Stiff back? Should you be doing something about it?

Many of us put a stiff back down to age and not injury. However, stiffness may be one of the early signs of dysfunction. Ignoring stiffness may put you at risk of injury. Let the Chiropractors at Hands On Health Care Clinic assess your spine and find the underlying cause of your stiffness.

Stiffness isn’t always caused by age. Research has shown that stiffness can be due to prolonged sitting. The consequence of the prolonged sitting is an increase of flexion injury of the lumbar spine which will in time contribute towards your likelihood of low back pain. It is important to get your spine assessed and moving better to help prevent the occurrence.

Some stiffness, however, is age-related that doesn’t mean you can’t change it. Stiffness is a common symptom of osteoarthritis. It is due to the inflammatory mechanism of the condition. Exercise has been shown to decrease stiffness and restriction associated with osteoarthritis in the knees and spine. Your Chiropractor can also help with soft tissue work and mobilisations. At Hands On Health, we also use a low-level light laser that has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis

Feeling stiff doesn’t always line up with flexibility restrictions. Feeling stiffness often is the result of inflammation of the joint capsule or guarding in the muscles. Researchers believe stiffness could be a protective measure. It’s likely that people who feel stiff will move less and be less likely to put stress on their spine and joints. Chronic stiffness can start to affect your day to day life and leave you at risk of other problems.

What can I do to ease stiffness?
  1. See your chiropractor. Get an assessment done on what could be causing the stiffness. Talk to them about treatment options for the underlying cause.
  2. Get moving. Gentle spinal movements like cat camel or thread the needle may be perfect for easing the stiffness you feel. It is always important to talk to your health care provider about what exercises are going to be right for you.
  3. Don’t sit for too long at a time. Our bodies prefer to be moving, everything works better when we move. Movement aids blood flow, Cerebral spinal fluid movement, digestion and more.
  4. Reduce your inflammation. Many of the food we eat especially sugars increase the amount of inflammation we produce in our body. It is important we have a healthy diet and drink plenty of water


Written by Georgina Smith B.Sc.Chiro, M.Chiro, Dip.Paed.Chiro



(1) Meisingset, I., Woodhouse, A., Stensdotter, A.K. et al. Evidence for a general stiffening motor control pattern in neck pain: a cross-sectional study. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 16, 56 (2015) doi:10.1186/s12891-015-0517-2

(2) Stanton, T.R., Moseley, G.L., Wong, A.Y.L. et al. Feeling stiffness in the back: a protective perceptual inference in chronic back pain. Sci Rep 7, 9681 (2017) doi:10.1038/s41598-017-09429-1

(3) Beach, et al. Effects of prolonged sitting on the passive flexion stiffness of the in vivo lumbar spine, The Spine Journal 2005

March 23, 2021
Georgina Smith