proper sitting posture at desk
Back to all posts

This is the Best Sitting Position for Hip Pain

Did you know that there is a proper sitting form? And that it also happens to be the best sitting position for hip pain?

Whether you are trying to create a more ergonomic home office environment to reduce lower back and hip pain, or want to reduce hip pain while driving, there are a few things to keep in mind wherever and whenever you are sitting. 

Most of us sit improperly throughout the day. Evaluate how you are sitting right now while you are reading this whether it is on your computer or your phone. 

Are you hunched over? 

Are you sitting cross-legged? 

Do you have your feet propped up on a stool while you slouch into your chair?

While these positions may feel comfortable in the moment, they may also be what is causing butt, hip, lower back, or hip pain. This is especially true if you sit for work or spend long portions of your day sitting in one position. 

Although it is not a secret that posture can impact your overall health, less than half the American population is concerned about their posture or its health effects. 

If you are someone that has hip pain when sitting too long, then you will benefit from knowing the best sitting position for hip pain so you can alter your posture and improve your health.

But before we get into what the best sitting position for hip pain is, let's discuss why you are experiencing that hip pain in the first place. 

Why your hip hurts when sitting

No matter the reason, sitting for prolonged hours can cause a slew of body aches and pains. From neck pain to low back and hip pain, pain when sitting for too long is all too common. 

Most of us work jobs that require us to sit for 6+ hours, or we drive long distances with little to no breaks. 

All of this sitting adds up to an immense amount of stress on your body, and most specifically your hips. 

It may seem strange that you have hip pain while sitting because after all, sitting is a resting position, right?

So, why does your hip hurt when sitting?

Actually, sitting puts an immense amount of strain on your hip flexor muscles. These are two separate muscles: the iliacus and psoas. Together they make up the iliopsoas (which we also refer to as your hip flexors). 

Your hip flexors are most often thought about when put in a flexion motion like running or walking up the stairs. But your iliopsoas muscles are actually used for almost every body movement that involves your legs, pelvis, and spine. 

Your hip flexor muscles are what help move your legs forward, twist your trunk, and even what hold your body upright when sitting. Since the iliopsoas is engaged almost constantly, it can easily become overworked and overstressed. This leads to tightness and muscle knots. 

Even when utilizing the best sitting position for hip pain, your iliopsoas is going to be engaged. The reason being is that when in the seated position, you are shortening and contracting the hip flexors because they’re holding you in place and stabilizing your body

Because of this, even though you feel like you’re resting, your hip flexors are still “on” when you are sitting. 

Anytime you are in one position for a prolonged period of time, your body is going to tense up and certain muscles are going to work harder than others. This causes muscle shortening, tightening, knotting, and cramping - which is precisely why your hip hurts when sitting. 

If you find yourself slouching over more as the day goes on or when you experience hip pain when sitting too long, this may be your body’s way of trying to give your iliopsoas muscles a break. 

When your hip flexors are in pain and fatigued from doing the same thing for too long, like sitting, you will react subconsciously to try and alleviate the pain. 

Sometimes, that can cause poor posture. After all, your iliopsoas are more engaged when you are sitting up straight with good posture because they’re holding you up. 

Your hip flexors are still going to be engaged even with the most ergonomic home office chair or desk. 

After sitting all day, you may not notice the hip pain while sitting, but you may have hip pain when standing up from a sitting position

This happens because the muscles have been contracted in a shortened position for so long that they can essentially get stuck in that position. The abrupt change in body position comes as a surprise to the tight hip flexors and they end up staying in the tight contracted position.

You may also notice that you have hip pain while driving. This is actually for very similar reasons to when you have hip pain when sitting in other circumstances, but there are some additional factors at play here as well. 

The shortening of your hip flexors is the primary cause of yor hip pain when driving, but especially when driving long distances, you are confined and restricted to a very specific position the entire time.

When you are in an office setting or sitting at home, at least you can get up and move around more often or change your position more frequently. When you are driving, you don’t have that luxury, further leading to the shortening and tightening of your muscles. 

Not only that, but you are further tensing your muscles to use the gas, brake, and clutch pedals. If you are driving in a city, this will be more strenuous than on a highway or interstate, but you may unconsciously be contracting your hip muscles more in preparation for a reaction if needed. 

This preparedness is necessary for safe driving, but it doesn't allow you to be in the best sitting position for hip pain. 

What is the best sitting position for hip pain? Let’s learn all about it!  

The best sitting position for hip pain

When your hip pain when sitting is an ongoing problem, you need some tools to address the issue head on. One of the first ways to do this is to address your home office setup. 

What I mean by this is to optimize your workspace, whether in an office or at home, with an ergonomic home office desk and an ergonomic home office chair. Having the right environment will help make staying in the best sitting position for hip pain much easier. 

An ergonomic office setup is a necessary step to take if you already have hip pain when sitting for too long. In fact, you may need to go a step further and get a standing desk (or at least a desk that allows you to switch from sitting to standing position throughout your work day). 

