Glider vs Rocker Recliner: Which Is Better? 

If there’s a piece of furniture that can transform your home and health – either for the good or the bad – it would be a recliner. Should you ever find yourself lost in the rocker vs glider recliner debate, don’t make a purchasing decision until you are aware of your options for both. 

Many people make the mistake of assuming the differences between the two types of chairs aren’t significant. Eventually, they end up making a decision that they come to regret later. Don’t fall into the same trap. 

To help you understand these two better, I will explore the key areas where they differ the most. 

Rating Criteria 

  • Range of Motion/Movement
  • Versatility
  • Comfort 
  • Uses 

Rocker vs Glider Recliner: Is One Better Than The Other? 

Overall, the question of which is best between these two will come down to your needs and taste. For example, if you are looking for a better range of motion or a chair that’s more therapeutic, a rocker recliner will be ideal, and if you care a lot about comfort or want a chair that can adapt to various uses, a glider recliner fits the bill. The decision is all yours. 

What Is The Difference Between A Rocker And A Glider Recliner? – Buying Guide & Reviews

1. Range Of Motion/Movement 

What Is The Difference Between A Rocker And A Glider Recliner? - Buying Guide & Reviews

This has to do with how a chair moves and what movements it can make. As you decide whether a rocker or glider caters to your specific needs, this factor will guide you into making the right decision. 

For example, a child’s caregiver will want a chair that turns 360 degrees to the left and right so they can easily keep tabs on what’s happening around the room. An insomniac, on the other hand, will want a chair that rocks them forward and backward in a smooth motion.

So, how do these two fare with regard to movements? 

Rocker Recliner

Rocking recliners create a motion similar to that of a traditional rocking chair. They rock in an arch pattern, moving back and forth as a swing would. If you apply more gravity and increase your speed, the chair will rock harder, giving you a better range of motion.

Unfortunately, such recliners can typically only recline or rock back and forth. 

Glider Recliner 

Gliders slide forward and backward to create a soothing motion. Its movements almost resemble those of a rocker chair, except that glider motions are more controlled and much smoother. 

These recliners won’t typically offer you a range of motion that’s as wide as that of a rocker, but that doesn’t make them any less good. It’s just a design factor that makes them suitable for different circumstances.

The best thing about glider recliners has to be the many movements they can make. Some can recline, glide, swivel and stay stationary at a position of your liking. 

Verdict: On this front, no option does it better than the other; it’s a split. Rockers provide a much better range of motion in their back-and-forth movements while gliders can move in many ways, allowing the user to adjust to various positions. 

2. Versatility

Versatility relates to how useful, functional, and practical a recliner is. As much as this comes down to the manufacturer, there are still one or two core differences that impact the rocker vs glider debate on this front. 

Rocker Recliner

Just as the name says, this kind of chair rocks and reclines. When it’s not reclined, the chair rocks back and forth. 

Some manufacturers go the extra mile to add multiple positions to the recliner function. You could adjust it to a lay-flat position or bring it to an assisted standing position. 

It’s almost impossible to find an option that rocks, reclines, and swivels but the Winston Porter Recliner Chair does all that and works at the press of a button. 

Glider Recliner 

rocker vs glider recliner

Most glider recliners have more than two functions. They not only recline and glide but also swivel and can be kept stationary via a locking mechanism. 

The Finley Gliding Recliner from La-Z-Boy and Aayan Swivel Reclining Glider are some of the best options on the market today. 

Just like rockers, there are models that can recline into various positions and those limited to only one or two positions. 

This versatility attracts people who have trouble balancing their bodies or standing. Even nursery caregivers and pregnant women particularly like this. 

Unfortunately, for both chairs, you cannot engage the footrest while the chair rocks or glides. 

Verdict: On versatility, gliders are straight-up winners. There’s more for the user to experience and explore on this chair than when they are in a rocker. 

3. Comfort 

Comfort in this context is understood as how a recliner makes you feel. Here are some questions you should ask yourself as we continue to explore whether you need a glider or rocker.

  • Is the recliner compatible with your individual needs? 
  • Do you feel relaxed in it? 
  • Can you sit on the chair for long periods of time without feeling fatigued?
  • Does it have well-cushioned arms?
  • Is the back high enough to support your neck and head?

Both recliners come in various styles, shapes, and sizes. Materials, too, differ from model to model. It’s up to you to decide which option feels most comfortable and suits your intended use. Make this step easier by learning as much as you can about the various types of recliners.

As different as they are, there are a few areas where these two recliners differ in relation to comfort. 

Rocker Recliner

Most rockers require a bit of force to keep the motion going. Since you have the ability to intensify the rocking motion, you also have to use physical effort to maintain the movement of the chair. This can make you feel tired after a while; nevertheless, lots of people still find the calming rocking motion soothing. 

Glider Recliner

Glider recliners are much easier to operate. They move along a fixed path that provides a gentler rocking movement, and since the range is limited, very little effort is needed to maintain the gliding motion. 

The majority of these recliners also come with a locking mechanism. This feature stabilizes the chair when you adjust it to your desired position. It also allows you to lock the chair as needed, meaning you can maintain a position you feel most comfortable in. That’s a function most rocker recliners lack. 

Verdict: Gliders can provide you with more comfort because they require little to no effort to operate. Plus, they have a mechanism that gives you full control over the chair’s movement. Couple that with its versatility and you have the ultimate comfortable recliner. 

4. Uses 

These two types of recliners are designed and equipped differently. That means each is best suited for certain uses. By now, you already have a good idea of what to expect from each, but this section will help you narrow down your search to the most suitable option for your specific purposes.

Rocker Recliner

Rockers are mostly used as therapeutic chairs. The rocking motion they offer has a positive impact on people who have trouble finding sleep. Babies would also benefit from this movement because it’s soothing and gentle. 

Not too long ago, this was the preferred chair for pregnant women and caregivers but there’s been a gradual shift to glider recliners in recent years and I’ll show you why. 

Glider Recliner 

Gliders have more uses because they can often recline, swivel, glide, and be locked in a specific position. 

Anyone who has trouble balancing or standing up will find this chair more convenient than a rocking chair. You may have to use your arms to balance, but the effort is very little compared to what is needed to maintain a rocking motion. 

Pregnant women love this type of chair because it offers various positions to choose between. It’s important to maintain good posture during pregnancy to avoid aches, pains, fatigue, and other health complications. 

Mothers nursing babies and children’s caregivers also prefer gliders because most of them automatically swivel or can be locked into a specific position. Imagine having to get up and turn every time you want to see what your child is up to! The swivel function saves you from that. 

Also, when you need to get up from a recliner while holding a baby, a safer option would be one with a locking mechanism. You can bring it to a straight position, lock it and then get up with ease, not worried that you could make a movement that will wake up the child. 

Verdict: Both recliners are suited for various situations, but if you want an option that can adapt to various uses, a glider would be more suitable. That said, both chairs can help you deal with back pains, sleep better, unwind in comfort and style, and transform your space.

Glider vs Rocker: Parting Thoughts 

I believe you are now well-informed about both types of chairs. This isn’t an either/or situation with these two recliners. You can get both if you feel each suits your different needs and preferences, but if you have no budget or space for both and you have to narrow down to just one of the two, I suggest you list your most pressing needs and the preferences you cannot sacrifice. 

Just to remind you, glider recliners perform far better than rockers when it comes to comfort, versatility, and uses. If you need a better range of motion or a chair that will help you sleep faster and better, opt for a rocker recliner. 

It’s now your time to make a move. Hopefully, the links we provided at the beginning of this comparison will make shopping easier for you.