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Sitting Kills Your Low Back Curve: Do This Daily

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 04/05/2024

Sitting for prolonged periods can lead to lower back pain and even cause the loss of the natural curve in our backs. It's no secret that maintaining proper posture is crucial for neck and lower back health.

Learn about how sitting can affect your health and about various stretching exercises designed to alleviate lower back discomfort by elongating the glutes, hamstrings, and calves.

Understanding the Role of Prolonged Sitting in Low Back Pain

A growing number of adults are feeling a twinge in their lower back after a long day at work, as evidenced by estimates that up to 80% experience low back pain. It's estimated that up to 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point.

But why is this such a common issue? One culprit could be prolonged sitting.

Sitting for extended periods can lead to compression on the discs in our spine, causing discomfort and even chronic pain over time.

When we sit down, our natural curve - that healthy 'S' shape when viewed from the side - becomes flattened. This puts extra pressure on nerve roots, leading to an increased risk of lower back pain.

The Loss of Natural Curve

Our backs are designed with curves because they help distribute weight evenly across our bodies. Imagine holding a heavy bag; it's easier if the load is spread out rather than concentrated in one spot, right?

This principle applies to your spine as well. With the loss of this curvature due to continuous sitting positions or poor posture habits, there is uneven distribution leading towards excessive stress being placed upon certain parts like discs and nerves, causing what we commonly term as backache or, more specifically, lower back pain.

Avoiding The Pitfalls Of Prolonged Sitting

What can be done to avoid sitting for too long? One strategy is regular movement. It's like giving your back a mini vacation every hour or so.

Stepping away for quick strolls or stretching doesn't just ease the pressure on your discs. It also boosts blood circulation and delivers vital nutrients to your spine, keeping it healthy.


Importance of Proper Posture for Neck and Lower Back Health

Maintaining a natural curve in the neck is more than just an aesthetic choice; it's about proper support and function. Your neck health hinges on this curve, ensuring your head stays balanced atop your spine without causing undue stress to muscles or vertebrae.

Loss of the neck's natural curvature can result in postural issues, such as hunchback posture, which can detrimentally affect both physical appearance and overall health—hunching over places excess pressure on the discs between our vertebrae, leading to chronic discomfort and sometimes even severe pain.

Reversing Hunchback Posture with Mid-Back Stretching

The positive news is that there are strategies to counter the detrimental consequences of this posture. One effective method involves mid-back stretching exercises designed specifically for correcting hunched backs.

Taking a few minutes each day to practice these exercises can significantly improve one’s quality of life.

For instance, try gently rolling your shoulders backward while standing upright against a wall - this engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, providing both strength training and stretch benefits.

You might be surprised how much better you feel after incorporating these routines into your daily schedule.

Consistency is vital when trying new health regimens, it won't happen overnight, so stick with it.

Utilizing Foam Rollers for Lower Back Pain Relief

Rolling out your back with a foam roller can do wonders in relieving low back pain. It's not just about rolling but about using the tool to restore the lower back curve and provide support.

Alternating Foam Roller Positions for Pelvic Movement

Pelvic movement plays a vital role in alleviating lower back discomfort. The trick is alternating between foam roller positions that engage and stretch your muscles.

A simple method is starting on your side, then slowly rolling onto your stomach or back while keeping pressure on the sore area.

This strategy targets muscle groups around the hip joint, helping relieve constant pain.

Combatting Slouched Position with Foam Rollers

We regularly discover ourselves hunched over when seated at our workstations or unwinding in the house. While this position might initially feel comfortable, it puts undue pressure on discs, leading to persistent lower-back aches over time.

The solution? Use a foam roller. Placing it horizontally under your sacrum (the triangular bone at the base of your spine) encourages an anterior pelvic tilt, reversing that harmful slouched posture by promoting proper spinal alignment.

You’ll soon notice how relaxed you are after regularly doing these exercises.

The Benefits of Stretching Exercises for Lower Back Pain

Lower back aches can be a significant inconvenience, but did you know that stretching exercises could help to relieve it? That's right. Let's take a closer look.

