Manual Wheelchairs: Getting Comfortable

Manual Wheelchairs: Getting Comfortable

After my grandmother’s legs started causing her problems, I’ve had many opportunities to help her get around using a manual wheelchair whenever she came to America for a visit. I remember, as a child, hearing my grandmother complain that the lightweight manual wheelchair we had rented for her didn’t have very good suspension, and she could feel every bump in the pavement as we walked.

Unfortunately, along with the benefits of manual wheelchairs and transport chairs – such as better prices and easier transport, storage and maneuvering – come several downsides, including somewhat compromised comfort for the wheelchair user.

Unlike power wheelchairs and mobility scooters, most manual wheelchairs and transport wheelchairs are made with a very basic design that can fall short of the preferred level of comfort when sitting in a wheelchair for long periods of time.

If you or your loved one uses a transport chair or a manual wheelchair, you probably know about this drawback – but have you found a solution for it?

Making a wheelchair more comfortable doesn’t have to be hard. Here are some ideas we’ve put together for you to help you make your wheelchair or the wheelchair of a loved one more comfortable. If we’ve missed any other ideas you know of, we want to hear them – so please, let us know in the comments below!

Wheelchair cushions Gel cushion on transport chair

Gel cushions, ROHO cushions and other wheelchair seat cushions are an easy way to add comfort to any wheelchair – and they provide other benefits as well, including pressure relief, seating stability and more. Because there are so many possible benefits you can get from wheelchair cushions, depending which style you choose, buying one can seem a daunting task – unless you read the cushion section of this guide. Lumbar support is another idea to look into – especially for people like my grandmother who struggle with a bad back.

Larger wheels

Here’s a rule that everyone considering the purchase of a new wheelchair should know: larger wheels mean a smoother ride. Of course, bigger wheels also mean a higher overall weight – but if the user’s comfort is top priority, go ahead and get the wheel chair with 12” casters; they’ll thank you for it.

Comfortable, padded arms

Some details are easily overlooked – like the type of armrests a wheelchair for sale has. It is a small but significant detail that should always be considered when buying a new wheelchair. You can get restaurant-style arms, that allow the wheelchair to be pushed right up to the table at the restaurant, and there are other options including shorter desk arms and longer, full armrests… So before you pull out your credit card, get familiar with the different types and choose one that will ensure the user’s maximum comfort while providing as much convenience as possible.


Elevated legrests

This is especially important for individuals with leg issues – but it can also provide relief to anyone with tired legs. Although this option can be slightly more costly, take the time to consider whether that extra level of comfort is worthwhile – because, depending on the lengths of time the user will be sitting in the wheelchair, it is.

Reclining wheelchair

A reclining wheelchair can be a great option for someone who is going to spend several hours a day or more sitting in their wheelchair. With a reclining wheelchair, the user can literally sit back and relax – and what could be more comfortable than that?


Disclaimer: No information presented on this website or in this manual wheelchair guide is medical advice or intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician. All information on this website concerning medical conditions is from publicly available sources.

By | 2019-03-04T13:47:02+00:00 September 21st, 2016|Guides|3 Comments


  1. Dov W. December 6, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Helpful and informative. Thanks!

    • Hanna Landman December 6, 2016 at 7:31 pm

      It’s our pleasure! Be sure to look around our blog for additional informative guides and articles on wheelchairs, walking aids and more.

  2. Amanda Drew August 10, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    That’s good to know that the bigger the wheels the smoother the ride. My grandma finds it difficult to walk around. Currently, she’s using two canes, but it’s hard to do that when walking for a longer time. We’ll have to find her a wheelchair that she could use.

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