IS YOUR “STIFF BACK” ACTUALLY STIFF?
Is your “stiff back” truly a stiff back?
Newly published research has shown that the experience of feeling “stiff” does not reflect actual biomechanical back stiffness (Stanton et al., 2017).
This perception of stiffness that we sometimes experience may actually be a protective sensitivity produced by our bodies to reduce movement or potential injury.
Any pain, discomfort or “stiffness” we experience at any time, any where in our body is produced by our central nervous system (CNS), and there are many influential factors that modify CNS outputs. Actual joint mobility (or lack thereof) is only one of them.
Your CNS is influenced by expectations of pain, fear of harm or activity and poor beliefs – and all of these factors can cause our bodies to want to protect themselves, causing the feeling of stiffness in the absence of a physical lack of mobility.
So why does my back feel “looser” or “less stiff” when I stretch or mobilise?
Well often these types of movements are enough to desensitise our CNS, and take away our bodies need to produce this experience of “protective stiffness”. It is incredibly important to remind yourself that our backs are strong, healthy, resilient structures that respond well to movement and exercise!
B. Health Sciences (Physio), APAM