Even if you aren’t able to optimize your office setup overnight, you can start to work on achieving the best sitting position for hip pain. 

To optimize your sitting position, you need to make sure that you have a supportive chair and that your back can rest comfortably against the back of the chair while remaining in an upright position. In other words: that it does not cause you to slouch and has proper lumbar support. 

With or without a chair that has back support, the best sitting position for hip pain is still achievable. All you need to do is make sure your sternum is up and your abs are engaged enough to create a slight curve in your back. 

Be aware that if the curve is too severe in your back and creates an arch, then that is NOT the best sitting position for hip pain. In fact, the iliopsoas muscles will be even more strained. 

Another thing to consider when achieving the best sitting position for hip pain is your leg placement.

Make sure that whatever chair you sit in is the proper height so your feet can be the floor. With your feet on the floor, you are able to keep your legs close to a ninety degree angle at your knees. 

The chair should be the right height so your feet are on the floor but also high enough so your hips are slightly higher than your knees. 

If you need to adjust your chair yourself but can’t get it quite right, you can also use a pillow or a blanket to change your height in relation to the floor. Adding a cushion or a soft surface to sit on may also help if you have piriformis pain while sitting. 

Sometimes, if your hips hurt when sitting already, sitting in this position will cause even more hip pain. Usually the hip pain is more severe, or even isolated to one side of the hip. 

If your hip hurts when sitting even when trying to use the best sitting position for hip pain, try tucking your foot underneath the chair but maintaining alignment. The foot you put under the chair should match the hip that is in pain. 

Some office chairs have built-in options to hook your feet under the chair for this reason. That’s why testing out different sitting positions for hip pain can be important before you invest in new office equipment. There are pros and cons of different ergonomic home office accessories. 

To keep your head and neck in alignment with your spine, keep your shoulder stacked over your hips and make sure your computer screen is at a level that doesn’t require you to look up or down. 

When working on the best sitting position for hip pain, the most important thing to remember is your body alignment. You want to be mindful that your body is aligned from top to bottom. That means keeping your spine erect and your hips and shoulders stacked. 

Over time this will become easier and more natural, but it will take some noticeable effort at first with some reminders throughout the day to maintain the best sitting position for hip pain. 

Tried the best sitting position for hip pain - and still having issues?

Even with an optimized home office setup and the best sitting position for hip pain, you may still experience lower back and hip pain when sitting. If that’s the case, then you will need to implement a few other habits into your schedule to start to address your tight iliopsoas muscles. 

First, consider taking breaks throughout your day. These don’t have to be long breaks but even getting up once every hour to stretch for five minutes, or walk around the block, can make a world of difference in preventing your hip flexors from freezing in a shortened position.

Next, make sure that you invest in an ergonomic chair and an adjustable desk option that allows you to change your work position throughout the day. Much like adding frequency of movement, even slight changes in your body position can stop the iliopsoas from tightening unnecessarily. 

Lastly, invest in tools to help loosen tight muscles through prolonged pressure. Various muscle relaxation techniques and muscle release tools can benefit several parts of your body - but are primarily effective with your hip flexors. 

The problem is that the iliacus and psoas are very difficult to access with standard foam rollers or other massage tools. 

That’s why I invented the Hip Hook

The Hip Hook is a specially designed muscle release tool that targets the hard to reach psoas and iliacus muscles (your hip flexors). In under 10 minutes a day, you can apply prolonged pressure to these muscles from the comfort of your home, reversing the muscle knots caused by continuous muscle contraction. 

Crafting a schedule that ensures that you aren’t going straight from your office chair, to the car, and then to the couch is extremely important. But, until you are able to address your hip flexor muscle tightness head on, you will continue to have pain when sitting. 

Luckily, with a combination of home office ergonomics, the best sitting position for hip pain, and muscle release techniques, you will be well on your way to eliminating hip pain when sitting. 

Frequently asked questions about the best sitting position for hip pain

Does sitting make hip pain worse?

Yes, sitting for extended periods can worsen hip pain, especially if you stay in the same position the entire time. 

Is sitting cross legged good for hip flexors?

Including more sitting variations throughout your day isn’t a bad thing and sitting cross legged for short periods can be beneficial to allow for more movement and increase your ability to maintain the range of motion in both the hip and knee joints. 

Will strengthening my hips reduce hip pain?

Low impact and targeted strength exercises can help you stabilize your hip joint and balance muscles surrounding your pelvic region. 

If your hip pain is caused from a muscle imbalance or even tight hip flexor muscles, strengthening the muscle around your hip can prove to be beneficial, but should be done in conjunction with light stretching and muscle tension release as well.

By Christine Koth . Fri Jan 07

Author Bio

Uncovering the cause of your pain is my mission. As a bestselling author and holistic physical therapist with decades of experience, I have helped countless people, just like you, recover from long-standing issues. I've discovered a major cause of pain hidden in the hip and this has lead to my "Iliacus Queen" and hip expert status. I'm here to help you discover causes like this. It doesn't have to be complicated to live a pain-free life. We can do this. I look forward to supporting you on your healing journey.