Back Pain While Sitting

Updated March 2016

sitting pain

The Seated Lunge Technique

An Exercise for Lower Back Pain while Sitting for Extensive Periods

It is very common to have chronic pain while sitting.  Not only is your lower back affected but your hips are affected as well.  Whether it is from sitting at work or from driving long distances, virtually all of us suffer from this painful condition.

It is important to understand that although you ‘feel‘ rested while in the seated position, your spine is not actually in a restful state or position.  Sitting allows you to relax almost all of the muscles of your body except for the ones that keep you from leaning over to the side and forward.  Pressure on your lumbar discs are significantly high in this position.

While in this position, the muscles that stabilize the lower back, hip and pelvic area lose their support.  The spine therefore relaxes and forms an excessive curve unsupported by the surrounding primary muscles.  The entire weight of you upper body places unbalanced pressure on the spine and the discs.  The muscles that are meant to support the lumbar area become over stretched and fatigued (potential for back spasm).  Discs becomes unbalanced and risk bulging (risk of herniation or degeneration).  The pelvis ‘unlocks’ and its tilt loses neutral position (potential for disc injury).  All of this while at ‘rest’.  For more detail, please read this article on Pain when Sitting.

It is illustrated below from Exercise #6 of the Limited Mobility Exercises (See Table of Contents).  It helps in a number of ways. It helps to:

Hip Flexors

  1. Return you to neutral tilt (for even disc pressure, reduces posterior pelvic tilt).
  2. Stretch your psoas muscle (common area for lumbar pain).
  3. Stretch your rectus femoris (thigh to reduce anterior pelvic tilt).
  4. Strengthen your glute muscles (vital for lumbar support and protection).
  5. Strengthen and condition your back muscles (upper and lower to help maintain a neutral spine, reduces back spasms).


First of all, it is important to LIMIT the amount of time sitting and to take breaks from extended sitting (every 25-30 minutes for 1-2 minutes). Standing or walking is a must. Sitting is NEVER healthy for your lower back.

This exercise can be done while sitting and during your breaks. (It is important to have consent from your family doctor prior to any exercise routine such as the Seated Lunge.)

Seated Lunge

Step 1:  Sit upright with one leg and buttock fully ON the seat and the other leg and buttock suspended OFF of the seat.  Keep both knees bent and feet flat.

Seated Lunge

Step 2:  With the unsupported leg, slowly slide it to the side and behind you until you are fully stretched out as comfortably as possible.  Hold the chair rest or table for stability.

Step 3:  Try to extend the leg behind you by contracting your thigh muscles and hold this position for 1 minute.


Step 4: Repeat this exercise with the other leg.

You may find yourself leaning forward as you extend the leg behind you. Try to avoid this by extending less and maintain an upright posture.  Remember, you want to utilize your legs more while your spine is in neutral posture.

Tip: Contract your abdominals to help counter any excessive anterior pelvic tilt produced from extending your leg behind.  Performing this movement often during times of extended sitting helps to correct the posterior pelvic tilt that sitting leads to.

“On day one of your plan, I did the first half of stage 1 and my lumbar spine became unlocked for the first time I can remember. For a few hours, I knew what it was like to be pain free. “

“I am able to sit for longer periods of time without pain in my back and shoulders. When my back does start to hurt, I can now do the proper stretches to ease the pain quickly. I can also release the tension in my body enough to get a restful sleep.”




If you are tired of enduring this form of chronic pain, and are in need of a proven, structured, plan for pain relief: Search this site for more valuable help and Download the eBook to start today.