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Can Stiff And Tight Muscles Result In Back Pain?

Can Stiff And Tight Muscles Result In Back Pain?

Your back is the primary structural support of your body. You can easily bend, extend your back, and twist your neck with the help of the back muscles. Unfortunately, stiffness and tightness in these muscles can result in pain, impairing your movement.

This article discusses the causes, treatment, and prevention of tight back muscles. Kindly read along.

Causes Of Muscle Stiffness And Tightness

Your back muscles may be stiff and tight for several reasons, including overuse of muscles, bad posture, and other underlying conditions.


After undergoing a new exercise routine or exercising after a long period of minimal motion, you may experience muscle stiffness. That is because the muscles work harder than usual, causing microscopic damage to the muscle fibers and resulting in tightness.

During exercise, you sweat, and your body loses electrolytes. Electrolytes include essential minerals, including sodium and potassium. These substances contract muscles and conduct nerve impulses. Electrolyte imbalance makes it difficult for the nervous system to control muscle movement.

Sprains And Strains

Sprains and strains also affect the muscles and ligaments. Strains occur when the back muscle fibers stretch and tear. Sprains, on the other hand, occur when the ligaments twist, stretch or tear. Spraining or straining your back muscles result in stiffness and causes pain.

You may experience a strain due to repetitive forces on the back muscles during athletic or occupational activities. In addition, lifting a heavy object may result in a sudden strain.

Furthermore, a bad posture strains your back muscles, triggering the muscles to create more stability. Consequently, this results in tightness, interfering with your daily activities.

Polymyalgia Rheumatica

This condition primarily occurs in the mornings and is especially common in older people. Polymyalgia rheumatica is an inflammatory disease that causes excruciating pain, sleeping difficulties, and problems getting out of a chair.


Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that causes muscle stiffness and tightness. People with this condition are usually more sensitive to pain. In addition, unexplained muscle stiffness that doesn’t go away for a long time or respond to home remedies may result from fibromyalgia.


Inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis are also causes of muscle stiffness. Inflammatory arthritis results from the inflammation of the joints, and it is prevalent in young men. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is more common in older people. This pain results from accumulated damage resulting from muscle wear and tear over time.

Furthermore, rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that causes stiffness and tightness in the joint’s linings. This condition is autoimmune, i.e., the body’s immune system is abnormally activated and fights against normal body tissues.


Infection of the bones in the spine may result in acute or chronic back pain. Vertebral or spinal osteomyelitis are bacterial and fungal infections that result in muscle stiffness. People susceptible to this infection have weakened immune systems, recent injuries, or are undergoing hemodialysis.

Symptoms Of Muscle Stiffness In The Back

When you have muscle stiffness, you may experience pain and stiffness that worsens in the morning. Your back may also have specific tender points, and you may experience intermittent muscle spasms. Other symptoms of a stiff back include tiredness, sleep difficulties, and decreased leg strength.

When Should You See A Doctor For Muscle Stiffness?

Muscle stiffness should relieve on its own with some exercises and stretching. However, if the cause of the stiffness is an underlying condition, you may need to visit your doctor. It would be best to see your doctor if your back stiffness lasts for over two weeks and affects your ability to carry out your normal activities.

In addition, if the stiffness is prevalent in the mornings or you have been diagnosed with arthritis before, you need to visit your doctor. You should also see your doctor if you experience stiffness in other muscles and joints.

It is important to note that you may need emergency treatment if you experience back stiffness accompanied by weakness in your legs and loss of control over your bladder and bowel function. Also, if you experience fever and fatigue, contact your doctor immediately.

How Does Your Doctor Diagnose Muscle Stiffness?

Muscle stiffness can result from improper posture, sprains, or underlying conditions. It may be challenging to know the exact cause of this stiffness, except when you visit your doctor. Your doctor will assess your medical history and symptoms and conduct a physical examination.

Your doctor may ask you to perform specific movements during the examination to see if the stiffness affects your range of motion. Suppose your doctor suspects the cause of the stiffness to be an underlying condition. In that case, you may undergo blood tests to determine the exact condition.

