Is your lower back stiff?
Hi Kathryn – I have been having a lot of stiffness in my lower back recently, especially after sitting or crouching – it is fine once I am up but takes a bit of careful movement to straighten up. Why does this happen?
Here’s the answer:
Your spine is a marvelous work of mechanical art. It can flex and rotate and tilt in many different ways. But, just because it CAN, doesn’t mean that it always LIKES what it can do.
You are supposed to have a small hollow behind your waist. That hollow means you have a small curve in your spine. The curve is shaped like a “C” and the open part of the “C” faces your back. The curve helps your spine stay in a neutral position and helps keep your head over your shoulders, where it belongs.
Some people have too much of a hollow. The muscles in their lower back often feel tight. The cause of too much curve is typically a large abdomen.
But, I’m pretty sure that’s not the problem for the person who asked the question above. More likely, here’s what’s happening.
When our person sits, he or she is allowing the curve to straighten—she is slouching. She’s sitting on her sacrum instead of her ‘sit bones.’ How do I know this?
Because she said it happens when she crouches, too. Crouching rounds the lower back outward; it moves the spinal curve in the opposite direction. It actually moves the spine.
Well, the spine is attached to muscles so when your spine moves, your muscles get moved, too. If they are moved into a position that stretches them for longer than they like, they will feel strained or stiff.
Anytime you slouch, you cause your head to move forward. When your head moves forward, it pulls the natural curve out of your lower back. When the curve is gone, you are setting yourself up for muscle strain.
How can you stop lower back stiffness?
1. Keep that small hollow behind your waist. You may have to prop a rolled towel or pillow behind your waist. The hollow is about right if you can slide your flat hand between the chair, sofa or car seat back and your back. (Men have slightly less of a hollow.)
2. Sit on your ‘sit bones.’ Avoid slouching. Press your buttocks way back into the seat.
3. If you crouch, do it for a shorter time.
Little kids can do things like crouching for long periods of time without pain. Know why? Because they are always moving! Their muscles are ALL being used.
However, as we get older most of us stop using all of our muscles. We start using only about 25% or so on a daily basis. Now our muscles are slightly out of balance and it doesn’t take much for them to get cranky and feel stiff.
You can help your back stay happy by following the three steps above.
Guest blogger Kathryn Merrow is the author of Head Pain Natural Relief (available in Kindle and print versions) and several upcoming books about natural pain relief. You can find tabs for all of her natural pain relief websites at The Pain Relief Coach
If you have any questions for Kathryn please post them below and I will pass them on to her.