Lower back pain in woman
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How to Loosen Tight Back Muscles

by Alexa Watters

Are those stubborn tight back muscles making it harder for you to play with your kids or perform your best during physical activity? You’re not alone! Stiffness is a very common concern for most adults and has many people looking for back discomfort relief to get them through the day. Learning how to loosen those back muscles can help you move and feel much better. 

Let’s go over the common causes of tight back muscles and what you can do to prevent and reduce this discomfort. 

Finding the Cause of Your Tight Back Muscles 

The first step of getting those tight back muscles loosened is determining the cause. People experience aches and discomfort in their backs for several reasons – and some of these reasons might even surprise you!  

Stretch Zone practitioner performing an assisted stretch on woman

What are the Common Reasons People Experience Back Tightness and Discomfort? 

Most adults deal with backaches and tight muscles for various reasons. In fact, upwards of 80% of Americans will experience an aching back at some point in their life, though it’s more common in people in their 60s. 

Below are some of the common reasons why an individual might be experiencing discomfort in their back: 

Improper Posture 

Most people sit or stand for long periods with poor posture, and that’s one of the leading causes of tightness and aches. For example, sitting with your spine curved forward reduces upper and lower back muscle strength. It also puts more strain on your spine, resulting in stiffness and aches. 

Curving your spine also decreases the nutrient supply to your spinal tissues. This is necessary for having enough oxygen in your spine so it can be strong and healthy. 

Sprains or Strains 

Sprains occur when your ligaments become overstretched or torn; a strain happens when the muscle or tendon becomes overstretched or torn. Either of these injuries can occur due to improper lifting techniques or failing to warm up before physical activity. They can also lead to more tightness that can cause discomfort in your back. 

Sedentary Lifestyle 

People are becoming more sedentary as they work office jobs or become “couch potatoes.” It’s crucial to get some sort of movement in your life to prevent stiff back muscles from sitting all day. Sitting for long periods shortens your hip flexors while putting strain on your back, especially if you’re using poor posture. 

Sitting all day also causes your legs and glutes to weaken, which are important lower body muscles that hold you up! We’re sure you can imagine the discomfort it causes when those muscles aren’t as strong as they should be. 

Stress 

Stress can be incredibly taxing on your mind and body. Your body naturally releases certain hormones known as cortisol and adrenaline during stressful moments. This causes you to involuntarily tighten your muscles, particularly the ones in your neck, shoulders, and back. 

If you’re constantly stressed, these muscles are also constantly tightened, which can lead to stiffness and aches in the back. Almost 30% of American adults believe the cause of their aching back is stress. 

Injuries or Certain Diseases 

Injuries to the back muscles and ligaments that support the spinal column can often lead to stiffness. Certain conditions and diseases can also cause aches in the lower back. This is likely due to inflammation or damage to the muscles, tendons, or ligaments. 

Common injuries that can lead to tightness or aching in the back include: 

  • Fractures 
  • Disc problems 
  • Arthritis 
  • Tumors 

Tightness in Other Areas 

All the muscles in your body connect, and when one group isn’t working properly, the neighboring muscles overcompensate. This is why people with tightness in other parts of their body may also experience discomfort in their backs. 

If any of these muscles are stiff, you might need to loosen them up to ease your back discomfort: 

  • Thighs 
  • Hips 
  • Hamstrings 
  • Shoulders 

Inflammation in the Spine 

Inflammatory changes in your spine can cause those joints to lose flexibility or even fuse together. This will result in stiffness and ultimately aches in your back. If your discomfort is caused by inflammation, you may notice that it becomes worse in the mornings or after a certain amount of time of inactivity. 

One of the most common reasons for inflammatory back discomfort is spondyloarthritis, which is a type of arthritis that attacks the spine. Rarely, this disease can also affect the hands, feet, arms, or legs. 

Dehydration 

There’s a reason health professionals stress the importance of drinking plenty of water. Who would’ve thought something as simple as not getting enough fluids could cause tightness in your back?  

Your spinal discs are filled with a jelly-like substance made of nearly 75% water. Their job is to absorb the shock of your everyday movements and protect your spine. If you’re dehydrated, your spinal discs begin to lose water and become smaller. This prevents them from taking on the full shock of your movements, which puts more stress on your spine and leads to tightness and aches. 

Water slowly gets released from your spinal discs throughout the day and rehydrates while you sleep. Drinking enough water can help make that process much easier. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you can’t figure out the cause of your aching back muscles, try drinking more water to keep your spine hydrated! 

Preventing Tightness in the Back 

Prevention is better than cure! If you’re worried about tightness and aches disrupting your day, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to prevent them from happening. Here are some sure ways to ensure your back is as healthy as it can be: 

Maintain a Healthy Weight 

Those who are overweight or obese can experience discomfort in the back and knees. The more weight you carry, the more your pelvis becomes pulled forward. This causes the lower back to become strained. If you want to avoid these issues, try to maintain a healthy weight. 

Some quick tips for doing this include: 

  • Exercising often 
  • Staying hydrated 
  • Eating responsibly 
  • Remaining positive 

Practice Good Posture 

Posture is important for preventing issues with spinal alignment and discomfort. When you’re sitting and standing, you want to ensure that your back is straight and that your bones and joints are aligned. Poor posture also results in the wearing of your joint surfaces. 

