If you are finding your low back is always stiff, in the mornings or after light activity, here are four reasons that might be the real cause.
- Overly tight muscles in your thighs, hamstrings, and hips. Having tight muscles around your pelvis and upper legs alters the biomechanics of your spine.
Your hamstrings are the large powerful muscles at the back of your thighs. They can become tight for many reasons, but especially a lack of physical activity, long periods of sitting and a lack of stretching. When your hamstrings are tight, they become shorter. This can affect the pressure and curvature of your lower back, disrupting the alignment of your pelvis. This stiffness is especially noticeable when you bend forwards, to touch your toes or reaching for your shoes and socks.
- Sitting for long periods with your spine slumped. When you sit for a long time, these things happen to your spine:
- Increased pressure in your spinal segments.
- Reduced muscle strength in your lower and upper back = poor posture
- Decreased nutrient supply to your spinal tissues
A sedentary lifestyle can really affect your spine within an hour of an incorrect sitting posture. To avoid back stiffness, use an upright posture, a lumbar support and schedule regular breaks to re-set.
- Inflammatory changes! Inflammation can cause the joints in your spine to become less flexible and/or fuse.
The most common cause is Osteoarthritis or ‘wear and tear’. This is a breakdown of the protective cartilage between the joints. As a result, your joints create more friction when they move, causing pain and stiffness. Occasionally a disc, the spinal cushion between the vertebrae can start to protrude and this causes an inflammatory response around the spinal segments and nerves, sometimes causing radiating pain down the leg known as sciatica.
- Dehydration and shrinkage of your spinal discs.
Your spinal discs are shock absorbers between your vertebrae that allow you to bend and flex in conjunction with the joints. Age related changes can cause degeneration in these discs, altering their biomechanics. As these discs degenerate, they lose height and become less flexible causing stiffness, especially in forward bending movements.