In 2017 it was reported that 577.0 million people around the world experienced low back pain. This low back pain can be caused by a variety of musculoskeletal impairments, postural imbalances, and daily habits that cause pain in the lower region of your back and even into your buttocks. One daily habit that has been known to increase the rates of low back pain is increased time sitting, the majority coming from individuals who are working from home or in an office. In 2008, only 25% of working jobs were considered sedentary, but with the pandemic these numbers have increased.
One way to decrease the risk for low back pain (or to help with low back pain that is already there is to take small exercise and stretch breaks throughout the day to “break up” the time in between sitting periods. Consistently performing stretches and exercises that target your trunk will help prevent tightness, strengthen the muscles, and increase blood flow to those areas to decrease the risk for injury and promote healing to damages caused during typical activities of daily living. The following stretches and exercises target the core, an important protector of the lower back. Studies show that strengthening your core muscles, especially the transverse abdominus muscle, impacts low back pain levels and helps with the stabilization of the spine in a sitting posture. Your transverse abdominus acts as a corset around your abdomen and lower back and when activated, adds increased stability and protection against low back pain and other spinal pathologies. A good way to tell if you are correctly activating your transverse abdominus during core strengthening activities is to lay on your back, place two fingers slightly on the inside of your hip bone, and squeeze your core as if the corset is wrapping around from your back to your belly button. A second way to think about this is to bring your belly button into your back. If you can feel the muscle contracting, then you know you’re doing it right! When performing core exercises, it is important to make sure this muscle is engaged to avoid injury and help strengthen your core from the inside layer out.