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Help for a Stiff Back?
By Sean Lee on January 6, 2010 in Exercise and Performance, Healthy Living, Tip Sheets
How Do I Fix a Stiff Back?
Learn how to alleviate the “tin man” feeling after sitting for too long.
Sean Lee, NASM ACE – CPT, NSCA – CSCS
Fitness Expert, Barrington, IL
Can you suggest a few stretches to help alleviate a stiff back? Although I’m active and exercise most days I feel like the tin man if I sit for an extended period of time while at the office.
The “tin man” experience is not uncommon, especially if you spend the majority of your waking hours in a seated position. If this is your only symptom it is likely that a combination of stretching, core training, and attention to a few other details will do the trick. If the stiffness is accompanied by pain, seek advice from a licensed medical specialist who can address your specific needs.
- Sitting increases lumbar disk pressure by 30-40% relative to a standing position
- Sitting leads to poor posture and degenerative changes
- Sitting results in muscle tightness and imbalances
- Sitting weakens core muscles
- Tight hip and hamstring muscles often contribute to back stiffness or pain
- Perform a self massage using a foam roller, tennis ball, or massage stick. Massage your mid and lower back, shoulders, hips, & legs
- Cat/Cow – Decreases tension through the spine and improves disk nutrition (Cat) (Cow)
- Child’s Pose – Stretches the muscles of the mid / lower back, hips, & legs (Child’s Pose)
- Knees to Chest – Stretches the muscles of the lower back
- Standing Hip Flexor – Stretches the muscles on the front side of the hip (Standing Hip Flexor)
- The deep core stabilizing muscles are the most important for maintaining a healthy back.
- Sit ups and crunches hurt more than help when the deep core muscles are weak.
- Practice drawing your naval to your spine and holding for up to 10 seconds and repeating. This will strengthen the deep core muscles and decrease stress to your back.
- Be aware and practice good posture while sitting and standing
- Set up a workspace that is ergonomically right for you and doesn’t place excess strain to your back, neck, and shoulders.
- Get up & move frequently throughout the day. If possible don’t sit for longer than 30 minutes consecutively.