“My back and neck feel so stiff all the time, I probably need to stretch more, right!?”
If you sit for work, love a Netflix binge or spend a lot of time being an uber for the kids you might know the feeling of standing up and feeling like your back is made of concrete. And while stretching might make it feel good for a little while after – here is why your spine feels stiff again so quickly.
Our spine has little muscles between vertebrae that stabilise the joints. We also have big muscles to move the joints. When we sit all day, over time, we decondition the little stabilising muscles due to lack of movement and input. This creates instability in the spine and when the brain senses this and stops getting good information from the little joints it uses the big muscles to try and do the job instead. Now your back has started to stiffen! The problem is the big muscles are designed to do big movements like bending or twisting not be switched on all the time for tiny micro movements- it’s like a sprinter trying to run a marathon or a tradie doing key hole surgery, wrong person for the job.
Not only do the big muscles do a subpar job they also get tired at the end of the day. The longer we are inactive, the more tired the big muscles get (metabolically fatigued) and so they can feel not just stiff but achy and sore. We may also feel our spine pinching sometimes as we move suddenly, get up too quickly or roll in bed. The pinching pain is a warning from our brain about the instability – the little guys aren’t doing their job! If we stretch the big muscles, they feel good for a little while, but the little muscles are still underactive and creating instability.
So how do we fix this?
Unfortunately, a lot of our sitting time is nonnegotiable, BUT we can do few things to offset our sitting and activate the spines stabilisers. Take microbreaks! Avoid sitting down for more than 1 hour at time, get up and move around for 1 minute every hour, chat to a co-worker or get a glass of water. If you can’t stand, gentle spinal movements like turning your head from side to side or tilting your pelvis back and forward are still helpful. The best news is that ANY movement is better than being sedentary. So, pick something you like and do it every day! Walking, gym, running, table tennis, dancing .. regular, fun movement is your spines friend.
See your Chiroporactor – Spinal Manipulation works by applying a quick stretch to the little muscles of your spine. You might love hearing the click during an adjustment but it’s the quick movement in the stabilising muscles that gives our brain all the info it needs to move and control our joints! Research shows that these helpful tips work best in combination with one another, so next time you feel stiff think about how you can get your spine moving!
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