Many of us spend most of the day sitting on chairs or sofas. In fact, you’re probably sitting in one as you read this.

But some people sit on the floor instead. Often, this is part of their daily lifestyle. For example, in some cultures, it’s customary to sit on the floor while eating.

Other people like to sit on the floor due to its purported benefits. The practice is said to improve flexibility and mobility, as it allows you to actively stretch your lower body. It’s also thought to promote natural stabilization of your core muscles.

Yet, when done incorrectly, floor sitting could cause pain and discomfort. This is especially likely if already have joint issues.

Let’s look at the possible benefits and drawbacks of floor sitting, along with common positions you can try.

The potential advantages of sitting on the floor include:

  • Encourages natural stability. Without the support of a chair, floor sitting forces you to engage your core for stabilization.
  • Less hip tension. Prolonged chair sitting can make your hips tight and stiff. But when you sit on the floor, you can easily stretch your hip flexors.
  • Increased flexibility. Seated positions allow you to stretch your lower body muscles.
  • Increased mobility. As you actively stretch certain muscles, your mobility will improve.
  • More muscle activity. Some postures, like kneeling and squatting, are “active rest” positions. They require more muscle activity than sitting in a chair.

Although sitting on the floor may have benefits, doing it incorrectly could cause problems. Potential side effects include:

  • Extra stress on your joints. In some positions, the weight of your upper body is placed on your lower limbs. This can put pressure on your knees and ankles.
  • Reduced blood circulation. The load of your upper body may also decrease circulation in your lower limbs.
  • Poor posture. It’s important to avoid slouching. Otherwise, you may develop or worsen postural issues and back pain.
  • Exacerbating existing joint problems. Sitting on the floor may not be ideal if you have existing issues in your hips, knees, or ankles.
  • Problems standing back up. Similarly, joint issues could make it difficult to get off the floor.

If you’d like to sit on the floor, try the following sitting positions. It may take some time to discover what’s most comfortable for you.


Kneeling is a common floor position with many variations. To kneel on the floor:

  1. Start standing. Step one leg behind you. Shift your weight to the front leg.
  2. Slowly lower your back knee to the ground, keeping your toes on the floor and ankle flexed.
  3. Place your shoulders over your hips. Lower your front knee to the floor.
  4. Place your knees shoulder-width apart. Rest your buttocks on your heels.

From here, you can place the tops of your ankles on the floor, one by one. Your buttocks will rest on the soles of your feet. This position is called “seiza” in Japanese culture.

To reduce pressure on your knees, you can bend one knee and plant your foot on the floor. Another option is to kneel on a mat.


Another popular floor position is sitting cross-legged. To do it:

  1. Sit on the floor. Bend both your knees, moving them outward. Place one foot under the opposite knee.
  2. Shift your weight to your hips, instead of your feet. Place your belly over your hips.
  3. To decrease pressure on your hips, you can sit on the edge of a folded blanket. You can also place cushions beneath your knees.

Bent sit

If you have knee or ankle discomfort, try the bent sit:

  1. Sit on the floor. Bend both your knees, planting your feet on the floor.
  2. Place your feet wider than hip-width apart. A wider stance will prevent you from rounding your back.
  3. Keep your belly over your hips.

Side sit

From the bent sit, you can move into the side sit or “z-sit.” This position will stretch your inner thighs:

  1. Start in bent sit. Lower both your knees to the right and place them on the floor.
  2. Rest the bottom of your right foot against the front of your left thigh.
  3. Keep both hips on the floor, which will help keep your spine neutral.
  4. Repeat in the opposite direction.

Long sit

The long sit stretches your quad muscles. To sit in this posture:

  1. Sit on the floor. Extend your legs straight ahead. Flex your toes, pointing them upward.
  2. Keep your belly over your hips.
  3. Sit on the edge of a folded blanket to avoid rounding your back.

From the long sit, you can also place your legs wider than shoulder-width apart. This is called straddle sit.


Squatting, or the squat sit, allows you to easily move between standing and floor positions. To sit in this posture:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Plant your feet on the floor.
  2. Slowly lower your buttocks until it’s just above the floor.
  3. Keep your shoulders and chest upright.

To avoid pain or injury, pay attention to your body. Here’s what you should be aware of while sitting in:

Seiza (kneeling)

Seiza, or kneeling, can place stress on your knees and ankle joints. The deep knee flexion can also irritate the cartilage in your knees.

Change positions if your lower limbs feel painful or numb. You can also try sitting on one knee by placing one foot on the floor.


Squatting is less stable than other positions because your buttocks remain above the floor. Therefore, it requires more muscle activity and balance. It also involves extreme knee flexion.

If you have difficulty staying stable, hold onto a wall or couch for balance. Move into another position if you feel ankle or knee pain.


If done incorrectly, sitting cross-legged can worsen low back pain and poor posture.

To prevent this, avoid hunching your back while sitting cross-legged. Keep your spine in a neutral position.

Also, keep your weight on your hips instead of your feet. This will reduce pressure on your ankle joints.

If you spend a lot of time sitting in a chair, sitting on the floor may be of benefit. It can help stretch the muscles in your lower body. Be mindful of your posture, though. Keep your belly over your hips to avoid slouching your back.

Regardless of where you sit, avoid staying in one position for too long. Change positions if you experience pain or discomfort.