Are Adirondack Chairs Bad for Your Back?

Irrespective of taste, region, or purpose, one of the biggest selling points of a furniture piece is comfortability. Good outdoor furniture must be durable, appeal to the owner, fit in with the decor theme and have the capability to serve its purpose without posing a potential health risk.

However, owing to modern décor preferences which seemingly focus more on aesthetics than functionality, certain outdoor furniture fails to meet these criteria. Hence, while the piece looks elegant and naturally blends into the scenery, sitting on it for long hours may feel like walking on hot coal—or worse.

The simple, elegant, and aesthetic-sensitive design of the Adirondack chairs makes them appear to fit in that category at a glance. From the slanted back and low base to the multiple slats of lined-up wood combined to form the unique piece, this timeless furniture seems somewhat mechanical.

This leaves many fearing this furniture may, in fact, pose a level of health risk to them, be it back pain or stiff neck, especially when it comes to the elderly.

Brief History Of Adirondack Chairs

History has it that the first Adirondack chair took form in 1903, thanks to the creative thinking of a man named Thomas Lee. The inventor supposedly built it in his quest to create the perfect outdoor chair for his lake house at Lake Champlain in Westport, New York.

The prototype had a single-framed back, in contrast to the multiple lined-up slats reminiscent of Adirondack chairs today. It also had slanted-back, broad arms, and was made of hemlock wood, which was most common in the area.

Two years after inventing the prototype, Harry Bunnell, a friend of Lee’s, who worked as a carpenter patented the design behind his back. Bunnell called them the Westport chairs, after the area.

Owing to its uniqueness and comfortability, the furniture style went down in history, taking a new shape, and a remarkable transformation over decades.

The slat wood design highly popular today originated from the Adirondack Mountains of New York in the 20th century, hence the name. It was invented, and patented by Irving Wolpin in the 1930s

Adirondack Chairs Through Time And Space

Although what he came up with was quite different from the Adirondack chair as seen today, it possessed the same overall structure. These attributes include:

  • A sturdy structure made entirely of wood (Pine, Brazilian Walnut, and Premium Red Cedar, which are more durable than the hemlock used in the original version).
  • A simple-yet-elegant design.
  • Wide armrests.
  • Deep, sloppy seat.
  • Tall, slant back support.

While these features today make for an overall eccentric design that transforms any outdoor space, Lee’s choice of design supposedly stemmed from his desire to beat the uneven terrain in the area where his lake house was located.

Several regions around the world have tweaked versions of this furniture. In Canada, it goes by Muskoka Chair and has a curved yoke, while the French variant is called Laurentian chair. Irrespective of the chosen name, the idea behind the chair centers around elegance, simplicity, and comfort.


Are Adirondack Chairs Bad For Your Back? The Answer Is “No” If You Follow Some Advice

Are Adirondack Chairs Bad For Your Back? The Answer Is “No” If You Follow Some Advice

Despite the widely-held fears by many due to the sloppy back, wooden frame, and cushion-free design of the Adirondack chairs, be rest assured these seats are not bad for your back. Notably, the original version of the chair was built with supreme comfort in mind, ideal for lounging in the pool, on a beach, or simply enjoying the view of the colorful garden from the porch.

For this reason, the seat caters for every possible form of discomfort one may feel while using it, whether short-term or in the long run. This reduces potential health risks to the barest minimum. In fact, health experts confirm that the reclined and relaxed position offered by this type of chair is especially great for the back. It not only puts the least stress on the spine but also gives room for switching postures between reclining and sitting upright.

However, one should note that people with pre-existing back conditions may have difficulty settling into the lowered, deep seats. The same is experienced when rising, due to the same reason. This makes it necessary to supervise the use of Adirondack chairs by elderly people or those with related ailments.

To ensure you reap the best experience from using the Adirondack chairs without causing damage to your back or other body parts, it is important to stick to the following guiding principles.

1. The Elderly Should Reduce The Use of These Chairs

Most older adults tend to have pre-existing back, neck, or joint problems, which reduces their quality of life. The overall structure of this chair, coupled with the uncushioned frame can aggravate these conditions after prolonged use. Hence, the elderly should limit usage to a bare minimum, or avoid its use completely where necessary.

It also helps to add lumbar pillows or other forms of cushioning materials to the seat for added support. Additionally, such individuals should avoid attempts to sit down or get off the chair unaided.

2. Sit Straight

Although slanted, the Adirondack chairs are built to keep you seated relatively straight. However, this position can be altered after prolonged sitting, when carried away by conversations or when trying to seek out more comfortable positions. These unconventional postures could end up hurting the back or worsen existing back problems, a situation one could have avoided by sitting straight throughout the duration.

3. Avoid Sitting For Too Long

Sitting for too long in a wooden chair with no cushion can aggravate back and neck pain. Those with pre-existing problems of the spine, neck, or back are especially susceptible to this. Therefore, taking breaks between sitting sessions, or switching to more cozy seats could help avoid this to a great extent.

