Whether you’ve had lower back issues in the past or not, waking up with back stiffness in the morning is almost certainly something you’ve experienced before.  We’re talking about the kind of stiffness that gives you back pain when bending forward at the waist or when putting on pants, socks and shoes.

You might also notice that once you’ve been up and active for a half hour or so, had your breakfast and a shower, that your lower back starts to feel more “normal” again.

You may have come to accept your back stiffness as something you just have to deal with each day, or it might even be worsening over time.  As an Austin chiropractor, hearing  from patients complaining of morning back pain or stiffness is a regular occurrence for us.

Here’s why.

The Top 3 possible causes for your morning back stiffness are:

  1. You have a low-grade back injury.  Even if you haven’t fallen down the stairs recently, your back may have been “insulted” on some level, whether from poor posture, hours of sitting at a computer, an overly ambitious session of yard work, or starting a new exercise program.  Or you might have had a back injury in the past that never healed properly, and has never been quite the same since.  In either case, remember that you can still doing something about your back now, no matter how long you’ve been hurting, and usually quite easily.  For example, our low back treatment plans average 4-8 sessions, and we consistently see excellent results with our patients in that time.
  2. Your mattress needs to retire.  Over time, mattresses lose their ability to support your back throughout the night and can gradually cause you to develop bad sleep postures that can aggravate your lower back.  If your mattress is a teenager, it’s definitely at retirement age, but up to 10 years is a safe lifespan for most beds.  Choose a mattress that is both relatively firm and comfortable enough for you to sleep on.  While mattresses rarely cause actual injuries, an old or unsupportive mattress can certainly aggravate an existing condition.
  3. You have arthritis.  After the age of 35 or so, consistent morning back stiffness could mean you have osteoarthritis, but don’t panic — it’s not a death sentence.  While spinal arthritis typically means your discs start thinning and the bone around your joints starts to thicken (known as bone spurs), a good chiropractor or physical therapist can get you on a rehab plan that can make a huge difference in how you feel — both in the morning and throughout your day.

If you have morning back stiffness, ask yourself this question:

“Compared to a year ago, does my back feel better, worse or about the same?” 

If your back stiffness is the same or worse than a year ago (or even a month or two ago), that’s a good indication to get yourself checked out.  And don’t be afraid of getting bad news when you go to the doctor!  All 3 of the causes of morning stiffness we just discussed have very real, very helpful NON-SURGICAL treatments.  We should know.  We help patients work through these problems and get back to their active lives every day.

If you’d like to get back to the active, vibrant life you once had, don’t wait — click here to schedule an appointment with us today!  Consultations are always free, so you have nothing to lose.  And the sooner you get started, the sooner you can start feeling and functioning better!

Sleep is an important time for your body.  It’s when you “re-stock the shelves”, replenish your stores and repair the wear & tear from your day.  If you’re waking up stiff and sore, chances are you’re not getting the most from your resting hours.  Wouldn’t you like to wake up refreshed every morning, feeling warm, loose and flexible?

And if you’re not able to get checked out by a doctor right away, I’ve created a FREE 5-minute “Back Pain Tips” video tutorial on how to put on socks and shoes, get out of bed and up from a chair much more comfortably when your back is stiff.  These are simple “movement hacks” that can make everyday life a lot easier when you’re hurting.  These are the same tips I recommend for my patients with back pain.  Try them out and see what you think!



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