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Why Are My Lower Back Muscles So Tight

Treatment For Back Spasm

  • First 48 to 72 hours: Apply ice for 20 minutes reapply every two hours while lying on your back. Always use an ice pack never apply ice directly to the skin.
  • After 72 hours: Apply moist heat. A heating pad is ideal. Failing that, you may find relief by soaking in a tub of hot water.
  • Whereas ice reduces inflammation, heat increases blood flow to the area and relaxes tight muscles and irritated nerves.
  • Elevating your legs takes pressure off the spine and may also help relieve pain.

Aspirin or ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Consult with your physician or healthcare provider regarding the medication and dosing regimen most suitable for your condition. With low back muscle spasm, combination therapies generally yield better results than one therapy alone.

Characteristics Of Reflexive Chronic Muscle Tightness

So how can you tell if you have this form of chronic muscle tightness? Below are some characteristics so you can determine if you might have this issue. Before we begin, were assuming that you dont have any injuries or nerve damage that causes your muscle spasticity. If you cant get more flexible and your muscles are still tight no matter how much you stretch, then see if this sounds like it could apply to you:

Ways To Avoid Back Pain

If youâve been sidelined by a sore back, youâre not alone. Four out of five people experience back pain at some point, making it the second most common reason for visiting the doctor.

Back pain takes various forms, from a persistent dull ache to sudden sharp pain, and has many causes. Sometimes it results from a sprain, fracture, or other accidental injury. It can stem from a disease or medical condition, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, or spinal stenosis . Many people develop back pain in part because theyâre overweight or sedentary.

The good news is that most lower back pain usually gets better within a few days or weeks, and surgery is rarely necessary. Whatâs more, simple self-help strategies such as these can be surprisingly effective at preventing back pain and keeping it from returning:

1. Get more exercise. If your back is hurting, you may think the best way to get relief is to limit exercise and to rest. A day or two of rest may help, but more than that may not help the pain. Experts now know that regular physical activity can help ease inflammation and muscle tension.

Ask your doctor or health club trainer about back-strengthening exercises. Also, some forms of yoga and tai chi may help you learn proper posture and improve strength, balance, and flexibility.

3. If you smoke, stop. Smoking restricts the flow of nutrient-containing blood to spinal discs, so smokers are especially vulnerable to back pain.

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Neither Hydration Electrolytes Or Manual Pressure Will Relax The Muscle

Some like to think that muscle spasms will simply go away with hydration or potassium, magnesium, or whatever electrolyte. People drink sports drinks, eat bananas, and take supplements. This may help when ones body is depleted, but this is not for the type of muscle spasm were talking about here. Reflexively chronically tight muscles do not relax in any way with these. You will not gain more flexibility taking these.

Also, massages and most bodywork will not work. I am a hands-on osteopathic physician. During my life, I have tried massage therapy, many different forms of stretching , muscle release techniques such as active muscle release, osteopathic treatments, primal reflex release techniques, and other forms of bodywork. I have been treated by some of the best people in the country and from around the world. Nothing ever worked, until I stumbled across something that did. Make sure you keep reading to find out what it is.

I also learned working on patients that any changes I could get with hands-on osteopathic treatments, were mostly to get them back to a baseline. They may not have had pain after the treatment, but the tightness and tension were still there.

Sitting With Your Spine Curved Forward

Why do my lower back muscles feel strained and stretched ...

When you sit for a long time, the following changes occur in your spine:

  • Increased pressure within each spinal segment3
  • Reduced strength in the muscles of your upper and lower back3,4
  • Decreased nutrient supply to the spinal tissues3

When you sit on the edge of your chair or hunch towards your computer, the strain on your spine is moreand can cause stiffness and pain.

See Identifying Incorrect Posture

A sedentary lifestyle can exacerbate these changes, causing spinal stiffness to develop within an hour of sitting.4

To avoid back stiffness, use an upright sitting posture. Roll your shoulders back with the ears over the shoulders and the upper arms parallel to your torso. While sitting in an office chair try to avoid constant use of the backrest and sit upright to activate your core muscles.

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How Can Tight Muscles Result In Back Pain

Tensing muscles are the bodys way to prevent further damage and signal to us that we should take steps to help these muscles loosen up. If the necessary precautions arent taken, the condition of these muscles can worsen and lead to more serious issues.

These issues can impact our ability to move and cause chronic pain throughout the body, including the lower back.

Back muscle tension expresses itself throughout our lower body and can even impact the muscles of the pelvis, hips, and upper legs.

