Lower back pain is one of the most common woes of people around the world. Even those who have been lucky enough to avoid this health issue know all about it.
Think about it, how many times have you seen a coworker call in sick due to back pain? Yes, this is one of the most common ailments that result in a visit to the doctor.
Pain in the lower back can be due to many reasons, but the most popular one is tight muscles. Well, tense muscles are often a warning sign that you need to loosen your body to prevent further damage.
Keep in mind that you should not take stiff muscles lightly. Besides causing further health issues, they also make it difficult to perform regular activities. That said, there is much you can do to relieve them.
What You Need To Know About Tense Muscles
Tense muscles are an indication that you need to take a step back and loosen your body. Not taking the necessary precautions would be like asking for trouble in the form of worse health issues.
Stiff muscles can affect your life in many ways. They may make it difficult to move and even cause chronic pain. So it is vital to keep an eye for their signs and take action as needed.
Symptoms Of Tight Back Muscles
If you are suffering from back stiffness, you will likely feel it throughout your lower body. It may also affect the muscles in the hips, pelvis, and upper legs.
A few common indicators of lower back stiffness include spasms, tightness, pain, and cramps. However, the intensity of these varies from person to person. You may either experience them as a consistent but minor ache or as a full-blown incapacitating discomfort.
Causes Of Tight Back Muscles
Several casual aspects can result in a person having tight muscles. Here are some of the most common reasons behind this health issue:
- bad posture
- sleeping on laying down on a low-quality mattress
- taxing physical activity over a long time
It is more than alright to feel some tension and pressure because of such causes. That said, if the pain continues over a few days, you may have to take some precautionary actions to ensure you remain fit.
How Does Muscle Tension Cause Pain?
To allow body movement, the cells in the muscle tissue contract and expand. These cells go by the name muscle fibers, as they are usually long and slender. The blood vessels supply them with enough oxygen to keep them healthy.
The nervous system controls these cells and sends them electrical impulses to create the contraction for movement. In the same way, the nerves in muscle tissues send information about their condition to the brain. When they find signs of damage, they send a signal to the brain to generate a pain response.
Muscles often tense up when they want to keep internal structures from suffering damage. Situations like dehydration, overuse, and acute injuries can cause this to happen.
The loss of blood flow in stiff muscles sends the brain a pain response. With this signal, your body tells you that you need to find a release for the problem.
Home Remedies For Back Tension
While causes for low back pain can vary, several home treatments offer temporary relief. When you exercise within the comfort of your own home, you will avoid expensive medical bills. However, in case these do not work for you, it is best to consult experts.
Prevent Tension With Back Muscle Endurance
More often than not, issues in muscles originate due to weak muscle endurance. Lower back muscles, in particular, tend to be weak because of insufficient training. So it is no surprise that they are most susceptible to such problems.
Your muscles should be strong enough to contract and expand throughout the day. If your daily routine involves strenuous physical activity, this is even more crucial.
One of the easiest ways to improve muscle endurance is through stretching. Even taking out a few minutes a day for exercise can make your muscle fibers stronger. So here are a few popular ones you can try during your next workout.
One of the most popular yoga poses, this move is best for when you are just getting out of bed. The prayer pose is beneficial for stretching stiff muscles in the lower back.
To perform this move, sit with your knees on the floor and your buttocks on your feet. Stretch your upper body forward over the floor, and extend your arms as much as possible. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat in a set of five.
The pelvic thrust gets the blood flowing in the innermost muscles of your lower back. So it is a great exercise to improve their stability over time.
Lay down with your back and feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Then lift your lower back and pelvis upwards and hold for at least 30 seconds. Take a short rest and repeat in intervals of five.
The state of the lower back muscles impacts those in the hips, pelvis, and upper legs. Knee-to-chest curls are a great exercise to loosen these muscles for improved lower back support.
Get into position by lying flat on the floor. Then pull one leg into your chest while holding the outer thigh. Keep your knee bent and draw it as close to your chest as you can.
Hold the position for 15 seconds. Then try to deepen the stretch. After this, hold for another 15 seconds before letting go. You can perform this exercise in sets of five.
