I hate bucket seats. I find it particularly irksome that a bucket-seat office chair would claim to be ergonomic because it goes against everything I’ve read or learned that would be beneficial for back health. So if your office chair or your car seat it a bucket seat (and it probably is) listen up. There is no way to sit in that seat that is beneficial for your butt, back or hip flexors.

If when you sit in a chair your knees are higher than your hips, you can give yourself all the back support you want, but it won’t cut it. Bucket seats have a carved out butt groove (the technical term) that force your hips to sit lower than your knees.

Check out that yellow line going from my hip socket to my knee. Which end looks higher to you?

Check out that yellow line going from my hip socket to my knee. Which end looks higher to you?

Ergonomically for the health of your hips and spine, when you sit for an extended period you want your hips higher than your knees. Just imagine sitting on the floor with your legs out straight and trying to sit up tall. It’s hard, nearly impossible for most people that weren’t former ballerinas. I can almost guarantee you you’re rounded in your low back if you are in a bucket seat.  I can push against your low back, but it can’t force you to sit tall with a neutral pelvis and if it does your hip flexors will take on the burden.

But if in the same scenario you sit on something—a garden kneeling pad, a yoga block, etc.—suddenly you can sit in a neutral pelvis—tall, proud and without the agony of trying to contort your body into neutral when it just can’t get there. Now return to the bucket chair image, which exacerbates the problem. You’re butt is even lower than your knees. How are you going to sit up tall? How are you going to get a neutral pelvis and spine? The odds are against you.

So, what to do to reduce bucket seat frustrations? You can buy a wedge and sit on that, but in the car if you are tall there might not be room. You could roll up a towel and sit on that. In the office you could sit on a stability ball that is large enough to get your hips higher than your knees. Or you could get or create a sit-stand desk so at least you have some variety.

These tips are good for everyone, but if you’re pain free, you probably won’t be motivated to try them. I get it. If you have chronic back pain, trying these different options might be helpful. You may just find a way to make your back happier.

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