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The Healing Effects of Rocking Chair Therapy

Updated on March 12, 2014

Rocking chairs offer a soothing movement

Mother rocking her newborn
Mother rocking her newborn | Source

A rocking chair gift for a new mom

As a nurse I am always interested in healing therapy-in whatever forms they come. In both my personal and professional experience one of the methods of therapy that has shown to be effective, has a low initial and maintenance cost, and is under used, is the rocking chair.

Every new mother knows that a rocking chair is a nursery necessity. From feeding a hungry newborn to quieting a fussy baby, a rocking chair is more than a place to sit. The back and forth movement of the chair assists in soothing a cranky infant, as well as an anxious mom.

Rocking chairs make wonderful gifts for the expectant parents. Just one word of caution-let the expectant mother select the chair. It really is a personal thing, not a one-size-fits-all. In fact, not only does color matter, but which style and size to match the décor of the baby’s room must be taken into consideration.

Medical benefits of rocking chairs

My personal experience occurred in the summer of 2000. Approaching a hospital for preoperative lab work, my stomach in knots, I explained to the desk clerk the purpose of my visit. She escorted me into a room that would be used to explain the surgery and sign the consents. As she swung open the door inviting me to take a seat I was shocked to find that one of the choices was a rocking chair. “How clever of them,” I thought to myself. By the time the hospital representative came in with the paper work I was relaxed and in a much more alert place to listen to her information.

Hospital Labor and Delivery Rooms include rockers

One never truly outgrows a rocker and the nostalgic and therapeutic benefits are immeasurable. Let me share with you where I have noted the careful addition of rocking chairs and the reasons that they were placed there.

In hospital labor and delivery rooms: Why? Well, for the aforementioned reasons-they soothe mom and newborn. These are also included on many hospital pediatric units.

Nursing home patient
Nursing home patient | Source

Rocking chairs for mental health

In nursing homes: Studies have shown that dementia and Alzheimer patients have benefited by the constant motion of the rocker helping to relax them and thus decrease their agitation. Medication for agitation use is thus reduced. In one study, Nancy M. Watson, PhD, RN, associate professor at the University of Rochester, School of Nursing, in Rochester, New York, studied the effects of patients who were depressed and anxious noting that they became calmer and happier when using the rockers on a regular basis. Family members were more satisfied with their choice of using the nursing home because their loved one was more content.

On hospital psychiatric units: One of my experiences as a nurse in California was on a geriatric psychiatric unit. I was pleasantly surprised to see the unit was well stocked with rocking chairs. The unit manager used part of his budget money to supply the chairs making them easily accessible to all patients. The efficacy of this simple piece of furniture was amazing.

How rockers aid rehabilitation

The relaxing benefits of rocking, following a major heart attack, has been shown to decrease the recuperation time, while improving their overall mood. For patients suffering from the crippling effects of arthritis can improve the use of their body through the easy motion of the rocker. Rocking aids in strengthening and keeping the affected areas flexible. Patients with hypertension can benefit from rocking to reduce blood pressure, respirations and the heart beat. As one rocks and relaxes, tension is released and the major organs slow. For people who suffer from chronic lower back pain, rocking releases endorphins that improve mood and increase comfort. President Kennedy used one in his office.

Rocking chairs help special populations focus

At least one school district in North Carolina, The Iredell-Statesville Schools, have added rocking chairs in the classrooms for exceptional children. The constant movement of the rocker provides an outlet for children with disabilities such as ADD and ADHD. It helps them to focus and improves concentration. Children with Autism have benefited from the calming effect that the rocker provides. And, in September 2006, Librarian, Lindsey Biel, held a workshop at the annual American Library Association annual conference encouraging all libraries to add rocking chairs in their facilities to accommodate the special needs child.

Charlotte, North Carolina International Airport

One of my favorite airports to travel through is the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, because it’s loaded with rocking chairs-big, wooden, white traditional porch rockers. They are found in the Atrium along with potted trees, vendors and a food court. The rockers, handcrafted in North Carolina, were originally placed there as part of a photography exhibit in 1997 about the southern art of ‘porching’. The rocking chairs were so well received that they stayed. Although Charlotte was the first airport to include rocking chairs, other airports have added them as well, including San Diego, Cincinnati, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Seattle.