Treatment For Muscle Stiffness

The treatment for muscle stiffness depends on the cause. Usually, the pain subsides on its own after at-home remedies. However, if the stiffness occurs due to an underlying condition, you may have to visit a doctor for a diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan.

Home Remedies

If you have a stiff back, you can apply ice if it results from an injury. A heating pad can also help relieve pain and stiffness. You can also use pain medications like NSAIDs, including ibuprofen, to alleviate your back pain.

Other at-home remedies for muscle stiffness include getting a massage and light activities. Unfortunately, bed rest can worsen the stiffness and pain.

Medical Treatments

Depending on the cause of your back pain, your doctor may recommend physiotherapy and anti-inflammatory medications. If the stiffness results from arthritis, you may get steroid injections. They may also refer you for surgery.

Physiotherapy For Stiff Back

Physiotherapy in Barrie, ON, can help relieve stiff joints and muscles. Your physiotherapist will use different treatments to reduce pain, increase your range of motion, and increase your spine’s flexibility. The treatment usually consists of massages, acupuncture, and therapeutic exercises to strengthen your muscles. These exercises for loosening stiff muscles may include;


Physiotherapists massage your back to loosen tight muscles. Your physiotherapist in Barrie, ON, may stroke or knead your back to relieve muscle tension. In addition, deep tissue massage is another technique that helps physiotherapists increase blood flow to your muscles and remove stiffness resulting from poor posture or injuries.


Physiotherapists use acupuncture to restore the body’s balance and energy by relieving pain and inflammation. This technique uses fine needles at various trigger points to stimulate energy flow. Before recommending acupuncture, your physiotherapist will take note of your symptoms and the cause of muscle stiffness.

Strengthening Exercises

Different muscles surround the body’s core, including stomach, spinal, buttock, pelvic, and hip muscles. A weak core does not evenly distribute weight around your spine, causing back pain. But with core-strengthening exercises, you can build your core strength and endurance, loosening the muscles and improving your range of motion.

Your physiotherapist in Barrie may recommend some core strengthening exercises, including bird dog, crunches, high and low planks, and the cat-cow pose.

Lumbar Stabilizing Exercises

Although the back is the primary structural support of the body, strong hips and legs are still needed to support the lower body. Inefficient hip and leg muscles can cause stiffness in the back muscles, resulting in pain and instability. Your physiotherapist may recommend stretches to strengthen your lower body muscles and improve coordination between your spine and the lower body.

Some lumbar stabilizing exercises include squats, lunges, downward dog, and hamstring stretches.

Postural Training

Bad posture can strain your back muscles—improper posture results from lifestyle and improper ergonomics. Consequently, improper posture can stiffen the back muscles, making daily activities difficult. Your physiotherapist may recommend posture correction exercises to stretch and strengthen your back muscles.

Some posture correction exercises include pelvic tilts, seated squats, and calf stretches.

How To Prevent Muscle Stiffness And Tightness

Although age and underlying factors are risk factors for muscle stiffness, lifestyle changes can help prevent muscle stiffness. Preventive measures for very tight muscles include;

  • Exercise Regularly. Regular exercise improves blood circulation and flows to your back muscles. Consequently, this enhances function and range of motion, preventing muscle tightness.
  • Practice good posture. If you work for long periods at a desk, use ergonomic furniture to support your back. In addition, ensure your furniture at home provides the necessary comfort and support.
  • Avoid long periods of inactivity. Walking around and stretching can loosen your muscles and prevent muscle tightness. If you work at a desk, you can set the alarm or notifications to remind you to intermittently take a couple of stretches.
  • Staying hydrated and eating nutritious foods. Drinking enough water during the day balances your electrolytes and thus prevents muscle stiffness.


Although the muscle stiffness should go away by itself, you should visit your doctor if the pain lasts more than two weeks. Then, your physiotherapist will recommend treatment based on the cause of the muscle stiffness.

Physiotherapy in Barrie, ON, can help loosen tight back muscles through recommended exercises, massages, stretches, and acupuncture. Never hesitate to get the much-needed pain relief anytime you need it!