Importance of Pressure Relief

This article contains a video
a woman smiling
Curated by
Kristen Sachs
Content via Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
Curated by
Kristen Sachs

Pressure sores are a big concern for wheelchair users, particularly for individuals who have no sensation, like those with spinal cord injuries. Kristin, a physical therapist and owner of SCI Total Fitness, offers some information on pressure relief and techniques that can be used to help prevent pressure sores.

Kristin says that while most people know that pressure relief is important, most don’t do it as often as their therapist recommends.

“Did you know that after one hour of sitting, tissue requires two full minutes to re-profuse with oxygen enriched blood? Yet the average pressure relief is only 49 seconds.”

Kristin recommends varying pressure relief techniques for maximum results.


  • For manual wheelchair users, lifting your bottom off the cushion by holding onto the arm rest and pushing yourself upward is fine for relieving pressure, but could result in injury to your shoulders if done repeatedly.
  • Leaning all the way forward so that your sit bones raise up is another good technique.
  • Leaning side to side is also a good way to get pressure off the sit bones.
  • “If you’re in a power chair, a caregiver can help you with both leaning forward and leaning side to side,” says Kristin.
  • Lastly, if your chair tilts, be sure to tilt it all the way back to get the sit bones free of pressure.

Do you have other pressure relief techniques that work for you? Share your insight with us for a chance to be featured on AbleThrive!

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