Open Thread: Feet Flat or on the Toes?

It sit with my feet on the toes: the left foot is mostly handing off the edge of the foot stool and my right is back and on its toe. (see my seating position here.) This is not uncommon: a lot of methods advocate it, and a lot of professional players sit this way.

Now contrast that with how David Russell sits. Feet flat on the footstool and the floor. It looks more comfortable and stable.

What do you do with your feet? Do you feel one method has an advantage over the other? If you use a guitar support, please weigh in with your thoughts.

Posted on in Ask the Readers


  • Joe Lewis

    I try to sit with as natural a posture as I can, which includes flat feet. However, there is a lot about my posture and technique that might be considered unorthodox and I was never taught on guitar anything other than hand/finger positioning… the rest was doing whatever worked. So take it with a grain of salt!

  • Bobber

    I don’t think it is supper important. It’s probably more important to not sit in a frozen state. Move the legs around a little bit if possible, especially the right leg.

  • Bradford Werner

    I try to concern myself with my spinal column and hand posiitons and my feet end up doing all sorts of things. I think that sitting in any one static position for too long will stress the muscles, it’s not natural. I promote flexibility in position but static hand positions as being key to the discussion…

    • Christopher Davis

      I agree that this may seem like a small thing. However, I think a lot of posture issues come from the hips not the shoulders. Lack of hip mobility or foot placement that’s not really well suited to the play can really throw off overall alignment.

      I’m mostly just curious if anyone has strong feelings about foot placement in the context of overall posture. I don’t think it’s a huge issue, but it certain has some effect.

  • Saei

    i used to put my feet flat on foot stool .i am so comfortable with this method.

  • Colleen Carlyle
    Colleen Carlyle

    Since I started playing (after a 37 year hiatus) four months ago I’ve had a lot of back pain along the right side of my spine. I switched from using a foot rest to an Eroplay. Back pain is gone, I am freer in my body movements too.

  • Chris Ledwidge
    Chris Ledwidge

    For me it’s always about consistency of all parts of posture from head to toe so my sitting position is as the David Russell example. I tried all kinds of ways when I began playing but I found if I had my feet on their toes they may be a little different each time which threw up problems further up in the back and shoulders. I’m sure it’s not a huge thing but comfort and consistency should be the main concerns.

  • Martin M

    An experiment under way!

    My usual footstool broke a leg recently, I decided it wasn’t so wonderful as to warrant repair, so I set about creating a replacement and thought I’d try rockers instead of the normal four legged variety (from something I started making years ago, but never completed).
    I find it very pleasant being able to move and not have the foot remain flat horizontal, and the stool can be placed this way and that to change the direction of the rockers. It’s fresh from the workshop so I’ll have to see how it feels after a bit more testing, but so far I really like it.

  • Peter Hughes

    Firstly, I don’t use a footstool, I have a leg-rest attached to the guitar. I tend to keep the “fretboard foot” flat on the floor and raise the heel of my other foot so I can move the “lower bout” leg to make room for the body of the guitar. However, I think both feet should be flat, whatwever they are resting on. I think the tendency to raise the heels is a symptom of tension in performance, and I have noticed that when I keep the feet flat then tension in my legs forces my pelvis back against the chair (and thus puts the chair under tension that it isn’t designed for). So, I am using a raised heel as a buffer-mechanism to reduce the effects of tension, both on my body and on the chair, in the misguided hope that this will preserve focus while playing. It’s much better to state that relaxation starts from the ground and then ensure that the playing posture reflects the statement. There’s also the point (mentioned in an interview on this blog) that a regular application of tension can cause a long-term injury that affects the ability to play. Thus, keeping the feet flat will focus attention on what the legs are doing, and so on. “Relaxed attentiveness” is the rule, not “the delusion of relaxation”.

  • Catherine Susans
    Catherine Susans

    I keep my left foot flat on the rest, I had to raise the rest to get it to do this, but my right foot goes in many positions. Today it was tucked underneath me and on its side.

  • Patrick Holm
    Patrick Holm

    For a few years I played with a footstool, mostly wanting to stay traditional (20th century), but got very discouraged with back and leg pain. Several years ago, I tried a Dynarette cusion and liked the feel, but was irritated by the cusion squeeking against the guitar finish with any slight movement on it. Last year, I tried a Gitano guitar support and love it. Flat left foot on the floor and whatever the right foot wants to do…with no pain!