Often, tight lower back muscles come with a range of symptoms such as spasms, cramps, stiffness, and pain. These pains can range from constant, minor aches, to full-on incapacitating discomfort.

Tight back muscles can stem from a range of possible causal factors. Strenuous bouts of physical activity, dehydration, awkward posture, or a poor mattress can all impact how tight our lower back muscles are and may cause the symptoms mentioned above.

While it is normal to feel tension after such activities, if it does not subside within a few days, it may be time to take precautionary measures to ensure the health of our muscles.

What Is Muscle Imbalance

Your body has muscles that are attached to either side of a joint and work against one another to control the movement of the joint. Its a bit like the handlebars of your bike: you can ride with one hand, but two hands working against each other gives you much better control.

When one side of the opposing muscles is stronger than the other, you have a muscle imbalance. For instance, if you regularly use the muscles on one side a lot more than the other, they get stronger muscles and shorter and tighter. On the other side, the muscles get weaker and longer and looser. The shorter, stronger muscles pull that part of your body out of position, and your whole body will end up making adjustments to compensate.

In the bicycle analogy, if one of your arms was slightly shorter than the other you would have to adjust your riding position slightly to keep riding in a straight line.

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What Happens When The Tightness Isnt Relieved

A tight muscle in the leg every now and again isnt likely a cause for concern. But if that tightness occurs often or is persistent, it can create quite a few issues. This includes:

  • Muscle pain. Sore muscles are one thing. Pain in the muscle is another. If the tightness goes on too long or is severe, it can cause actual pain. This makes it harder to work out, stopping clients from reaching fitness goals.
  • Muscle stiffness. When your leg muscles are continuously stiff, simple actions like walking and standing create discomfort. Muscle stiffness also makes other actions less appealing, like playing with your kids or taking care of your household chores.
  • Muscle weakness. A chronically tight leg muscle isnt as strong as a healthy muscle that functions as it should. This weakness means reduced sports performance. Reduced muscle strength also means less effective workouts.
  • Muscle imbalance. If your right leg muscle is constantly tightening, it could create a muscle imbalance. This imbalance could occur because of postural shifts to help relieve the tension. It could also be created by not working that muscle as hard because of its stiffness.

Stretches For The Middle Back


Back pain, especially short-term pain, is one of the most common medical complaints in the United States. A variety of lifestyle factors, medical conditions, and injuries can lead to pain in the middle back.

Symptoms of mid back pain can include:

  • short, sharp pains
  • muscle tightness or stiffness
  • a reduced range of motion

is here to help you releive your back pain. Visit one of our DFW clinics today to see a therapist and develop a personalised therapy solution for your pain or injury.

The following four stretches are easy to do at home or in the office, and they can help relieve mid back pain, loosen tight muscles, and improve mobility.

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You Have Always Had Reflexive Chronic Muscle Tightness

Were talking about a muscle that likely has never, ever in its existence been able to properly relax.

I can recall as a five-year-old child not liking stretching. A swim coach getting frustrated with me because of how inflexible I was trying to force me to touch my toes. The result was crying. The point is that I had this problem for as long as I can remember. As I grew up, it got worse. Calling it muscles stiffness in my legs was a huge understatement. Eventually, I had to deal with low back pain and tightness that I couldnt ever fully get rid of.

My patients have also described having had their muscle tension most of their lives. The importance of this is that many people have never known any difference. They have never experienced the feeling of a relaxed muscle so they may not know there is a problem.

Old Or Unsupportive Bed

Many people overlook their old, unsupportive beds as a cause for back pain and stiffness. As illustrated below, a soft, sagging, unsupportive bed will cause certain muscles to tighten, while allowing others to stretch too much. At the end of the night, the end result is you guessed it: back stiffness.

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What Are The Causes Of Tight Muscles In The Upper Back And Neck

An individual can experience stiffness or tightness of muscles in the back, shoulders, and neck as a result of various activities like weightlifting, sporting activities, having a poor posture with sitting and standing, or as a result of twisting the back or neck in an awkward manner. Muscle stiffness occurs when the muscles of the body are stretched beyond their normal limits. In case if an individual feels stiffness or tightness in the neck, shoulder, or the upper back then performing gentle stretching exercises daily goes a long way in helping to loosen up the muscles and decrease the pain. Tightness of the muscles in neck is chronic and develops over time gradually becoming worse until treatment is sought. This muscle tightness does not allow adequate blood flow in the muscles and hence the muscles do not get adequate nutrition required for them to function normally thus making these muscles weaker resulting in further tightness.

Pigeon Pose On Your Back

Mid Back Stretch and Rhomboid Release

Alexis recommends this modified pigeon pose for loosening up tight lower back muscles. To perform, start on your back.

