Tense Back? Here’s a Quick Way to Relax Tight Back Muscles | BPL24

by | Apr 25, 2019

Back muscles won’t relax?

Maybe that tense, constricted feeling in your back radiates to other areas; perhaps the chest or the abdomen.

Find out how to relax your back muscles today.

New: Live Streamed

Back Pain Liberation System™

Training Sessions

Learn at home with former chronic back pain sufferer

and host of the Back Pain Liberation Podcast

Iain Portrait

Iain Barker

How to relax back muscles

– Read More

So you have a tense back.

In the beginning, it would come and go but, over time, it became worse.

Now you’re asking “Why is my back so tense all the time?”

Your doctor can’t pinpoint the problem. The advice you are given is generic and just not that helpful.

When you do your own research, it’s not much better.

You read things like ‘be careful how you pick up heavy objects’, ‘exercise more’ and ‘watch your weight’.

These all sound like good ideas but, even when you’re doing this stuff, it doesn’t really help matters.

You’re still struggling with painful, tight back muscles and wondering how to relax your back.

I had this exact, same problem. Until I figured out how to get in control of the situation. How to deal with my back pain and tension effectively.

Can Stress Cause Back Pain?

 

You know about the ‘fight or flight’ response to a threatening situation.

The sympathetic nervous system kicks in, along with a whole battery of physiological changes.

  • Adrenaline flows
  • Pulse and breathing quicken
  • Muscles tense in preparation for immediate action

Once the stressful event is over fight or flight eases off and, after a while, we return to normal.

The parasympathetic nervous system takes back the reins, allowing us to ‘rest and digest’.

  • We feel calmer
  • Heart rate drops
  • Muscles relax

These two different systems complement each other.

They helped our prehistoric ancestors to survive; when the stressful event was, maybe, an occasional encounter with a dangerous animal or members of a rival tribe.

These days the stress in our lives isn’t, usually, an immediate physical threat.

Maybe you’re stuck in traffic and late for work. Or perhaps it’s public speaking, it could be at a wedding for example.

But that primal fight or flight response is hard-wired to activate whenever we experience stress.

Whether or not the stressful situation means actual physical danger fight or flight is triggered just the same.

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Chronic Stress and Muscle Tension

 

Nowadays we deal with stressful events all the time.

For some of us, chronic stress can result in the sympathetics firing way too much.

The effect of all the stressful events we face each day is cumulative.

As a result, we spend too much time at physiological red alert.

 

chronic stress response

 

 

 

 We don’t return to the parasympathetic state often enough, or for long enough.

Our reactions to this chronic stress can lead to health problems. And one of these problems is due to the tensed muscle response.

Short term, fight or flight offers a survival advantage in the face of danger.

If it goes on for too long though, excess muscular tension leads to pain and stiffness.

Particularly, this is a common cause of tense back muscles.

The Relaxation Response

 

Dr. Herbert Benson, is a pioneer of mind-body medicine and founding president of the Mind/Body Medical Institute of Harvard Medical School.

In the early 70s, Dr. Benson studied how the practice of meditation reduced the harmful effects of chronic stress, and observed what he called the Relaxation Response.

He brought his findings to public attention in his best-selling book of the same name.

It’s possible, quite easy in fact, to induce the relaxation response yourself.

By following a simple process, you can return from red alert to a normal resting state.

The key to complete relaxation is deep, focused breathing.

In some cultures, people have been doing exactly this for a very long time.

Some examples of training styles with a focus on the breath are;

  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Qigong

It’s not a coincidence that these are all great ways to relax back muscles.

About Me

 

Hi, I’m Iain Barker creator of Back Pain Liberation.

I got back pain young and it got worse over time. Like many others in this situation, I saw plenty of doctors and therapists – all to no avail.

 
Iain Portrait

 

In the end self-help worked best – it often does for bad backs. Now I train regularly, focus on what works, and don’t get back pain.

My goal is to share what I learned. To help you find a more effective way when treatment doesn’t hit the spot.

 

How to Get Back Muscles to Relax in 8 Steps

 

So, now it’s time for you to induce your very own parasympathetic state.

To experience the relaxation response yourself.

Before you start, go somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed for a while.

 

Lie down as comfortably as you can

Close the eyes

Breathe deeply and slowly all the way down to the abdomen

Let the abdomen completely relax, feel it expand as you breathe in, contract as you breathe out

Make each out-breath slightly longer than the in-breath

As much as you can, try to relax and let go of any tension in the body

Empty the mind – feel don’t think

Focus your attention on the breathing

      Here are some

      Tips to Get the Most From This Technique

       

      • Continue for 10 to 20 mins, ideally without an alarm. If you want to use a gentle meditation timer, however, this is fine.
      • People like to have a nice flat stomach – it looks good. Unfortunately the habit of holding the stomach in can lead to tension in the abdominal muscles. You’ll notice a big difference from completely relaxing the abdominals. It’s best if you can be somewhere you can relax and not worry about keeping up appearances.
      • You’ll get better results if you train regularly – once or twice a day is good.
      • It works better after movement. If you feel pain and tension when you wake up in the morning, try getting up and about first. You can work on relaxation later.
      • It’s less effective immediately after eating – wait at least an hour.
      • If your mind wanders, gently bringing your attention back to your breathing.
      • Take it to the next level with a body scan:

       

      Full Episode Transcript

       

