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Does Sitting Too Much Cause Low Back Pain?

3 best exercises for lower back pain ~ Dr. Angela Walk

One of the most common causes of low back pain is prolonged sitting. There is no doubt that sitting too much is harmful for our general health, but it also wreaks havoc on our muscles and Joints, especially our lower back.

Sitting puts more stress on the joints of the spine, discs, and muscles than any other position. We weren't meant to sit as much as we do.

My practice is located in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. The majority of my patients come from the surrounding office buildings and high rises.

90% of those patients sit at workstations. My practice was built on successfully treating repetitive injuries from poor workstation ergonomics and poor sitting posture.

Mechanical dysfunction of the lower back is one of the primary conditions that I see associated with prolonged sitting.

My focus with this article is to shed light on how prolonged sitting leads to lower back dysfunction, weakness of our core muscles, hip flexor tightness, and poor posture.

Dr. Angela Walk

Sports Chiropractor

The Plantar Fasciitis Doc

Why Is Sitting Bad For Your Back?

The damaging effects of prolonged sitting has been the focus of many recent studies, and for good reason. You may have heard the phrase "sitting is the new smoking".

This implies just just how unhealthy it is to sit for too many hours in a day. In this article, I will focus on (3) of the biomechanical presentations that lead to lower back pain.

  1. Sitting weakens our posterior chain core muscles (lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and postural muscles).

  2. Sitting creates tightness and restrictions in our hip flexor group

  3. Sitting leads to poor posture and poor movement patters

Let's take a look at each of these components individually.

1. Sitting Weakens Our Core Muscles

Can a weak core cause back pain? Dr. Angela Walk

What Muscles Get Weak From Sitting

We hear so often that sitting is bad for us, but those negative effects don’t just disappear when we stand. Prolonged sitting can cause some lasting damage.

Sitting for prolonged periods can weaken the primary movers of your hips and low back. These muscles are called the posterior chain muscles and include the low back extensors, buttocks, and hamstring muscles.

These muscles are severely underused when sitting, and this results in weakness. When your posterior chain is weak, too much stress is placed on your weaker, vulnerable lower back.

This can create many pain syndromes such as low back pain, sciatica, disc herniations, degenerative joint disease, knee pain, and hip issues.

You will not correct a back problem without strengthening and balancing your core. When your core is strong, your posture is upright and effortless, you move properly, and you feel strong and flexible.


Make an effort to stand more throughout the day, and avoid sitting for more than one hour at a time.

Also, to increase the strength of your posterior chain, perform the exercise below 3 times per day. You can quickly integrated this one exercise while practicing your new standing schedule and notice some immediate benefits.

The best part? It only takes 30 seconds to incorporate into your healthy workstation routine, and requires no equipment.

This exercise is called The Founder and is part of a core strengthening protocol called Foundation Training.

The Founder

  • Keep your head up, looking straight ahead

  • Extend your lower spine by lifting your chest and pushing your buttocks backwards

  • Keep your weight on your heels

  • Stick your buttocks back (hinge at your hips) as far as possible

  • When you lift your arms, keep them close to your ears

  • Hold for 15-30 seconds

  • Perform 3 times per day while at your workstation

2. Sitting Creates Tight Hip Flexors

How Do Tight Hip Flexors Cause Back Pain?

Prolonged sitting and activities like jogging and cycling can lead to tight hip flexors and muscle imbalances which contribute to low back pain.