Sitting posture: 10 reasons why your pelvis is not in the correct position

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Why does the position of the pelvis matter?

A correctly placed pelvis is the foundation of a good sitting posture.

Without your pelvis being in the right position, it is very difficult (… perhaps even impossible!) to have good posture.

By addressing the pelvis, you are giving your body the opportunity to adopt the best possible posture.

If you find that you are developing pain and/or stiffness in your body after sitting all day, your sitting posture may be the root cause of it all!

How do most people sit?

If you are like the vast majority of people who slouch, you probably sit with your pelvis in position called a Posterior pelvic tilt.

This is where the pelvis is tilted backwards (see above).

This cause a domino effect of bad posture in the whole body!

What is the ideal position of the pelvis?

  • The pelvis should be in a neutral position.
  • There should be even distribution of your weight spread between both buttocks.
  • Avoid sitting with a Rotated pelvis.
    • Your knees should be equal distance away from you

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The 10 reasons why you don’t position your pelvis properly

(…And exercises to fix it!)

1. A lack of understanding on how to position the pelvis

There are these pointy bones at the bottom of your pelvis called the ischial tuberosities (… let’s call them your Sit bones).

To place your pelvis in a neutral position, try to “Sit on your Sit bones”.

How to sit on your Sit bones

  • Locate the Sit bones:
    • Whilst sitting down, slide your hands underneath your hip.
    • Feel for a bony prominence.
  • Visualize these bones as upside down triangles.
  • Tilt your pelvis forwards and backwards.
    • As you are doing this, feel for when the sit bones protrude into your hands the most.
    • This corresponds to when your pelvis is in the neutral position.
  • The aim is to sit directly on top of the point of the triangle.

Note: Most people tend to sit with their tail bone tucked underneath (Posterior pelvic tilt) and sit behind their sit bones.

2. Poor pelvis control

If you are unable to completely control your pelvis, it can be difficult to move your pelvis into the ideal position.

The following exercise will help strengthen your Psoas muscle:

Video from RehabMyPatient.

Instructions:

  • Sit down on a chair.
  • Proceed to tilt your pelvis forwards and backwards.
  • Avoid excessive movements of your torso.
    • (Only the pelvis should be moving.)
  • Repeat 30 times.

3. Incorrect chair

How can you position your pelvis correctly if the chair that you sit on does not support you?

a) Seat Height

  • a) Your hip and knees must be at a 90-100 degrees angle.
  • b) Your feet must be flat on the floor.
    • (If you have shorter legs, consider using a foot stool)
  • c) Your hips should be slightly higher than your knees.

b) Seat tilt

The seat of the chair should be flat or tilted slightly forward.

This will help promote the most neutral position of the pelvis.

c) Get a better chair!

If you are looking to get a new chair, make sure you know what you should be looking for.

Check out this post: Characteristics of a good office chair


Download my FREE ebook:
How to set up your work station
(An ergonomic work station is important!)


4. Tight hamstrings

Tight hamstrings (especially the upper region) will pull your pelvis into a posterior pelvic tilt whilst in a seated position.

a) Upper hamstring

stretches for the hamstring

Instructions:

  • Whilst standing, place a bent knee on a block in front of you.
  • Bend forward by hinging at the hips.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in the upper region of the hamstrings.
  • Remember to keep your back straight!
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

b) Lower/mid hamstring

Instructions:

  • Whilst standing, place your straightened leg in front of you on a block.
  • Keep your foot pointed.
  • Bend forward by hinging at the hips.
  • Keep your back straight.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in the lower/mid region of the hamstrings.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

5. Tight gluteal muscles

glute stretch

Instructions:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
  • Place your left ankle on the right knee.
  • Grab your right knee and pull towards your chest.
  • Aim to feel a stretch at the back of your left hip.
  • Ensure that you arch your lower back to increase the stretch.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Alternate sides.

6. Poor lumbar spine strength

The main muscles responsible for tilting your pelvis into a good position are called your lower back erectors.

If these muscles are weak or inhibited, it will be difficult to get your pelvis into a neutral position.

Back Extensions

Instructions:

  • Lie on the floor with your arms reach out in front of you.
  • Lift up both arms and legs in the air.
  • Aim to feel a contraction of the muscles in your lower back.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Repeat 20 times.

