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Help for a Stiff Back?




doll joints/flickr.com

doll joints/flickr.com

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

Question:

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.

Answer:

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.

THE FACTS

  • 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

THE STRETCHES

  • 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)

CORE TRAINING

  • 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.

THE DETAILS

  • 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.



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