Warmer weather provides the perfect opportunity for a trip to the beach, and if you have a backache, the right chair can make your visit that much more comfortable. Generally, the best beach chairs for bad backs will support your spine with the help of a deep seat and firm back, but some feature a zero-gravity design that allows you to recline, relieving stress on your lower back
“The most important thing is to find a chair that provides good spinal support,” says Steve Hruby, MD and founder of Kaizen Progressive Health. “This can be accomplished by looking for a chair with a firm back and a deep seat that will help keep your spine in a neutral position.” And while you should ideally look for a chair with extra lumbar padding, you can too add own; Eric Finger, board-certified orthopedic physical therapist and founder of Move Empower Concierge Physical Therapy, has a simple solution that doesn’t cost a lot of money. “Rolled towels work just as well as lumbar pillows and are one less thing to carry when you’re at the beach or pool.”
According to Hruby, a zero-gravity beach chair that reclines is also a fantastic option because it’s designed to keep your body in a neutral posture when you lean back, giving you that signature “weightless” feeling . Finger agrees: “Using a reclining chair helps relieve pressure on the lower back, relax tight hip muscles, and reduce lower back pain.”
As for types of chairs to avoid, Hruby warns against round chairs (also known as “scoop chairs”) because they position the spine in an unnatural curve. You should also stay away from chairs with rigid, straight backs, as they can strain your lumbar muscles.
A good beach chair with back support can also have other useful features, like a built-in cooler, storage pocket, or backpack straps for maximum portability. (You may also want to watch the weight to make sure it’s light enough to carry). Here are the best beach chairs for back pain — some are even highly recommended by experts.
1. This low-gravity chair with lumbar support
While low-to-the-floor chairs aren’t typically the best solution for back pain, the low-gravity STRONGBACK beach chair more than makes up for it with its wealth of lumbar support features. Lumbar support is integrated into the ergonomically designed steel frame, which is complemented by padding in the lower back area for additional comfort. Along with a 21-inch deep seat, it’s equipped with a sturdy backrest that aligns the spine and hips while you’re seated and padded armrests that provide extra padding. However, because it has shorter legs, it can make it difficult to sit down and get up – an important consideration to keep in mind.
The STRONGBACK beach chair made of durable 600 denier polyester withstands strong beach winds and the wide feet do not sink into the sand. There’s also an attached drink holder for convenient storage of canned or bottled drinks. Finally, this chair has a weight capacity of 300 pounds, but itself only weighs 8.5 pounds and is designed to be easy to transport – simply fold the chair up, place it in the included carry bag and toss the two straps over your shoulders.
According to a reviewer: “I go to the beach a few times a week, live in Southern California, and this chair has been my faithful buddy. My wife usually lies on a towel so I like that it’s unobtrusive to keep us on a similar level. The back support is amazing. With most chairs like this, the back sinks in and causes pain later. This chair is one of the best purchases I’ve made in the last year.”
2. This high-off-the-ground chair with lumbar support
Another option from STRONGBACK, this beach chair sits higher off the ground, making it a helpful option for those who find it difficult to get up after sitting in lower positions. Like the low-gravity version, it features lumbar support integrated into the steel frame, as well as lumbar padding for added comfort. Perhaps most helpfully, it comes in two sizes to accommodate people of different heights – this Guru chair is designed for those 5ft 8″ and under, while the Elite chair is designed for those over 5ft 8″. . Choosing a height-specific chair can help ensure you sit with your knees at a 90-degree angle to your hips, which can help reduce lower back pain.
At 27 inches, this chair offers plenty of seat depth and the ergonomic design aligns the hips and back for proper posture. Its wide, non-sinking feet keep it from getting stuck in the sand, and its two built-in drink holders mean you can keep cold drinks close by. The chair is made of 600-denier polyester, has a 300-pound capacity, and weighs 10.5 pounds. It can be folded and stored in the included travel bag, which has two shoulder straps for carrying.
According to a reviewer: “The most comfortable chair ever! Not too low or high. Easy entry and exit. Perfect for the beach or a game in the fields.”
