ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Low Back Pain During Government Lockdown From Coronavirus

Updated on April 12, 2020
blurbedlines profile image

Niall is a Master of Osteopathy working from private clinics in Yorkshire. He provides strength & conditioning and anatomy learning online.

Covid 19 and the effect it has on posture and pain

The Coronavirus pandemic has grounded the world almost to a halt. With new laws being introduced such as social distancing, severe restrictions on travel, and even how much exercise we can get outdoors, people are having to spend a lot more time at home.

As an Osteopath, one of the most common presenting Symptoms to my clinic, is low back pain (LBP). There can be hundreds of different causes, however, an increase in sitting and a decrease in exercise are up there with the most common. This will be discussed and broken down to highlight some of the main causes of LBP to allow the reader to understand why he/she is feeling the symptoms of LBP worse than before the pandemic.

Covid19 therefore, has presented us with more than just a horrible virus. It will increase the levels of musculoskeletal injury through sedentary living throughout the “lockdown period”. Thankfully there are things you can do to combat this including; exercises, posture corrections and simple changes to your lifestyle in quarantine. This article will explore and give examples of these beneficial techniques.

Kyphotic posture when sitting
Kyphotic posture when sitting | Source

If you would seek health, look first to the spine

— Socrates

The low back curve and why it’s important

When you stand, run, swim, lay down or move in a usual functional way, your low back normally presents itself in an inward curving (lordotic) position. This is to maximise shock absorption, flexibility, and to positively contrast with the thoracic spines (kyphotic) curve, which in turn further strengthens the tensegrity of the spinal structure.

When we sit however, the low back begins to arch in the opposing direction to become kyphotic, and the thoracic spine (upper mid back) needs to slightly alter its arch also, to balance and not be fully slumped forward.

So what does this mean in terms of pain? It’s all to do with the intervertebral discs of the low back. Observe the image below. You’ll see cylindrical structures of a different material to bone in between each vertebrae. Notice how they get slightly bigger and wider the further down they get. This is because as they get lower down the spine, they need to take more weight (anything on top of it). When we stand or move the discs are loaded with fairly evenly distributed amounts of weight, and therefore can remain strong, flexible and work as a unit.

Sitting begins to arch the back in the opposite way (kyphosis), which therefore shifts The majority of the weight onto the anterior portion of the disc. The inside of the disc (nuculus pulposus) is soft and slightly viscous. This means that when the anterior disc is pinched by the vertebrae above and below due to its new kyphotic posture, the nucleus pulposus is pushed toward the posterior disc wall. Just imagine squeezing one side of a balloon. where does the air go?

Studies have shown that the posterior wall is more susceptible to pain sensitivity than the anterior wall. Over time it can also gradually lose its strong structure and small fissures can appear, leading to a weakening of the disc wall and sometimes a small bulging of the disc posteriorly. Due to the location of the nerves, usually either the femoral or sciatic. These bulges or worse, herniation, can cause inflammation around the nerve root leading to the common pain condition known as sciatica. Which involves pain radiating down from the buttock and down the back of the leg.

Intervertebral discs of the lumbar spine
Intervertebral discs of the lumbar spine | Source

Quadratus Lumborum

Quadratus Lumborum or "QL" as it's commonly known as, is a muscle which spans the space between the iliac crest of the pelvis, the transverse processes of the low back and the last ribs. It gets its name from its shape and position. Quad (quadrangle) and Lumbor (lumbar). Humans have two of these muscles, one on each side of the body as shown in the picture below. It functions to rotate and side bend the trunk as well as stabilise it. It works best, just like any other muscle, when it is used. Stretched and contracted, twisted and pulled, whilst continuously working together with its brother on the opposite side.