How Do These Stretches Help?
Of course, these stretches can help loosen tight muscles in the spinal column. However, that is not all there is to it. They can even make your muscles more supportive and reduce the load on your lower back.
Stretches rea the best way to increase both blood flow and muscle tissue strength. If you suffer from lower back pain or muscle stiffness, these exercises can provide immediate relief. Not only are they beneficial for curing flare-ups, but they can also prevent future problems.
Over-the-Counter Medications For Low Back Pain Relief
Besides stretching, you can also find over-the-counter solutions to back pain. Regular use of such medications can relieve you of pressure and pain in the lower back.
Also, you can take your pick from among the available medicines. For instance, if you do not prefer low-dose pills, you can always opt for topical ointments instead.
Topical ointments like Vicks and ICY HOT can do wonders for pain in muscle tissues. From hips to hamstrings, you can apply these salves anywhere, and they will eliminate pain quickly.
They usually have a composition of menthol, aspirin, and lidocaine. So a user either experiences a cooling or a warming sensation or sometimes even both.
Ibuprofen, Naproxen And Acetaminophen
These pain relief pills are the go-to option for most people suffering from body aches. They are very efficient in increasing blood flow as well as decreasing swelling that can be painful.
Physical Therapies To Try At Home
You can call physical therapy a blanket term for any form of physical treatment. With massages, hot and cold therapy, and exercises, you can easily fight pain in the lower back.
It is not easy to perform a massage on the lower back yourself, so find a helper. The process of massaging does not have to be super complex; even a simple kneading will suffice. Supplement your massages with a topical ointment for relieving any pain.
Hot and cold therapy, too, is pretty simple. All it involves is applying heat to stiff muscles to help them relax. You then follow this up with a cold treatment with, say an icepack, to tighten and numb them. The continuous relaxation, constriction, and numbing of muscles help rejuvenate them slowly.
Trainers often curate exercise routines to specifically target an increase in lower back core muscles and blood flow. Regular workout activities can improve the stability of your lower back and prevent back pain.
When To Seek Medical Advice From A Doctor?
Sometimes it may be necessary to visit the doctor for a physical examination of your body. Here are three situations when this may be necessary:
- home remedies have no effect
- your back pain lasts for a longer duration
- triggers for pain seem to be increasing more and more
These may signify a more serious health issue, so you should not overlook them. Here is what you can expect from your visit.
Discussing Your Medical History
Severe back tightness can be a result of deeper issues with the spine, nerves, or muscles. A consultation generally begins with a few questions from your doctor about your health information.
These cover past injuries to your lower back, your family’s medical history, and so on. Your answers to these questions will help form a plan for physical examinations and tests. It will also help your doctor understand what signs he should anticipate.
Even if doctors cannot determine a cause for your pain, they will follow up your consultation with a physical exam. Doctors employ methods like palpitation to find out the reason for back tightness. In this technique, the patient assumes a specific position as the physician applies force to trigger points.
The data from a medical study can help determine not only the cause but also the affected area. For instance, whether the issue is due to injured hamstrings, damaged nerves, or spine problems.
Physical examinations often involve medical imaging like MRIs, X-rays, and CAT scans. These can help identify whether the issue lies in the spine or somewhere completely different, like the knees.
Their purpose is to determine the cause of back discomfort and check if it is a symptom of something more serious. With these results, doctors can know how to proceed and can formulate the appropriate medical advice.
The final stage is when your doctor reveals the cause of your medical issue to you. They will also then prescribe treatment from exercises to medication and, in extreme cases, even surgery.
Back pain is not an uncommon health issue. That said, you cannot simply ignore it because it might get in the way of your regular life. Also, tight muscles can lead to serious injuries if you do not take proper precautions.
So do not overlook these issues and do what you can to treat them. After all, with tons of home remedies and medications, there is no reason to ignore your health!
I am Jessy Simon founder of Elite Healthy. I have completed a Master in Public Health Studies. I have always been interested in healthy ways of living. My journey towards achieving the fitness and health goals inspired me found Elite Healthy.