7. Weak core muscles

Once you have achieved a neutral position of the pelvis whilst sitting, the body relies on strong core muscles to maintain this position.

a) Dead bug exercise

Instructions:

  • Lie on your back with your knee and hip bent at 90 degrees
    • (Horizontal sitting position)
  • Engage the core and abdominal muscles throughout all movements.
    • (Think about drawing your belly button down into your spine.)
  • Keeping your right knee bent towards your chest, slowly lower AND straighten the left leg towards the ground.
  • Only lower as far as you can whilst maintaining your lower back completely flat on the ground.
    • A small amount of arch in the lower back is fine.
  • Aim to feel the contraction of your abdominal wall.
  • Return back to starting position.
  • Alternate legs.
  • Repeat 10 times.

8. Lack of hip flexion

Adequate hip flexion mobility is required when sitting down.

If you lack flexion in the hip joint (and/or have hip impingement), your body will compensate by tilting your pelvis backwards as you sit down.

Hip joint traction

Video from Generation Care.

Instructions:

  • Lie on the floor in the position as shown.
  • Anchor a thick resistance band to a stationary object.
  • Flex your hip to 90 degrees.
  • Wrap the resistance band as high up into the hip crease as possible.
  • Move your whole body further away from the anchor point.
    • This to create tension on the band.
  • Hold onto your knee with your hands.
  • Keep the hip completely relaxed.
  • Hold for 1-2 minutes.
  • Alternate sides.

9. Lack of lumbar spine extension

If you have a stiff lower back, this may prevent your pelvis from moving into the correct position when sitting.

Lower back extension stretch

Instructions:

  • Lie on your stomach.
  • Place hands on floor directly under shoulders.
  • Straighten your elbows.
  • Arch backwards.
    •  (Note: Be careful if you have lower back issues)
  • Aim to feel a stretch across your abdominal region.
  • Breathe and expand your stomach as you stretch.
  • Hold for 60 seconds.

10. Large belly size

If you tend to have a large stomach, this will create a physical block between your pelvis and thighs.

If you fall into this category, I suggest that you sit from a slightly higher chair so that the angle between your thigh and body is around 120 degrees.

This is to make sure your knees are lower than your hips to provide enough room around the front of the pelvis to move into the neutral position.

Alternatively – you can try using a kneeling chair.


Conclusion:

  • If you sit for a long period of time, it is important to maintain the optimal position of the pelvis.
  • Your entire posture is based on how the pelvis sits.
  • Aim to “Sit on your Sit bones” by tilting your pelvis forward.
  • Consider addressing these 10 reasons why it is difficult to maintain correct position of the pelvis.

What to do next:

1. Any questions?… (Leave me a comment down below.)

2. Come join me on the Facebook page. Let’s keep in touch!

3. Sit with the correct pelvis position.

About

I am a physiotherapist who has personally experienced the pain as a result of bad posture. I would like to offer you some of the solutions that I and my patients have greatly benefited from.

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62 thoughts on “Sitting posture: 10 reasons why your pelvis is not in the correct position

  1. Thanks for your post. The back of my legs only toward the upper area, feel a constant dull ache. I read your post thoroughly and am going to try to exercises you provided.
    But so far your site provided me with the most helpful information. I appreciate that!

  2. Hello Mark,

    Your work is really helpful. I was wondering if you offer any online assessment as a service, aside from the free ones you offer on Fb. I am sure it’s worth the price.

    1. Hey Eric,

      Unfortunately – I don’t offer that service at the moment.

      But out of curiosity, how much do you think a online assessment is worth?

      Thanks in advanced.

      Mark

  3. hey Man, super article, one query why do you in point 9 say s Lower back extension stretch, it is not a stretch ? or is it ? Kindly advice

  4. Hey Mark!
    Thanks for your awesome information! It’s very challenging to grasp.
    About Back Extensions: is the head resting on the floor?
    Best regards,
    Anthony

  5. Hi Mark,
    Thank you very much for what you have written in your blog. They are really good articles. You are so nice shared so much with us! I will try to read as much as I can. Wish you all the best!

  6. Hi Mark,

    This is interesting, thanks. I just can’t seem to sit well even practicing the stretches above, although they help. My pelvis always tilts so I am sitting behind my sits bones and my shoulders crawl forward and my spine is hunched after a short period of sitting. Would strengthening abdominals help?

    Thanks, Jane

    1. Hi Jane,

      Strengthening your core muscles will help with the sitting.

      You may also need to look else in your posture to see if it making it more difficult to sit correctly. A common tight area is the thoracic spine.

      Check out this post: Hunchback posture.

      Mark

  7. Hello,
    For Years I have been dealing with a bulging disk that when my back flares up it will automatically go criqute. But this time around my back feels somewhat tilted to the left side and I have been feeling it more recent a lot I’m always trying to stretch or maybe tighten my abs to help me stand straight. Do you think I should get my back aligned or my hip is off. Since you can see the difference from my hips . My husband thinks maybe because I carry my toddler on my left side all the time but now my arm is hurting me a lot .