When sitting, make sure to have proper back support and keep your feet flat on the floor. When standing, avoid overarching or hunching your back. You should also be familiar with the five elements of perfect posture: 

  • Parallel feet 
  • Neutral pelvis 
  • Balanced shoulders 
  • Relaxed hands 
  • Head over torso 

Stay Active 

This goes back to the “use it or lose it” idea. You want to remain active to avoid tightness and discomfort in your back or any other muscle groups. It doesn’t even have to be an intense workout. Something as simple as a quick walk or a gentle stretching session is enough to keep your body moving and fend off tight muscles. 

If you work an office job, consider taking frequent breaks to stand up and walk around. Your body isn’t meant to be inactive for long periods, so don’t forget to keep moving if you want to prevent stiffness! 

Stretch Practitioner stretching a client

Stretch Daily 

Stretching is one of the best things you can do to prevent tight muscles. The activity increases your range of motion and flexibility, ensuring that your joints and muscles are nice and limber. Doing some light stretches in the mornings will wake your body up and prepare it for the day ahead. Stretching before and after physical activities is also important to prevent injuries and improve your performance. 

Build Core Strength 

What does core strength have to do with preventing backaches? Well, everything! Your core keeps you centered and includes muscles in your front abdominals, along the side of your body, and between your spinal bones. If those areas are weak, they will rely on passive structures for stability, which can lead to aches. 

There are plenty of core strengthening exercises you can do to help relieve discomfort in your back. Some of the most common ones you can try are: 

  • Planks (several variations) 
  • Glute bridges 
  • Crunches (several variations) 
  • Russian twists 
  • Butterfly sit-ups 

Heat or Cold Therapy 

If you’re feeling discomfort in your back, heat or ice can help relieve some of it. You’ll want to use ice for the first 24 to 72 hours after an injury to reduce inflammation and produce a numbing effect. After the swelling has subsided, you can then use heat to stimulate blood circulation, which brings healing nutrients to the injured area. Heat can also improve the flexibility in your soft tissues and the movement of the impacted muscles. 

A general rule to help you remember which method is best is that ice reduces swelling and inflammation, and heat alleviates aches and muscle stiffness. 

Reduce Stress 

If you find yourself regularly hunching your shoulders up to your ears, it might be a good idea to try some stress reduction techniques. Constantly clenching your muscles will lead to tightness and discomfort, which can make you even more stressed! 

Here are a couple of activities to try if you’re looking for a way to reduce stress: 

  • Meditation 
  • Yoga 
  • Exercise 
  • Quality sleep 
  • Listen to music 
  • Get stretched by a professional 

When Back Surgery is Necessary 

Surgery for backaches is rarely necessary, as most cases resolve on their own within one to three months. You may want to see a medical professional if your discomfort is chronic or impacts your quality of life. Surgery might also be necessary after trauma, such as a car accident, or if your symptoms are severe. 

If your backaches occur after an injury, you shouldn’t attempt to stretch the area until after it’s healed. Doing so could prolong the healing process and put you in even more agony. It’s always best to be under a professional’s supervision to ensure the best results. 

Common Risk Factors of Back Tightness and Discomfort 

Did you know that some people are more prone to back tightness than others? Many factors can determine if you’re more likely to experience this issue, and some of them might be out of your control. 

Below are some of the common risk factors of having back discomfort: 

  • Age 
  • Certain diseases 
  • Smoking 
  • Fitness level 
  • Poor general health 
  • Occupation 

Practitioner-Assisted Stretching Can Enhance a Stretch 

We all know people can stretch on their own, but is that really helping your situation? Practitioner-assisted stretches can help individuals relieve stiffness and soreness so they can move more effortlessly and feel younger. When you stretch on your own, you could risk performing the stretch incorrectly or accidentally injuring yourself. 

Many people believe that they should stretch until it hurts, which should never be the case. A professional understands how to move your muscles in the right ways to provide all the benefits you need to reduce tightness and discomfort. They can also recommend the best moves and exercises to help you feel your best. 

Here are some ways a professional can help enhance a stretch and ultimately decrease aches and stiffness: 

  • They communicate with you 
  • They use proven techniques 
  • They safely extend your muscles further 

Can the Stretch Zone Method Eliminate Back Tightness and Discomfort? 

Our practices utilize a method that uses science and innovation. We call it the Stretch Zone method, and it’s been proven to help people gradually increase their range of motion and reduce tight muscles. This technique helps re-establish an ideal testing muscle tone, which is necessary for your form and posture. It also helps correct muscle imbalances and improves muscle relaxation. 

Are You Ready to Find Backache Relief Once and for All? 

You shouldn’t have to walk around with stiff muscles for the rest of your life. Visiting Stretch Zone can help you find the relief you need so you have better quality of life. No matter the cause of your backaches, we can work with you to help loosen your muscles, improve your range of motion, and perform better physically. 

Are you ready to see for yourself how our method can benefit you? Our experienced practitioners are more than happy to assist. Find a Stretch Zone location near you, and get started on the road to recovery. Your first session is on us, so schedule your appointment today! 

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