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.


Below is a list of 3 stretches and 3 exercises that are great for individuals who are currently working from home that will help strengthen your core and protect your back to decrease the risk for low back pain.

  • Child’s Pose: Start on your hands and knees. Bring your belly to rest between or on top of your thighs (depending on how wide you rest your legs) and relax your head on the floor in front of you. Stretch your arms in front of you with your palms flat on the floor. Stay in this position for a minute or as long as it is comfortable.
  • Cobra: Start laying on your stomach. Bring your hands up and place them on either side of your chest. Use your arms to press up and extend your back. Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds at a time.
  • Cat/Cow: On hands and knees, you will push your back into extension, rounding up and bringing your chin to your chest. Hold this for 30 seconds. Then transition by bringing your belly towards the ground, bending at the back and reaching your nose up to the ceiling. Hold this for 30 seconds. You can cycle through these two motions as many times as you like.
  • Bridges: Start on your back with your knees up. Activate your transverse abdominus and gluteal muscles to raise your hips upward, creating a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Hold for 15 seconds before lowering. Do this exercise 10 times.
  • Bird Dogs: On hands and knees, raise your opposite arm and leg to reach in front/behind you. Hold this position for 15 seconds, making sure to activate the transverse abdominus. Release the position and switch sides, holding for 15 seconds. Do 10 repetitions on each side.
  • Crunches: Lay on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet placed on the floor. Place your hands behind your head but avoid using your neck muscles to assist in the motion. Use your abdominals to lift your shoulder blades off the floor. Do this 10 times.

If you have any questions about relieving lower back pain, please reach out to your personal trainer, physical therapist, or physician. Please seek medical attention with any tightness or pain due to acute or previous injury or any chronic issues that have not been medically evaluated.


The UFit Team