What Causes a Stiff Back in the Morning?

waking up with a stiff backAccording to statistics, half of all adult Americans experience back pain and stiffness each year, quite often having a stiff back in the morning. Most frequently experienced by adults aged between 30 and 50, back pain can also be caused by aging, injury and an inactive lifestyle.

What causes a stiff back in the morning

There are a number of reasons why the back can be stiff in the morning, mainly posture and fitness, inadequate mattress and pillow support, arthritis and disease, and incorrect methods of lifting, carrying and sitting in the workplace.

Good posture, with the spine’s natural curves maintained within the back, and a correct alignment of ear, shoulder and hip, lessens the risk of back pain. Poor posture, often caused by inappropriate footwear such as high heels or shoes which do not offer support, can pull the pelvis out of alignment and force the lower back to curve excessively. Bad posture is one of the main contributors to morning back pain and stiffness.

The abdominal muscles and the back muscles support the spine almost like a corset. Known as the core muscles, when kept strong they help the spine remain in the correct position and reduce the risk of injury. Weak abdominal muscles may be a reason for morning back pain and stiffness.

Morning Back Pain Caused From Bad Mattress Or Pillows

If the back is stiff and painful only in the mornings there could be a problem with the bed mattress or pillows not supporting the neck and spine correctly. A firm pillow should be used, low enough not to tilt the head and neck in an unnatural position.

The mattress should also be firm and not curve the spine excessively. If sleeping on the stomach, a pillow placed under the stomach will reduce pressure on the lower back.

A pillow placed between the knees when sleeping on the side will keep the body aligned and prevent the upper leg from rolling back or forwards, twisting the spine. It also relieves pressure on the sacroiliac joint in the pelvis.

Ways To Alleviate Stiff Back In The Morning

Sleeping on your back with a low pillow is one of the best ways to alleviate morning back pain.

Morning-only pain and stiffness can also be caused by arthritis. Taking a hot bath or shower, and gentle movement tend to relieve the stiffness.  In this situation it is wise to consult a medical practitioner for a correct diagnosis and appropriate pain treatment. Diseases such as fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis can also cause back stiffness that eases with movement though other joints are usually affected as well.

Incorrect methods of lifting heavy objects in the work place can cause strain and overuse of back muscles. Sitting incorrectly at a desk with a slumped back and no support for long periods is a prime cause of back pain.  It is important to maintain good posture and take exercise breaks to ease pressure on the pelvic muscles and lower back.

A stiff back in the morning may just be due to a cramped sleeping position. It could also be a symptom of poor health, injury and strain. So, asking what causes a stiff back in the morning is an important question. See your healthcare practitioner to rule out serious issues.