Interested in proper foot placement when sitting? In this article, I will go over…
- Whether your feet should touch the ground when sitting
- Is it better to sit with your feet up or down
- If you should sit on the edge of your chair
- Should your feet be flat on the ground when sitting
Let’s get started!
Should Your Feet Touch the Ground When Sitting?
When sitting in a chair, your feet should both always touch the ground as this helps to stabilize your back. If your feet are dangling in the air, gravity will pull your feet down toward the ground.
This causes your pelvis to tilt backward and your core muscles to overcompensate. Over long periods of time this imbalance can cause muscle strain.
Sitting in a chair that is too high can also put pressure on the back of your thighs which reduces blood flow. Increased pressure can lead to varicose veins and swelling of the legs and ankles.
If your feet are not touching the floor, luckily the height of most office chairs can be adjusted. To adjust your chair, stand in front of it and adjust the height until the top of the seat meets the bottom of your kneecap.
After doing this, sit down and make minor adjustments until your thighs are parallel with the ground and your feet are touching the floor.
If you are still unable to set your feet flat on the floor after making these adjustments, a footrest can be used as a last resort to achieve proper posture.
Stand alone ergonomic footrests can be purchased or a stack of phonebooks can also work in a pinch!
Read More >> Best Standing Desks With Footrests (2021 Review)
Is it Better to Sit with Feet Up or Down?
During a long workday, many workers tend to sit with either one leg up or cross-legged when they are tired.
Although changing how you are sitting can help to release some of the tedium of being in one position for too long, sitting in such a way for a long duration can increase pressure on your ankles, push hips out of alignment, and reduce circulation in your legs.
Sitting cross-legged in a chair with armrests can prevent the thighs from fully spreading out and can also cause stress on your lower back and spine.
Although it can be harmful to sit in one position for too long, it is important to ensure that you are always sitting with your feet down to prevent muscle strain and impaired blood flow.
Read More >> How Much Sitting Is Too Much?
Should You Sit on the Edge of Your Chair?
Whenever you are sitting on the edge of your chair, you are negatively impacting your pelvic and lower back muscles.
The back of the chair helps to take on some of the strain on your back muscles. When you do not rest against the chair back, you are harming your back.
While sitting, the buttocks and lower back must easily touch the back of the chair. You should have a 0.5-inch gap between the back of the knees and the front edge of the seat.
1. If the seat pan is too shallow, all the pressure from sitting is placed on a small part of the thighs, which may lead to reduced circulation.
2. Or if the seat pan is too deep, it will be hard to use the backrest and the edge of the seat will put pressure on the nerves and tendons at the backs of the knees.
And if you still find that you are leaning on the edge of your seat, see if the seat pan in your chair can be adjusted.
If so, adjust it so you have full support for three-quarters of the length of your thigh.
In some cases, if you find yourself perching on the edge of your seat you can also try moving your chair closer to your desk. Putting a small lumbar pillow behind your lower back can also provide a bit more support.
If you have tried making all of these adjustments and you find that you are still sitting at the edge of your chair to be comfortable, you may need to purchase a new chair with a seat pan that is an appropriate depth.
Thankfully manufacturers make chairs in a variety of seat depths to accommodate different body shapes and sizes.
Should Your Feet be Flat on the Ground When Sitting?
The optimal sitting position is achieved by keeping the spine in what is called a “neutral position”. A neutral position occurs when your feet are flat on the floor and feet and the knees are hip width apart.
When the feet are not flat on the floor, we tend to shift forward and sit in a “hunchback” position. Sitting in this way can cause abnormal stress on the neck and back muscles.
Commonly workers sitting for long periods of time will rest their feet on the pedestal base of their chair.
This should not be done for long periods because the knee angle typically will be less than 90 degrees and circulation issues can occur.
Watch out for any clutter underneath your desk that is preventing you from sitting with both feet flat on the floor or is making you sit in an awkward position.
Sitting in an unnatural position can impede in proper blood flow to your legs and feet.
Adjust the seat height so your feet are flat on the floor and your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Final Thoughts on Foot Position When Sitting
While the effects of sitting with improper form may not be visible in the short term, any unnatural repetitive movement can cause a large impact over long periods of time.
Not having your feet in the proper position can cause strain on your hips and back, reduced circulation, varicose veins, and swelling.
Thankfully, in most cases making some quick and simple ergonomic adjustments to your chair and work area can allow you to prevent these potential health issues.