Bend your right knee and bring the leg to your chest. Grab onto your shin and pull the leg in towards you. Keep the left leg fully extended and flat on the ground. If thats too difficult, you can also bend the left knee and rest the right ankle on top of the opposite knee. According to Alexis, the modification should look like a seated figure four pose on your back.

To deepen the stretch, reach through your legs, grab hold of your left hamstring, and pull it toward you. The rule of thumb when youre stretching with deep stretches is to hold it for as long as you can, Alexis explains. If you feel something releasing, then maybe hold it a little longer.

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Its Rarely About Range Of Motion

I am an extremely stiff person I have significant troubles with chronic pain,3 and I usually feel like I cannot move nearly as well as I would like to move.

And yet I can move just fine. If I test myself, my range of motion is perfectly normal.

People with normal ROM, or even good ROM, can feel amazingly stiff and tight. In fact, abnormal hyper-mobility is a common cause of stiffness!4 In a , more than 80% of people with hypermobility disorders claimed to feel more stiff than the average person, or way more stiff.

At the other end of the spectrum, people with measurably lousy range of motion can actually feel perfectly fine, no stiffness at all.

Why such variety? Probably because stiffness, just like pain, is an extremely unpredictable sensation overprotectively imposed on us by our brains for reasons we are often oblivious to.5

There are a handful of conditions which involve truly restricted movement , but most people with those problems usually dont talk much about stiffness. It would be like complaining about your house being too warm while its burning down.6

The symptom of stiffness usually occurs well within normal ROM, whether its large or small. You can feel stiff when you stand up from a chair an action that isnt even constrained by really poor flexibility. And when youre sore after a hard workout, you can stretch just as far as normal but it will hurt more, and many people describe that as stiffness rather than sore or painful.

Muscle Imbalances And Tightness

Below is a picture of a normal spine , and a spine of a person with lower crossed syndrome . Ideally, muscles are all used evenly and are balanced. Unfortunately, many people have lower crossed syndrome, and this usually results from lack of activity, prolonged sitting, poor posture, poor body composition , and lack of core stability. As you can see in the picture below, someone with lower crossed syndrome will have weak and often protruding abs, tight hip flexors , tight erector muscles in the low back, and inhibited, weak glutes.

People who have muscle imbalances such as lower crossed syndrome have a greater likelihood of experiencing low back stiffness in the morning, as they spend their days with abnormal stresses on their bodies. The already tightened muscles will tend to have greater tone than the weakened muscles- even while sleeping. The lack of movement during sleep makes the tight muscles feel even tighter , as they arent as warmed up as they are during the day.

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Exercises To Ease Muscle Stiffness In Your Quadriceps

If the stiffness and tightness is in the quadriceps, there are quite a few exercises you can do to relax this particular muscle.

The first is a standing quad stretch. This involves standing on one leg and lifting the foot of the other leg behind you. Grab your ankle and slowly push the heel of your foot toward your butt. Hold this position to elongate the quadriceps. If balance is an issue, use a chair or the wall to help steady yourself.

A lying quad stretch works too. The basic movement is the same as the standing quad stretch. The only difference is, instead of being on your feet, youre lying on your side. If you prefer this position, the leg closest to the ground is straight and the quad you are stretching is on top.

A kneeling quad stretch is like a lunge except youre on one knee. To do it, kneel on the knee of the leg with the tight quadricep. The other knee should be in front of you, bent at a 90-degree angle. Keeping your upper body upright, lean forward until you feel stretching in your quad. Hold this position to help elongate the muscle.

Why Are My Leg Muscles So Tight

Psoas Stretch Extreme Exercise For Lower Back Pain and Hips

Have you ever dealt with tight leg muscles? It can be troubling for many people and can make even the simplest of tasks feel so much more difficult. There are several different reasons why you might be dealing with tight leg muscles this includes:

Lack of movement: The majority of us experienced this during the pandemic, where we shifted to working from home, and gyms, malls, and other places we would walk around were closed due to COVID. Overall, we became less active than we had been before the pandemic. As we move into post-pandemic times, we are becoming more active again however, staying in one position too long can lead to muscle tightness in your legs and lower back. Try stretching every so often or going for a short walk to loosen muscles.

Overtraining: If youve been hitting the gym lately and not giving yourself rest days, you might be experiencing muscle tightness from overworking a muscle group. While I understand how important leg day can be, its good to work for different muscle groups each time you go to the gym to give the previous group some time to recover. Working out in the same groups can lead to pain in those areas.

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