Picture what this muscle looks like when we're doing something active such as running, as the right leg moves back the muscle contracts to slightly elevate and rotate the pelvis, its responds thousands of times to control the upright position and stability of the torso, and its dragged up and down as the ribs move to help us breathe quicker. In other words, its extremely used to activity and can tolerate and thrive off high amounts. Now picture these muscles, one on each side in a person who's been watching a film for the last hour and a half, slouched to the left over the arm of their sofa. What would it look like? One side would probably be stretching, the other probably scrunched up. Regardless of position, the key factor is that they've been in this position now for 90 minutes. So when the same individual leaps up after the film to make a hot drink, is it any wonder that one or both sides of the low back feel tight, guarded and sore?.... In this situation, sitting slouched to the left on the sofa is absolutely fine. What isn't fine, is not moving for 90 minutes. Simply breaking the time up and either standing up or adapting one of the postures we will discuss below, as well as swapping sofa sides can make a huge difference.

QL muscle. notice the shape and attachment points
QL muscle. notice the shape and attachment points | Source

What can be done?


There are plenty of great exercise to be doing which will keep you moving and negate the effects of sitting for longer than you usually would.
Below is a list of exercises I’d recommend and a video of me performing the exercises with good form! I’d recommend doing these exercise morning and night and sometime throughout the day, particularly if you’ve just spent a long stint on the sofa.

Adding a form of exercise which is good for the mind can also help with pain. Stress has been shows to directly correlate with pain and Coronavirus certainly doesn’t help the situation. I would suggest either choosing an audio book to listen to as you do gentle exercise like jogging or cycling, or something like yoga and pilates, that gets you into different positions, challenges you, but also calms the mind. You’ll find your low back feels better for it.

Sets/Reps or Times
2 sets of 10 alternating
2 sets of 8, 1 sec pause at top
Knee to chest
Hold for 30-45 secs x3
Sphinx or cobra pose
Hold for 30-45 seconds
Lumbar spine rotations
2 sets of 10 alternating
Glute bridge
2 sets of 10 alternating
Depending on your strength, prior fitness levels and flexibility, you can alter this to be more or less challenging

Different postural positions

Sitting is the modern day way of relaxing and socialising, TV is watched whilst sitting on a sofa, work is done sat at a desk and games are played sat at the table. However, humans we’re evolved to adapt more dynamic positions, such as:

  1. The squat
  2. Sitting on the floor with legs outstretched
  3. Sitting on the floor with legs crossed
  4. Laying in A sphinx position

Alternating between these 4 positions and sitting on your sofa throughout the day will give your body the stimulus it needs to keep loose and mobile. A good way of challenging yourself, is to alternate positions every time there’s a commercial break the programme you’re watching.

Sphinx pose
Sphinx pose

Lifestyle changes

Making a daily routine timetable like the one pictured below will keep you from sitting or laying in one position for too long. It will also help you be productive and feel better both physically and mentally during these unusual routineless times. You can also try to incorporate the above exercises and postural positions into your timetable.

Low back exercises
Read a book in a new postural position
Go for a run
Free unplanned time
Learn a new skill in a new postural position
TV, Hobby or craft
16:00- 17:00
17:00- 18:00
Prepare and eat dinner
18:00- 20:00
Watch a movie sitting. Stand and move every 20 minutes
20:00- 20:30
Low back exercises

Ice and NSAID's

As well as the aforementioned methods of reducing low back pain, there are also some common methods such as ice and non-steroidal anti inflammatory’s.

Ice is useful as it lowers local inflammation. This can be useful if your back has become inflamed from sitting for long periods. Make sure you wrap the ice or frozen peas etc in a tea towel to prevent direct contact between the ice and skin. If this leaves you feeling good but a little stiff, try alternating between hot and cold. Apply cold for 5 minutes then heat for 2 minutes. Alternate this as many times as you feel necessary, finishing with heat to re-warm the muscles up. This will hopefully contract and relax the muscles for you resulting in less of a dull ache.

Hopefully this has been a useful resource to you. Feel free to leave feedback or message requests for further articles similar to this one.

Are you suffering from low back pain in quarantine?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      7 weeks ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Gee, this is so informative and helpful. How kind of you to share your expertise. Thanks!

    • hallucinogen profile image


      7 weeks ago from Leeds, UK

      Thanks for this article, it's great. My back is certainly hurting more now that I'm glued to my computer for the majority of the day.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)