Today’s episode is entitled “Stiffness and lower back”, and it explains the two main things that might be going on when you feel stiffness in your lower back:

  • It’s discomfort, not stiffness
  • Reduced range of motion in your lower back

It’s discomfort, not stiffness

When someone says they have a stiff¬† lower back they mean they can’t move as well, or there’s a discomfort in their lower back. That is actually discomfort, not stiffness. Discomfort is a sensation and stiffness is a reduced range of motion. When you’re trying to push through that feeling of restriction, you’ll still have that full range of motion. It’s just uncomfortable to achieve it. The range of motion is sometimes reduced in order to protect you from doing further damage.

Reduced range of motion in your lower back

If the discomfort gets worse when you try to stand upright or arch backwards, and you can’t fully do it, you have a reduced range of motion, albeit temporary. If you try to push into that, and you can actually go into your full range of motion, you don’t have stiffness and you don’t have a reduction in range of motion. You just have discomfort.

If you feel uncomfortable when you try and arch backwards, don’t do it. Take a few moments, wide over your hips from side to side, maybe walk a few steps and you’ll be able to stand up to your full height and even get some benefit from gently arching backwards. If you explore gently, there are ways to regain that full range of motion that you perceive as stiffness in your lower back.

The biological purpose of pain or discomfort, which is ultimately mild pain, is an alarm system. It’s there to tell you that there’s a problem and you need to investigate it and do something about it. Maybe there’s something about sitting that causes discomfort in your lower back. It may be that you need to sit for shorter periods or you need to vary your posture more frequently when you are sitting.

If you’d like a free online assessment of lower back pain / sciatica, click the link.