4. Pay Attention To Your Posture

People who sit for long periods have greater chances of developing lower back or neck pain. This is mostly due to the tendency to maintain the same posture for long periods. Even with the coziest couches or office seats, the risks of developing these conditions are high. For this reason, experts advise office workers and others who spend a greater fraction of their day on the same spot to adopt some lifestyle changes.

Topping the list of these changes is adopting good postures, whether standing, lying down or sitting. A good sitting posture takes the strain on certain joints, muscles and tendons, thereby preventing stiffness, injuries or tears to those parts of the body. It also helps to change one’s sitting posture regularly to ensure proper blood circulation and even weight distribution. This in turn prevents you from becoming worn out and achy.

5. Know Your Body Size

Owing to the lowered seats, wide arms and high, sloppy back of Adirondack chairs, size is an important factor to consider when using them. The lowered seats may feel uncomfortable for tall people, while smaller people may find it daunting to sit too far back in the chair to enable them to recline and relax properly. Using the wide armrests could also prove tricky for certain groups depending on the size.

Overall, these restrictions defeat the whole purpose of Adirondack chairs. To work around this, many outdoor furniture brands create variations of these chairs to better suit an individual’s body frame. Some common types of these unique, timeless pieces popular in the market include:

  • The Traditional Adirondack Chairs allow users to sit comfortably at an incline. However, the mileage depends on the body type.
  • Adirondack chairs with ottomans which allow users to put their legs up, as if in a lying position. This takes the strain off the knees and ankle and is perfect for taller people.
  • The Two-person Adirondack chair which allows two people to sit comfortably
  • Adirondack chairs for kids
  • Wicker Adirondack chairs
  • Heavy-duty Adirondack chairs which have wider seats, and taller backs and are slightly higher than the conventional ones. It is just right for tall and heavy people.

Why Are Adirondack Chairs So Popular In Outdoor Furniture?


Many people opt for Adirondack chairs as their preferred outdoor furniture because of their unique, timeless designs. Furthermore, the Adirondack seats are ergonomic due to the high focus on comfortability when creating the designs. Hence, many believe these types of chairs help preserve their health while serving as the most appealing furniture piece to give an outdoor space a facelift. The following unique features have made the Adirondack chairs popular in the outdoor furniture industry.

1. Functionality

Adirondack chairs are not only stylish but also have a useful design that is as functional as it is elegant. Every inclusion in this type of chair has a function that serves in ensuring maximum comfort. The wide armrests, for instance, makes for the perfect place to relax the arm, while doubling as an extra table to drop food, beverages and gadgets.

The deep seats protect the lower back, also allowing extra room to add lumbar pillows while the slant back is perfect for reclining. Spaces in between slats allow free passage of air, making it more sturdy and comfortable. The curved yoke in come variants helps ease the strain on the knee and heels. These inclusions work together to ensure users feel refreshed and relaxed throughout the duration of usage.

2. Versatility

Adirondack furniture has been reinvented over decades in various parts of the world. It comes as no surprise then that they exist in all styles, color and materials while adhering to the same signature design. This versatility makes it easier for consumers to find one that suits their tastes among numerous furniture pieces in the market. From lounge chairs and benches to outdoor dining sets and two-seaters, Adirondack furniture pieces have you covered.

3. Comfortability

When it comes to comfort, Adirondack chairs are the go-to outdoor furniture. As stressed throughout this article, these pieces have won over the hearts of outdoor furniture shoppers across the world owing to how comfortable they are. This feature greatly reduces the chances of users developing health problems from its usage.


How To Maximize Comfort Of An Adirondack Chair

With relaxation being the main purpose of inventing the Adirondack chairs, there is no such thing as “too comfortable.” Users need to maximize comfort as much as possible when using these chairs to maximize their potential. To meet this need, several furniture brands keep reinventing the Adirondack chair, each upgrade having a new inclusion with a better promise of cmfort. These upgrades range from higher seats to pre-attached footrests.

Even with the conventional Adirondack chairs readily available in the market, accessorizing would go a long way in making your chair into the most comfortable version it can be. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Adding Cushions and pillows to specific points on the chair
  • Including custom-made armrests to better suit your arms level.
  • Using ottomans or footstools helps keep the feet elevated, easing the off strain in the process.
  • The use of soft headrests.
  • Opt for variants that are comfortable with your size and height.
  • Rocking Adirondack chairs also help you relax better.

Those hoping for more advanced options could go for some modern interpretations of the Adirondack chairs. Some brands come with pre-cushioned backrests, seats and armrests made of leather or even breathable materials. Whatever works to make the user experience more convenient and relaxing is welcome.


Like most outdoor furniture, Adirondack chairs would spend the better part of their life span in the open. Hence, they are continuously subjected to changing weather conditions as well as other factors of nature. This makes durability a strong point when opting for the best quality product, almost as important as comfort. Notably, Poly Adirondack chairs are made from HDPE(high-density polyethylene). The material is both durable and weatherproof, making these chairs a top pic for people hoping for a more long-term relationship with their outdoor furniture.

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