Charlotte-Douglas International Airport Atrium

Travellers relax in rocking chairs at CLT, NC
Travellers relax in rocking chairs at CLT, NC | Source

Add a rocker to your porch

Down south you can’t find a porch that doesn’t have a swing or rocking chair. One of the best known rocker filled porches in the food business is The Cracker Barrel Restaurant. in my opinion, no matter where you live a porch just isn’t complete unless it has a rocking chair.

Tips on buying a rocking chair

If you are in the market for a rocking chair here are some tips to help you to select a rocking chair that will give you generations of comfort and pleasure.

1. Material-one of the first things to consider is what material do you envision your rocker to be constructed from? Wood or wicker are two of the choices.

2. Style-there are so many new styles out, but the main question is-contemporary or traditional?

3. Color-white is a wonderful color for a rocking chair, especially for wicker, but a natural wood or any stain is also an option. Just remember when it comes to your satisfaction there is a rainbow of colors to choose from.

4. Cushions-if your chair is not covered in fabric you may opt for cushions.

5. Additional options would include a built in massage or heater. Now, that is getting real fancy. My first rocking chair that I received as a baby gift was a large, wooden rocker. I added the cushions for comfort. My ‘baby’ is grown with kids of her own and I still have this rocking chair.

6. Rocker or glider-the rocker is the bows at the bottom of the chair. Some chairs do not have this, but are set on a glider frame instead. Your decision is a matter of personal preference.

7. TRY IT OUT! A very important step when purchasing a rocking chair.


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    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi calpol25-I'm glad you have nice memories to fall back on. I love my rocking chair and ALL the memories I have from the many rockers that have graced my life time. :) Have a wonderful week end.

    • calpol25 profile image


      8 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      When I was a little boy my mum used to have a rocking chair, she doesn't now but as I child I can remember sitting on her knee and learning to read whilst she rocked and encouraged me...When I have a bad time I always return to that point and some how it makes me feel better. Thank you for sharing this hub and it made me return to my childhood :)

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow Mike, an over 200 year old rocker in mint condition is rare. I bet you don't use that one much, LOL Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • profile image

      Mike McCarthy 

      9 years ago

      Oh yeah, rockers are wonderful BUT not for everyone. Some people get sick from rocking. I have 1 simple style rocker & 1 that's over 200 years old in mint condition.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi LL Woodard-thanks for reading and commenting. I love my rocker and am quite particular as to who is sitting in it, LOL

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 

      9 years ago from Oklahoma City

      I'm with you, Denise, I can't imagine being without a rocking chair. It isn't surprising to learn that it has many therapeutic effects.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Hey Aley, I was just thinking about you this morning. How are you. Canadian rocker sounds like a keeper! Thanks for commenting.

    • Aley Martin profile image

      Alice Lee Martin 

      9 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      Good Hub here! I loved the Canadian rocker when nursing my son as it moves but more "slides" than rocks....very soothing though!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Vinodkpillai-thank you for visiting my hub and commenting. I appreciate your reminder about the 'return to the womb'. I'd forgotten about that and it makes perfect sense then as to how we are soothed by this motion. Take care.

    • Vinodkpillai profile image


      9 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thanks Denise! Good read and a very useful hub. Voted up. Made me wonder how I have lived without a rocking chair. I must get one soon! I want to add that this also reminded me of something I read many years ago - I think it was one of Desmond Morris' books - suggesting that the rocking motion or rhythmic tapping of an infant by a mother, follow the rhythm of the heartbeat and hence mimics the conditions of the most comfortable stage of our life - the prenatal stage - dominated by the loud sound of the mother's heartbeat!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Susie for reading and commenting.

      Deborah D-Yes, yes, get one. I can't imagine living without one, LOL

      Seafarer-Your mom lives a stone's throw away from me. I enjoyed all the ways rocking chairs have come into your life. Please let me know if your friend gets a rocker and if she notices any difference. :)

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen A Szklany 

      9 years ago from New England

      Hi Denise,

      Voted up and beautiful. Had a rocking chair when I was one, first birthday present from my grandfather. It lives at my Mom's in Williamsburg. My daughter loves to rock in it when we visit. :0)

      Great perspective on the airport rocking chair phenomenon. My daughter likes to rock in the chairs at the Newport News airport when we visit my Mom in VA.