- Available colors: 4
- Sizes Available: Guru Chair (for those 5’8″ and under), Elite Chair (for those 5’8″ and over)
3. A budget chair with a built-in cooler
For those looking for a budget option, this Coleman outdoor chair is an excellent choice with lots of quality features – and it has an overall rating of 4.7 stars on Amazon based on 46,000 reviews. And while it’s technically called a camp chair — not a beach chair — Hruby specifically recommends it for people with back pain. The fully-padded 24-inch polyester seat and backrest provide support for your spine, while the high-grade steel frame helps keep your body aligned. Keep in mind that there’s no built-in lumbar support – so you might want to provide your own – but the armrests are height-adjustable, a unique feature that improves the comfort factor. Plus, one reviewer noted that it’s “stable in the sand” so you don’t have to worry about it sinking or tipping over.
In addition to a side pocket and drink holder, this above ground beach chair also features a built-in cooler that holds up to four cans at a time. With a carrying capacity of 300 pounds and a total weight of 7.75 pounds, it’s the lightest beach chair on the list and helps a lot with portability – simply fold it up, slip it into the included carry bag, and sling the single strap over your shoulder.
According to a reviewer: “The chair is very comfortable and “fits” well. I was able to use it comfortably on my patio for many hours. This says a lot about a person who has had back surgery. Recommended.”
4. The rocking chair that helps relieve muscle tension
Another Hruby choice, GCI’s beach chair rocks – both figuratively and literally. The unique aluminum frame mechanism gives this chair the freedom to rock back and forth, which can help release muscle tension and help you get out of the chair. With a weight capacity of 250 pounds, the chair features a 24.4 inch deep seat and padded armrests for added comfort. A drink holder on the front leg offers space for your can or bottle.
While the manufacturer doesn’t list what fabric the chair is made of, several reviewers attested to its longevity. A mesh panel at the back adds ventilation, which is great for hot, sunny beach days, but there’s no built-in lumbar support, so you might want to add your own. With a total weight of 10.8 pounds, the chair quickly folds flat for easy portability. It has no carry case or shoulder straps; Rather, it has a sturdy handle for carrying by hand.
According to a reviewer: “It’s a very comfortable rocker. At the beach you sit in the sand AND STILL GET UP EASILY. It didn’t sink much into the sand, so there was no left or right tilt. The rocker action is relaxing. It’s great for everyone, but especially those of us who are older or heavier than we used to be. […] Worth the price.”
5. A zero-gravity chair that relieves the lower back
A zero-gravity chair like this one from Amazon Essentials ensures total comfort throughout the afternoon. Finger recommends this design because it allows you to recline at any angle – just lean back and your legs will lift to align with your spine, relieving pressure on your lower back. Constructed from a sturdy steel frame and weather-resistant Textilene fabric, this chair features a removable headrest pillow that provides extra neck support, and one reviewer reported that it can be moved down to cushion the lumbar area.
With a 200lb capacity, this foldable chair weighs 17.8lbs, making it a bit heavier and bulkier. So keep that in mind if portability is an issue (and note that there are no handles or straps to carry). If you’re planning on going to the beach with a buddy, you can even buy this chair in a two-pack that comes with a handy side table.
According to a reviewer: “Very comfortable chair. When I recline fully it really helps relieve my lower back pain and is very relaxing. Love it!”
6. This chair that folds into a backpack
With an overall rating of 4.7 stars after 2,000 reviews, this is one of the best backpacking beach chairs on Amazon, and it has the convenience of two padded straps that allow you to carry it over your shoulders for seamless transportation – no tote bag required. While it has a weight capacity of 300 pounds, the chair itself only weighs 11 pounds, making it easy to carry to and from the beach. The wide seat is made from durable polyester fabric and there is also an integrated neck pillow that provides extra support and padding. Constructed of lightweight aluminum, the chair has a sturdy backrest and four reclined positions that can take strain off your lower back, but note that the seat is only 17 inches deep.
There are two compartments: a cup holder on the side, as well as a large storage pocket that you can access on the go. (On Finger’s advice, you can even keep a small towel in your pocket to use as lumbar support when you get to the beach.)
According to a reviewer: “This is my new beach chair. I like that it’s higher off the ground than most. I had 2 back surgeries and one knee surgery. I find it easy to sit down and stand up. It is easy to carry, not heavy and sturdy. I love it!”
- Available colors and styles: 4
Steve Hruby, DOC and Founder of Kaizen Progressive Health. https://www.kaizenprogressivehealth.com/
Eric Finger, Certified Orthopedic Physical Therapist and Founder of Move Empower Concierge Physical Therapy. https://moveempowerpt.com/about/