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

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:

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


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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

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.

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

  1. Hi I have great difficulty sitting cross legged. It hurts my knees front thigh, inner thigh and hips. I can’t sit up straight unless I’m sat on a blanket or block. What could be causing this. Any advice.

    Reply
    • Hi Ibolya,

      It sounds like you might have limited hip external rotation when your hips are in a flexed position.

      If you check out this post and scroll down to Hip External rotation, there are some exercises there might help you out.

      Mark

      Reply
  2. Hello Mark I have an issue where when I sit in a cross legged position (Indian style) or straight leg position on the floor my pelvis is locked into posterior rotation and my lower back rounds out. I’m unable to sit upright properly, move my pelvis, or bend forward in this scenario. I’m unsure as to what could be causing it because I never had such an issue a year or so ago. Any ideas on what could be the culprit? I’m also unable to keep my entire back flat against a wall while standing I have to rotate my pelvis to make my lower back flat and my upper shoulder region won’t completely touch either.

    Reply
    • Hey Anthony,

      There are several reasons for the things you have mentioned.

      1. Lack of hip external rotation will make it difficult to sit up right in a crossed leg position.
      2. Tight hamstrings can make it difficult to tilt the pelvis forwards when long sitting. See: Hamstring stretches
      3. If you can’t flatten your back against the wall, this might suggest that your upper back is rounded. See: HunchbackMark

      Reply
  3. Hello Mark,

    I’m feeling uncomfortable at my legs when I straighten them while lying down, it’s like they can’t relax, and I was wondering if it was because of hip flexors tightness?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hey Gerrard,

      It very well could be.

      One way to test is to do some hip flexor stretches before you sleep (or throughout the day) and see if that makes a difference.

      Mark

      Reply
  4. Hello, with the current Stay at Home order, I am sitting often everyday on my bed cross legged and my knees are higher than my hips as my bum sinks into the mattress a bit as they would be in on the floor in a crossed legged position too. I am now wondering if this a bad position to be in. Most cues from yoga classes are to sit with a bolster if the knees are higher than the hips in a crossed legged position during meditation. Thanks for the informative post.

    Reply
  5. Hi Mark my name is Rakesh im glad i found this site my body has all the posture problems mentioned in this site leaving scoliosis and sway back so i need some advice from which part to start the exercise and end

    Thank You

    Reply
  6. Hi my name is Rakesh im gald to find this site . I have all the posture problem from head to toe so, i need an advice from where to start

    Thank You

    Reply
    • Hey Rakesh,

      I am glad that you found this website!

      In terms of where to start, hard to say exactly where without knowing your problems.

      Any area in particular?

      Mark

      Reply
    • i have problem with
      * forward hesd posture
      * rouned shoulers
      * huntchback
      * hyperlordosis
      * anterior pelvic tilt
      * flatfeet ..
      * Knee Valgus
      * Dowager’s Hump
      * Shoulder Impingement
      * Winged Scapula

      Reply
    • Hi there,

      Sit bones are quite prominent.

      Sitting on firm chairs (eg. no cushion) or having lack of glute thickness can contribute to this pain.

      Mark

      Reply
  7. Hi Mark.
    I left a comment few minutes ago.

    I want to mention this:
    “I tried to sit tall on the chair with fixed on the floor.
    I moved my upper body forward and backward frequently for 15 times.

    When I standed up, I felt engagement in my stomach area.”

    Is it normal?

    Reply
  8. Hey mark.
    I have an intresting issue!

    When I sit cross legged, every thing is great. No pain, no stiffness in upper back.

    But if I sit on the chair(specially if I lean backward on the chair),
    My lumbar spine starts pain and my upper back gets stiff.

    Do you know what my problem is?

    My hamstrings are not tight ( I can touch my toe easily.

    Reply
  9. hi my problem is if i stand my pelvis is neutral but if i sit it is posterior tilted and my low back is flat what can be the cause? should i strech my hamstrings?

    Reply
    • Hey Andy,

      Most like UPPER hamstrings are tight.

      Check out this post: Hamstring stretches.

      You will also likely need to work on working your muscles to improve tilting your pelvis forwards.

      Mark

      Reply
  10. hello Mark,

    Interesting how you don’t hint at week abdominals or tight hip flexors.

    When I’m sitting incorrectly I notice I have the tenancy to anteriorly pelvic tilt which actually gives me thoracic pain as well as tight spinal erectors.

    Reply

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