These days, most of us have been used to sitting on chairs or sofas, and when you are reading this, you are probably sitting on one of them right now.
But it is not always the case. For thousands of years, we have rested on the ground using the squat, cross-legged or kneeling position. And in some cultures, it is their customs to sit and eat on the floor. For example, in Japan, the formal way to sit is called "seiza," which involves sitting on the heels with the knees resting on the floor.
Some people like to sit on the floor. It's said that these cross-legged, squatting and kneeling positions stretch your hips, legs, pelvis and spine, and help promote natural flexibility and movement.
However, there are different voices. Whether we should sit on the floor or not is still under debate, but sitting on the floor can make us change our position often, which is not bad at least.
Anecdotal and clinical evidence has shown that different ways of sitting put different physical stresses on our bodies. Sitting for a long time in the same position normally affects the structure of our low back, called the lumbar region of the spine, and the movement characteristics of your pelvis.
It's believed this might lead to health problems in the long run, such as arthritis, and that’s why we are advised to use appropriate supports or assistive devices and to switch positions often when sitting for a long time.
There is no clear evidence on how different sitting positions affect our health, but scientific research shows that some lumbopelvic muscles (the muscles in our hip regions) play an important role in postural stabilization.
Some research also shows that squatting and cycling may lead to knee osteoarthritis, and sitting on the floor with folded legs is the least harmful by comparison.
How to sit comfortably on the floor
Cross-legged position is probably one of the most comfortable positions when you are sitting on the floor. To do it, you should first sit on the floor and bend both your legs, and move your knees outward.
Try to place one foot under the opposite knee. Then, you can shift your weight to your hips, instead of your feet. Try to place your belly over your hips. To decrease pressure on your hips, you can sit on the edge of a folded blanket. You can also place cushions beneath your knees.
If you have knee or ankle discomfort, you can try the bent sit. Firstly, you sit on the floor and bend both your knees, planting your feet on the floor. Try to place your feet wider than hip-width apart. A wider stance will prevent you from rounding your back. Lastly, keep your belly over your hips.
In fact, a comfortable sitting position will probably vary from person to person. We need to remember that the key to good sitting is regular movement and changing your position often. Basically, listen to your body, it will tell you what it needs.