lean in the patient. There are different types across our seating ranges covered in our seating e-book and some can be built into the backrest.


Choosing the correct motorised action in the chair gives your patient the ability to ‘tilt-in-space’, i.e. pivot backwards in the chair whilst maintaining the same seat angle. This sitting position distributes pressure more evenly across contact points and helps centralise their position in the chair.

Mental wellbeing

The general wellbeing of the patient is an important factor in maintaining a confident and upright body posture. Having a balanced diet and getting regular access to fresh air and sunlight can all help improve mental wellbeing.

Lento care chairs progress with your client's care needs

Care Chair

In conclusion

To conclude, leaning is an issue we come across in many applications and can become a serious problem over time if not corrected. There are many factors that contribute to leaning but the choice and specification of chair is a key ingredient in resolving the issue.

Interested in a demonstration, or do you want more information on the Yorkshire Care Equipment seating range please get in touch with our team:

    Graeme Wilson
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