How sitting on the floor while you work can help improve your posture

We ask an expert about this age-old technique for working at home

As long as you sit properly, being on the floor can help maintain a neutral spine. Unsplash
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You might have spent good money on a standing or even lying-down desk, but there's actually a very easy way to work that doesn't require expensive equipment: sitting on the floor.

But is it bad for our backs and bodies? We asked Taylor Hamilton, a sports and exercise scientist at Emirates Sports Med, to give us the lowdown.

“Sitting on the floor can be good for you,” he begins. While sitting anywhere for prolonged periods of time can seriously affect our lower backs, he adds, as we’ve been working from home most of us have simply been moving from chair to chair. “Sitting on the floor forces you to maintain a neutral spine and sit more upright, therefore improving your posture.”

To do it right, Hamilton recommends using a small table or box for your laptop to sit on, so that your eyes, hands, shoulders and neck can also remain in a neutral spine position.

He says everyone should do it. “Usually I would say anyone who is sat at a desk for long periods of time [should sit on the floor to work], but now, with everyone spending so much time at home, and most of us not having access to a gym or sports equipment, I recommend that everyone should choose to sit on the floor for short periods of time during their working day.”

I would advise taking short breaks throughout the day to help improve blood flow and posture

There are a few types of people who should perhaps avoid this sitting position, though. “Anyone who is pregnant might avoid sitting on the floor with crossed legs unless their doctor has asked them to do so to prepare for labour,” Hamilton explains. “Some doctors may also ask those with bad blood pressure and clotting issues to avoid sitting cross legged to avoid any unfavourable blood pooling, tingling or numbness.”

Otherwise, Hamilton highly recommends moving around various work stations throughout the day. “It keeps your body and posture guessing,” he says. “I would advise taking short breaks throughout the day to help improve blood flow and posture while bringing up that step count.”

He also offers some tips on how to sit on the floor correctly. “Remember, for most of you, your body is not used to sitting on a hard surface and you won’t have anything to lean on, making some muscles in your back and core forced to support your body.

Taylor Hamilton, sports and exercise scientist at Emirates Sports Med
Taylor Hamilton, sports and exercise scientist at Emirates Sports Med

“If you have any muscular skeletal injuries then maybe ask a family member to assist your movement or use a chair or sofa to allow different progressions in seated postures.”

Whether you’re sat on the floor cross-legged, squatting or kneeling, Hamilton says we should make sure to keep our bodies comfortable with active movement – and don’t ignore any symptoms of prolonged pain. “Most of the time, a trainer can assist you in developing the necessary flexibility or strength to help your posture and seated positions,” he adds.