Sitting on the Floor:
Posture, Health Benefits,
and Cautions

Lady sitting on the floor

Chairs are overrated — it’s time to get back to sitting on the floor and relying on our own bodies for support.

The floor used to be our territory. Our parents watched in excitement as we sat up on our own for the first time, our tiny muscles barely strong enough to support the weight of our upper body. Sitting on the floor was our reality; we didn’t know any other option. We all crawled around, putting our mouths on anything that caught our attention. When we wanted to relax, we sat up, observing the world around us.

Somewhere down the line, we began sitting on chairs, which removed the need to use certain muscles — muscles we developed and relied on as babies. Nowadays when we sit on the floor, our muscles quickly start to ache, causing us to slouch. What started as a natural sitting position for us has turned into a strenuous and forceful activity.

Luckily, this isn’t a permanent consequence of sitting on chairs. We can go back to our sitting roots at any time and sit on the floor as we did as babies. Read on to learn whether sitting on the floor is good for you, and find out the benefits and cautions of this sitting style.

Benefits of Sitting on the Floor

Sitting on the floor actually aids skeletal support, leading to better posture, improved spinal conditions, and relief from back-related pain. The muscles needed to sit comfortably on the floor take time and conscious effort to develop. As we aren’t accustomed to sitting on the floor, the discomfort often motivates us to seek out a chair, leaving us wondering how we ever managed without one.

As our bodies age, we naturally gravitate toward more comfortable seating positions. This makes sense, as the muscles we use when sitting have already been formed and do not require further development. Nevertheless, there are certain health benefits to be had from sitting on the floor. These are some of the benefits of sitting on the floor.

Benefits for your posture

Benefits for Your Posture

Many adults sit in chairs an average of 10 hours per day. This constant sitting can increase the strain and stress on your back, neck, arms, and legs. Additionally, prolonged sitting adds pressure to back muscles and spinal discs, and sitting in a slouched position can overstretch the spinal ligaments.

Benefits for Your Longevity

As you get up from sitting on the floor and then sit back down, you are continually exercising your core, legs, and back. Studies also show that this constant activity has a proven connection to living a longer life. The up-and-down movement of getting up or sitting down on the floor also mimics squat exercises, which can help increase blood flow, boost blood circulation, and raise energy levels.

Benefits for your spine structure

Benefits for Your Spine Structure

When you sit on the floor, your body naturally wants to straighten your spine and push your shoulders back while also helping stabilize your core muscles. Sitting cross-legged on the floor naturally curves your upper and lower back, helping ease back pain while strengthening your lower back muscles. This cross-legged position also stretches your hip flexors, which eases tight and stiff hips.

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Possible Side Effects of Floor Sitting

While there are many benefits of sitting on the floor, there are some possible side effects. These side effects can include:

Joint pressure
If you aren’t sitting on the floor with proper posture, your body weight can put excess pressure on your hip, knee, and ankle joints.

Poor blood circulation
While the motion of standing up and sitting back down can increase blood circulation, sitting on the floor for too long can reduce blood circulation in your legs and feet. When this happens, you may find that your lower limbs fall asleep before you stand back up or shift positions.

Joint pressure
When you sit on the floor, try to keep your back straight and shoulders back to maintain proper posture. If you start to slouch, you will miss out on the benefits of floor sitting and could even make back pain worse.

Comfortable Floor-Sitting Positions

There are a few different ways you can sit on the floor. Most sitting positions have similar benefits and many people will rotate through different sitting options when they are sitting on the floor. Here are some of the main positions that people use when sitting on the floor.

Sitting Positions Cross Legged

Cross-Legged

This is the most common and comfortable position. Referred to in yoga circles as “easy pose” or “sukhasana,” it’s designed to stretch the muscles, improve posture, and bring peace of mind.

Squatting

Squatting provides the most flexibility to move around and participate in physical activities. The goal is to place the heels on the ground, taking pressure off of the knees and thighs.

Kneeling

This is accomplished by resting on the lower legs and sitting on your heels. It’s both a yoga position (kneeling pose) and a formal way to sit in Japan.

Long Sitting

If you’ve ever seen a doll sitting, you know what long sitting looks like. To sit on the floor this way, sit down and put your legs straight out in front of you. Flex your feet and point your toes up. Keep your core over your hips to maintain proper posture.

Side Sitting

To sit in a side sit, place your feet flat on the floor then rotate your legs left or right until your knees are on the floor. Your legs will slightly resemble a “Z” when you are sitting correctly. Do not stack your legs on top of each other. Instead, the bottom of one foot should rest against the thigh of the other leg.

Bent Sitting

A bent sitting position is best done when you have something to lean against to support your back. In a bent sit, your feet are on the floor, your knees are bent, and your feet are spaced slightly wider than your hips. You still want to keep your back straight when sitting on the floor this way to protect your posture.

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Cautions for Sitting on the Floor

There are some side effects to sitting on the floor, and precautions you should take. To prevent any pain or injuries, be aware of these things while you are on the floor:

  • Kneeling puts extra stress on your joints and can be particularly painful for your knees. Occasionally
    shift your kneeling position to prevent pain or numbness.
  • If you have poor posture while sitting cross-legged on the floor, it can worsen lower back and hip pain.
  • You may feel unstable when in a squatting position. You can use walls or furniture to balance yourself
    or as you stand up. If you feel any knee or ankle pain in this seated position, find a different way to sit
    on the floor.
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When Is It Appropriate to Sit on the Floor?

Now, you may be wondering when you would even find an opportunity to sit on the ground. It’s not like you can do it in the middle of work — at least, not without attracting some strange looks from your colleagues! There are, of course, activities that lend themselves to sitting on the floor such as watching TV, playing card games, reading a book, and even eating dinner.

The idea of eating on the floor may sound odd at first. You may be concerned about dirt or general uncleanliness. That’s why, in many floor-sitting cultures, it’s important to take your shoes off before entering someone’s home. It’s also why you’ll usually find a rug on the ground in places where there’s no carpet. Eating off the floor can also make you feel more grounded and in touch with the earth. Plus, think of the money you’ll save on chairs!
When is it appropriate to sit on the floor

Change the Way You Sit

It may be difficult at first to start sitting on the floor more often. Your body isn’t accustomed to sitting on a hard surface and you don’t have anything to lean against except your own will. Your muscles may ache as they are forced to support the full weight of your body. But with regular practice, you’ll be able to sit on the floor quite comfortably and for longer periods. From now on, whenever you’re sitting on the floor or in a chair, work on improving your posture by straightening your back and dropping your shoulders. This will make it easier to support your body weight when you sit for longer periods and you’ll feel much more comfortable and confident in yourself.