  8. Mark thank you so much for all your information. It has helped me, and I have been pain free for 3 months now. The only problem I have is the “sofa,” we tend to relax and all posture goes to hell. So using your information I’ve been sitting on a chair. So my question Mark is, “Is there a way to sit comfortably on a sofa or anywhere else that I could relax without hurting my back, that is not my bed. And is there a better sleeping position, for the back?’

    1. Hey Tina,

      Glad to hear that you’re pain free now!

      It is quite hard to sit with good posture on a sofa. I usually recommend to just side lie on it. (Just make sure your head is supported properly)

      For sleeping position, check out this post: Best sleeping position.

      Mark

  9. Hey Mark,

    I started having lower back pain and sciatica over a year ago. 31 years old, played basketball for 1-2 hours a day almost every day, until it got to the point where the pain was too much to run. 2.5 months ago it got to the point where it was painful to walk, so I got an MRI which showed a bulging disc & herniation. My PT only did stretching which got me nowhere, until my bro in law (an ex physical trainer) checked me out and concluded I had 0 muscle in my legs. I started doing a workout regimen 3 wks ago and already feel much better, but I do notice (my acupuncturist did as well) that my right pelvic bone is out while my left is in. Any advice? Btw, I saw 3 PTs, 2 chiros that all obsessed with and tried to fix the “disc issue”, while the real issues were my muscles
    and my alignment / pelvis. Any feedback would be awesome.

  10. Hi Mark,
    Thank you for your articles on sitting as well as lateral pelvic tilt!!! Can a tight hip flexor, quad or IT band be enough to cause SI joint dysfunction? …I’ve been dealing with SIJD for quite some time and often after a few days of improvement from a chiropractic adjustments, the joint slips right back out of alignment…often at night, waking me up, even though I sleep on my back on a firm mattress and am wearing an SI belt. Tonight I noticed slight tightness in my lateral quad after it happened. I’ve been stretching and strengthening glutes, core, and pelvic floor to try to fix this. Any thoughts on how to prevent my SIJD?

    1. Hi Monica,

      With SIJ issues, it is either too compressed or too loose. What exercises you will do will depend on this.

      If you are wearing a SI belt, I will assume the chiropractor has assessed that your SI is too loose.

      Any muscle that controls pelvis movements can affect the SIJ.

      In general (but not limited to), the glute max exercises are the way to go for this.

      Mark

  11. Hi mark.
    your article is great and i want to ask that m having pain while sitting in pelvis it’s because of prolonged sitting in office with tailbone tucked in by which i also feel difficulty in urination and defecation i think that position has tightened my pelvic muscles any suggestions will be great help thanks

  12. Love the article! I have been struggling with lower back pain and can’t tell if I have anterior or posterior pelvic tilt or swayback or something else.
    I feel like certain stretches contradict each other depending on what you have (ex. APT: don’t stretch hamstrings…PVT: stretch hamstrings, don’t stretch hip flexors)

    I’m not sure what I have but I would say I have a flat back but I feel like my pelvis has an anterior shift. Any advice on what to do?

    Love your articles, super helpful. thanks!

  13. Hi Mark,

    I have been looking for anything more on neural tension on your site, given your reference to it here. I get that ‘neural’ pain when I try to stretch my hamstrings before I think I am really stretching the muscle, but my attempts at ‘stretching it out’ don’t seem to work and I am not even at 90º let long touching my toes!

    Do you have more advice or information you could refer me to on that topic?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Tams,

      If you have neural tension, you can try flossing/gliding the nerve:
      (See image)

      More importantly, make sure you do not have anterior pelvic tilt as this will over stretch your hamstring area.
      Post: Anterior pelvic tilt

      Any nerve irritations along the spine can cause neural tension in the leg as well.

      Mark

  14. hello Mark,

    Interesting how you dont hint at week abdominals or tight hip flexors.

    When im sitting incorrectly i notice i have the tenancy to anteriorly pelvic tilt which actual gives me thoracic pain as well a tight spinal erectors.

    To compensate i have to engage core and “tuck” my pelvis to bring it back to neutral.

