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How To Avoid a Stiff Back While Sitting

Why Your Back is Stiff When You Sit

You’ve never read anything like this article before. I wrote this for people who work from home, at a kitchen table or other less-than-ideal workstation, and need guidance on how to get to the home office right.  Is stiffness between your shoulders, neck, and shoulders, or low back debilitating you?

As a general rule, people involved in sedentary activities, lack of exercise, increased stress levels, sedentary activities, and people who sit too much can develop back stiffness. This stiffness often occurs gradually or suddenly but is more common among older individuals.

During thirty years of studying biomechanics, performing thousands of case studies, and working ‘hands-on with people who suffer from back stiffness, I helped thousands of people working from home who felt uncomfortably stiff enjoy a more youthful existence.

Is Back Stiffness Normal?

man experiencing back stiffness while working at a computer

Wake up with a stiff and painful body? It’s not your fault! Research has shown that many people start their days feeling this way. I see it every day in my practice. In the morning, isn’t life supposed to be easy before you hit the streets with your eight-hour meetings or whatever we have on our schedule? Unfortunately, we can’t control everything, but we can prevent these unfortunate conditions by identifying causes and preventing them from repeating.

What Causes Back Stiffness?

woman experiencing back and shoulder pain while working on a laptop

Posture is key to back health. If your posture begins slipping, you can be sure that stiff muscles will soon follow! Lumbar (lower) pain is the most common symptom of a hollowed-out lower spine and tight hip flexors. Stiffness sets into one’s lumbar region when muscle spasms cause the vertebrae at the base of their spinal column to too close together and keep them there with constant pressure on nerves linking up those bones. That tension leads not just to fatigue but also chronic pain.  That’s why it’s important for everyone from children to adults – especially in our culture where sitting all day has become so normal -to make good habits now because we are only as young as our backs enable us to be.

How to Stop Your Back From Being Stiff:

woman without back pain sleeping on a pillow

  • Sleep enough to repair your body – A lack of sleep can lead to additional back stiffness, making it challenging to get restorative sleep. Getting enough restorative sleep is crucial for the body’s tissues to heal and replenish energy. Poor mattresses can cause poor sleeping positions and strain your muscles at a time when they should be relaxing. Poor sleeping postures can worsen through the evening, causing back injuries, inflammation and disc problems. The best choice for you in terms of comfort, better alignment, no pressure points, non-toxicity, and eco-friendliness is a natural latex mattress.

man exercising his core muscles

  • Exercise your core – The back muscles are a muscle group that is rarely used throughout life due to prolonged periods of sitting down or slouching on the job, leading to stiffness from chronic lower back strain while performing simple tasks like lifting children off the couch. For you and your family members not to encounter this issue, it’s essential to be aware of what these three clusters do during daily activities:


Cluster A– engages in extension movements with other groups such as abdominals when standing up straight 

Cluster B – flexion movement into the spine, including spinal erectors, can become weakened over time if they don’t receive sufficient stimulation through exercises correctly and engage in axial rotation around the upright torso position.  

Clusters C – work together too by holding body weight

Your body is like a machine, which has many parts that work together. When the movement in one area of your body decreases or becomes too weak for its intended function, you have to readjust how often you use those muscles because they’re not as strong anymore, and it feels natural now- other areas will compensate by doing more work than before. 

If we stop using certain muscle groups then their opposite counterparts may develop increased strength compared to what would be expected at baseline. It’s up to us whether this happens with exercise and maintaining good posture so our back stays healthy!

Here is a video that will help you if you suffer from low back stiffness. If you are suffering from low back stiffness, you can check out a video I made that can help you.  

infrared heating pad for back pain

  • Infrared Heating Pad – In my opinion, an infrared heat pad is superior to a regular electric heating pad at reducing muscle tension and pain than a traditional, electric-coil heating pad. The main reason for this difference in results is that an infrared light penetrates deep into bodily tissue. At the same time, the heat generated by an electrical coil only affects skin surface area.

a male chiropractor

  • Get a Good Chiropractor – When dealing with an aching back, there are many solutions to choose from. One of the best ways is to get in touch with your chiropractor, who may recommend stretches and exercises you can do on your own at home long-term. They may also offer adjustments that help alleviate misalignments, release muscle tension/stress and loosen joints for more mobility without pain!  Working closely with a professional like this will allow you not only to achieve relief faster but maintain it as well, so stiffness doesn’t return later down the line.

a pair of air compression boots

  • Air Compression Boots – Lymphatic drainage is a popular massage technique that I use at my office, especially for patients who feel stiff all the time. Air compression boots are specially designed to increase the flow of lymph, responsible for transporting nutrients and oxygen throughout your body. Compared to blood vessels that pump by themselves, our lymphatic vessels are twice as many as arterial ones, requiring more pressure from external sources like rhythmic strokes or muscle contraction both at low levels.  Air compression devices, such as those used in physical therapy and medical treatments like lymphatic drainage massage, are designed to force fluids through the body’s tissue. Just like a sewer system transports your wastewater from one place to another so that it can be cleaned or reused elsewhere; similarly, air compression relies on pressure changes–created by the movement of blood within muscles–to move fluid through the rest of your body without any outside intervention needed.

bar of soap

  • Bar of Soap – I know this sounds crazy, but try putting a bar of soap between your sheets. It may actually work! Soap bars contain magnesium, which reduces muscle cramping and stiffness during sleep.

Why Your Back is Stifftiff in the Morning

A stiff back may occur during sleep due to two factors: either your muscles may tighten without movement, or your back will sleep on one side for too long. Furthermore, as we grow older, our discs will lose their flexibility resulting in pain even when waking up.

Does My Stiff Back Have to be Diagnosed with an MRI?

Back pain is a common problem that many people experience. Fortunately, it usually resolves without treatment and does not indicate the presence of an underlying medical condition. However, in these cases, imaging should be performed to determine if spinal cord compression or infection have occurred since sudden back stiffness has occurred along with other symptoms such as leg weakness or fevers (especially if fevers accompany them).

Imaging can also help establish the diagnosis for various forms of arthritis and provide information about how severe the disease might progress based on the scans’ results at different stages.

Can Arthritis Cause Back Stiffness in Young People?

Back pain is a common ailment among young people. Ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis may cause back stiffness in adolescents. These conditions can be difficult to diagnose because they share many symptoms with other diseases such as osteoporosis or cancerous malignancies along your spine.

When You  Should Seek Medical Care with a Stiff Back:

  • If the pain radiates from your back down your leg, it may be from a herniated disc or sciatica irritation. 
  • When back pain occurs after an accident or an underlying condition such as rheumatism or osteoporosis, you should always seek medical advice.
  • Get in touch with your doctor right away if you experience unusually strong leg pain, numbness, or paralysis, along with accompanying symptoms that cannot be explained, such as fever or urinary incontinence.


Back stiffness is a common problem for many people. It can be caused by sitting too long and not stretching in the morning; dehydration that creates tight muscles which are unable to relax as they should; poor posture during sleep at night because of bad bedding, etc. Luckily these causes can all be rectified with some lifestyle changes and modifications so you never have to feel stiff again!

**As a service to our readers, Axial Chairs provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of the last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

Medical Disclaimer: This website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Product Disclaimer: The seat cushion is designed by a chiropractor, but results may vary and are not guaranteed. The product is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any medical condition.

   This post has been quality checked in line with our Editorial and Research Policy.

Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Dr Lawrence Woods DC


My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort.

With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience in Ireland as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sitting for living a happy and healthy life.

I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.


Dr Lawrence Woods

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort. With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sleep for living a happy and healthy life. I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

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