      Loved the glider that we received via our local "Freecycle" network just before my daughter was born. We had to leave it behind when we moved out of our old apartment and into our new home. I want another one, now! :0) Will be very beneficial to have it next time my Mom visits us in New England.

      Think I may suggest a rocker to my friend in Boston who has fibromyalgia. Great thought!

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander Reno 

      9 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      I've always loved rocking chairs, especially after my children were born. Guess it's time to get a new one, for me.


    • SUSIE405 profile image


      9 years ago from Delray Beach, Florida

      Thanks for a great hub. I have always found rocking chairs to be cathartic.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Fossillady-LOL oh gosh, that is funny. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks, Eiddwen, I appreciate your comments and 'dancing fingers'.

      Motown-oh my...your poor husband, LOL I would seriously encourage a chair, even if it is a second hand one. In fact sometimes at yard sales you can get a real deal. Then, you can rock to your hearts content without annoying anyone, LOL

      FaithDream-that is one disease I did not consider when I wrote the hub. Thanks for opening my awareness to other areas.

      Cara, I love that rocker and thought of you while writing this. I want one of those-they are the bomb of rockers!

      Londonlady-thanks for reading and commenting. Enjoy your rocking chair.

      Docmo-there are no coincidences are there. LOL I hope you enjoy your lounge/rocker. Thanks for your comment.

      Always Exploring: perfect combination: rocker/ outdoors/ sunshine. Thanks for commenting.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Marie-I can't live without a rocker. My first one is sitting up north in Michigan, but I have my father's glider / rocker after he passed away with me here in NC

    • Fossillady profile image


      9 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Sometimes I find myself rocking in my computer chair, in fact, I am rocking right now and it feels good! Great Job!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      9 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I have a rocking chair on my patio and i love it. Great hub. Thank you.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      9 years ago from UK

      What a great hub- oddly enough I was walking up an escalator while shopping recently and spotted a 'rocking- sunlounger' and said to myself what a wonderful addition it will be to our back garden as the sun has been out...thanks for sharing this Denise- voted up!

    • Londonlady profile image

      Laura Writes 

      9 years ago

      I love these! I used to have a few but I don't anymore, which is sad because I loved rocking on them. Great hub, voted UP! :)

    • cardelean profile image


      9 years ago from Michigan

      Great job! You are right that it is a personal choice. When I chose the rocker for rocking my children I wanted one that was VERY comfy so I chose a stuffed armchair type that rocked. We still use it!

    • FaithDream profile image


      9 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      Very good and insightful article. I love rocking chairs. And, thank you for clarifying the stigma that it is only for "old people" as many can enjoy the benefits of this chair.

      For Fibromyalgia sufferers, the act of rocking helps reduce stiffness caused by prolonged sitting.

      Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Denise, what an awesome hub! I don't own a rocker, but I rock myself to sleep at night (much to my poor husband's distress on occasion) when I'm under a great deal of stress. I also suffer a great deal of lower back pain, and the bit about endorphins released during rocking may just spur me on to purchase a rocker. Up and awesome! What a neat hub to hop across! Thank you!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      9 years ago from Wales

      Whay a great hub denise and your hard work has certainly paid off.

      I push all the buttons and rate up here.

      Take care


    • VioletSun profile image


      9 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      Denise, I suspected that the movement of a rocking chair has to be healthy; we have a leather recliner that rocks near the fish tank, and when I feel unbalanced I like to go that spot of the living room. Heat also relaxes me. Good to find out that rocking is indeed therapeutic. Maybe when we remodel our rooms, I will invest in a real rocking chair.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you chasemillis-wow, you're quick-I just posted this. 40 years, eh? That's funny, LOL

      BTW-I love the avatar outfit!

    • chasemillis profile image


      9 years ago

      Very Good hub, I'll keep it in mind in about 40 years. Lots of information on here, great job!! Voted UP!!!


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