      1. What’s your facebook name? i have some questions i would like to ask about my posture and knee/hip. Please!

    1. I stand with me knees somewhat bent backwards (always have). I have a flat butt and my stomachs does protrude. I am 5’6 female 162 lbs. I carry most of my weight in stomached and chest. I have been working at a desk job now for 3 years. Sometimes when I do stand to do certain things I will tend to slightly arch my back and have a painful lower back spasm in the arch of my back. When I stand up after sitting it will hurt. And even hurts when I sleep. I mostly try to sleep on my side with a pillow between my knees. Sadly I am pretty seditary right now. I am 45 and feeling like I am 80. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I also have had fallen arches and hypermobile issues in my right foot that resulted in a bunionectomy with fusion (lapidus mcbride procedure) in 2009. The surgery was successful and helped.

  15. Hello. I love and so needed your article. I’m 44 now and was injured in a car accident when I was about 13. I’ve had 1 child who is now 21. As like no as I could remember when I started having organ exams I’ve been told my pelvic was tilted. I never received treatment from the auto accident (perhaps my mother didn’t think we were injured but she received years of treatment) and I just learned this week that I have issues with pelvic tilt and hip crookedness. However my lower pelvis tilts backward causing me to kind of walk with my butt on my back ( only way to describe it). It’s outward. I’m going to start chiropractic treatments to hopefully correct these issues. In your field, have you seen these things corrected and how long does it take with a few treatments or alignments a week? Desperately trying to correct my walk, stand, posture and my butt appearance.

  16. This has been extremely helpful- thank you! Wpull you recommend sitting on a pillow/towel in a char to elevate the hips a bit if your chair dips down on the buttocks? I know I have to sit elevated on the floor in yoga and that helps but I want to make sure it is the same concept before doing more damage…

  17. Thank you for this treasure trove of posture help Mark! I’ve been in constant pain for years, and now I feel like I’m on the right track. I am enjoying your kind and clear writing style too. Summer blessings to you!:-)

  18. this website is amazing… thanks so much for taking the time to be so thorough about the why’s and how’s and sharing this with the public. I’ve been reading a lot of this over the past few days, and I’m going to start many of these exercises today. Thank you !!!!!!!

      1. Hello, I have a clicky hip.
        Can it be ‘fixed’ forever with exercise alone, as per ALL the chiropractors, physios and wonderfully intended health people?
        I’m pretty sick of forever exercising all the time. I’m 50. Weigh 60kg.
        Just wondering.

        1. Hey Swizz,

          What is the exact cause of your clicky hip?

          This will direct which SPECIFIC exercise you should do to completely eliminate the issue.

          Mark

          1. Hi Sue,

            I would get this assessed in person by a health professional.

            It could be hip arthrosis, labral issues, poor control of hip musculature, misaligned pelvis over hip bones, tendons flicking over a bony prominence.

            Depending on the cause of a clicking hip will determine what you should do next.

            Mark

    1. Hi Aryan,

      You will need to engage your glute muscles to rotate your pelvis backwards (“tuck your tail bone underneath you”) whilst you perform the hip flexor stretch.

      Keep your abdominals slightly engaged will help maintain a good alignment of your pelvis as well.

      Mark

  19. Thank you so much! I have had problems with a flat to spine causing heart palpitations and back pain for almost 25 years an’s I didn’t realize how I sit on my pelvis could affect that. I also have trouble with my legs falling asleep while sitting and getting sharp zinging pains in my toes. I tried a few of these exercises and it was obvious immediately that my hips are tight and contributing to the problem. I think what you wrote here will really help me. Thank you.

    1. Hi Tabitha,

      Thanks for the comment.

      Without a good position of your pelvis, it is very difficult to achieve good posture.

      Remember to have a look around at the other posts on the blog if you haven’t already 🙂

      Mark

  20. Hi, thank you so much for this!! I study yoga insruction ( first year out of two) and this is so useful for me and for my students. Thank you for the time and consideration.:-)

  21. I am so glad I found your site! My current job which I have had for a few months is completely desk based. I sit for 8 hours at my desk, and another hour or so on the train each day. I have definitely noticed an anterior pelvic tilt and wanted to sort it out sooner rather than later. Very useful and detailed information so I really know what I am doing about my posture problems (and why!). Only thing is some of these stretches hurt- ouch! I suppose they will get easier the more I do them. Thanks so much Mark.

  22. Thanks Mark for this advice.

    One problem I have that when I sit to read, I like to have my book close to my face. Is there a way to do that without crouching forward? Bending the whole upper body, forward, but keeping the back straight?

    Thanks and all the best
    Florian

    1. Hi Florian,
      Always maintain the upright posture as suggested here.
      If you like to read with the book close to your face, make sure that your elbows are supported at the appropriate level as to prevent a neutral head position.

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