Stretching the Lower Back, Glutes, and Hamstrings

You may not realize it, but tight glutes and hamstrings are often to blame for lower back discomfort. You can create space in these areas by performing targeted stretches like the reclining pigeon pose and reducing tension on your lower back.

Try this: Lie down with your knees bent. Lift one of your legs and place the ankle over the knee of your opposite leg.

Then gently pull this foot towards you while keeping your pelvis firmly grounded. This stretch is known as "Figure Four" due to its shape.

Calves Stretching for Lower Back Relief

Try doing calf stretches daily to give calves some much-needed attention and aid in lower back relief. A straightforward method is facing a wall with one foot forward while pressing against it.

Studies have shown that regular stretching exercises alleviate low back pain.

While these exercises can offer relief, remember to listen to your body and not push beyond your comfort limits. If you feel more than a mild discomfort during any stretch or if the pain persists after stretching regularly for a few weeks, seek professional help.

The Impact of Muscle Imbalances on Low Back Pain

One culprit often flies under the radar regarding low back pain: muscle imbalances. They cause discomfort that can throw your body out of alignment.

Muscle discrepancies can arise when specific muscles in a particular area are more powerful or suppler than the others. This imbalance creates uneven pressure on our spine, contributing significantly to low back pain.

Why Does this Happen?

In most cases, these imbalances arise from our day-to-day activities, like sitting for long periods at work or habitually carrying heavy bags on one shoulder.

These repetitive actions make specific muscles work overtime while others the others go unused.

This constant tug-of-war between overworked and underused muscles causes tension in our lower backs, manifesting as persistent lower back pain.

The Sciatica Connection

Sciatica, simply put, is nerve irritation caused by changes in your spine, such as herniated discs due to muscle imbalances.

The uneven pull from unbalanced muscles may push disc material into the spinal canal where nerves reside, causing tingling sensations down your legs.

Correcting the Imbalance

You might wonder, "How do I address these imbalances, particularly a tight psoas on one side?" The solution is straightforward, though it demands commitment.

The initial step involves recognizing your specific muscle imbalances, and in this regard, physical therapists excel, offering personalized guidance.

Once these imbalances are pinpointed, a consistent regimen of targeted exercises comes into play. These exercises strengthen weakened muscles and alleviate the tightness, restoring balance to your muscles and lower back.

This practical approach alleviates low back pain at its source rather than merely concealing its symptoms.

Promoting Symmetry through Proper Sitting

Sitting on the ischial tuberosity, or as most call it, the sitting bones, helps promote this balance. Imagine these two bony points at the bottom of your pelvis are like small tripods supporting your weight evenly across both sides.

This equal distribution prevents unnecessary strain and compression on discs between vertebrae, often leading to back pain. So if you're always leaning more towards one side while sitting, now is an excellent time to straighten up.

The Role of Ischial Tuberosity

Your ischial tuberosities bear much responsibility for maintaining alignment when seated.

They serve as crucial contact points that help distribute body weight evenly across your pelvic region, thereby reducing pressure on sensitive nerve roots and helping alleviate discomfort associated with prolonged sitting.

Improper posture due to unequal weight distribution could result in lower back issues and sciatica, where pressure builds upon nerves running down from our spine into the legs causing immense pain.

Maintaining Spinal Curvature

Maintaining proper spinal curvature becomes significantly easier once you start paying attention to how you sit. This involves engaging core muscles and keeping feet flat on the ground, forming a sturdy base for upper body support without putting undue stress onto your lower back.

A balanced posture allows the spine's natural curve to remain intact, ensuring that spinal discs don't bear undue pressure, which could lead to degeneration over time. It's a simple yet effective strategy for anyone seeking relief from persistent lower back pain.


Prolonged sitting can harm lower back health by flattening its natural curve, leading to discomfort and pain.

However, by adopting proper posture, regular movement, and targeted stretching exercises, such as those for the glutes, hamstrings, and calves, individuals can alleviate these issues.

Additionally, promoting symmetry through balanced sitting and maintaining spinal curvature can further improve lower back health. Consistency is key, and seeking professional help if needed ensures long-term relief and better overall well-being.

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