      Click for episode transcript - BPL24
      Hello and welcome to episode 24 of the back pain liberation podcast.
      I’m Iain Barker
      Do you feel tension, discomfort, pain and restriction in the muscles of your back?
      Would you like to learn a simple way to relax your tight back muscles?
      Today’s show’s an audio version of one of the most popular posts on the back Pain Liberation Blog which was first published way back in 2016, before I started podcasting.
      It’s all about something called the Relaxation Response, which was a phrase coined by Dr. Herbert Benson professor of mind-body medicine at Harvard (Haarverd) Medical School no less
      Way back when I was taking my first, tentative steps into self-help for my back problems I stumbled upon a relaxation tape in a record shop.
      It may be, depending how old you are, that you have no idea what I just said. Let me explain.
      This was the mid 1990s. CDs had been around for a while but there was no internet for the general public. No-one imagined that we would streaming music via our computers and phones.
      We listened to audio recordings on vinyl and cassette tapes – and we had to go to a record store to buy them….this was how we rolled in those days.
      Just listening to that tape and following the relaxation technique helped me to achieve what all the treatments and therapies I had tried so far had failed to do.
      My tight back muscles relaxed and the pain eased off.
      I think it’s an important post so I’ve published an updated and revised version on the blog.
      And, of course, I don’t want all my listeners to the podcast to miss out so here goes with the new, improved tense back relaxation blog post for you now.
       
       
       
       

      So you have a tight back muscles.

      Maybe that tense, constricted feeling radiates to other areas; perhaps the chest or the abdomen.

      In the beginning, it would come and go. But over time it became worse; more frequent and more intense.

      Your doctor can’t pinpoint the problem. The advice you are given is generic and just not that helpful.

      When you do your own research, it’s not much better.

      You read things like

      * ‘be careful how you pick up heavy objects
      *‘exercise more’

      *‘watch your weight’

       

      These all sound like good ideas but, even when you’re doing this stuff, it doesn’t really help matters. You’re still struggling with painful, tight back muscles.

      I had this exact, same problem. Until I figured out how to get in control of the situation. How to deal with my back pain and tension effectively.

      == So Can Stress Cause Back Pain? ==

       
      You know about the fight or flight response to a threatening situation.
      The sympathetic nervous system kicks in, along with a whole battery of physiological changes.

      *Adrenaline flows

      *Pulse and breathing quicken

      * Muscles tense in preparation for immediate action

      Once the stressful event is over fight or flight eases off and, after a while, we return to normal.
      The  parasympathetic nervous system takes back the reins, allowing us to ‘rest and digest’.

      * We feel calmer
      *The heart rate drops

      *Muscles relax

       
      These two different systems complement each other.
      They helped our prehistoric ancestors to survive, when the stressful event was maybe an occasional encounter with a dangerous animal or members of a rival tribe.
      But these days the stress in our lives isn’t, usually, an immediate physical threat. Maybe you’re stuck in traffic and late for work. Or perhaps it’s public speaking, it could be at a wedding for example.
      But that primal fight or flight response is hard-wired to activate whenever we experience stress.
      Whether or not the stressful situation means actual physical danger, fight or flight is triggered just the same.
      And nowadays we deal with stressful stuff all the time.
      For some of us, chronic stress can result in the sympathetics firing way too much.
      As a result, we spend too much time at physiological red alert.
      We don’t return to the parasympathetic state often enough, or for long enough.
      Our reactions to this chronic stress can lead to health problems. And one of these problems is due to the tensed muscle response.
      Short term, fight or flight gives us a survival advantage in the face of danger.
      If it goes on for too long though, muscular tension leads to pain and stiffness.
      Particularly, this is a common cause of back pain.

      == So How to Relax Tight Back Muscles ==

       
      In the introduction to today’s show I mentioned Dr. Herbert Benson, a pioneer of mind-body medicine and founding president of the Mind/Body Medical Institute of Harvard Medical School.
      In the early 70s, Dr. Benson studied how the practice of meditation reduced the harmful effects of chronic stress, and observed what he called the Relaxation Response.
      He brought his findings to public attention in his best-selling book of the same name.
      It’s possible, quite easy in fact, to induce the relaxation response yourself.
      By following a simple process, you can return from red alert to a normal resting state.
      The key to complete relaxation is deep and focused breathing.
      In some cultures, people have been doing exactly this for a very long time.
      Some examples of training styles with a focus on the breath are;

      *Yoga

      *Tai Chi

      *Qigong

      It’s not a coincidence that these methods are known for promoting relaxation and helping back problems.

      So, what I want to do next, is talk you through an eight step process to induce your very own parasympathetic state.

      To experience the relaxation response yourself.

      To do this you should be somewhere quiet, where you can lie down comfortably, and won’t be disturbed for 10 minutes or so.

      You will need to give this process your full attention.
      If you can do that now, that’s great.

      But if you’re out and about, at work or you can’t do this right now for any reason, then just do it later on today.

      So hit pause now and, when you’re ready, press play again and we’ll get straight into it.

      === 8 Step Process to the Relaxation Response ===

       

      #Lie down as comfortably as you can

      #Close the eyes

      #Breathe deeply and slowly all the way down to the abdomen

      #Let the abdomen completely relax, feel it expand as you breathe in, contract as you breathe out

      #Make each out-breath slightly longer than the in-breath

      #As much as you can, try to relax and let go of any tension in the body

      #Empty the mind – feel don’t think

      #Focus your attention on your breathing

       
       
      When you’re ready, gently open your eyes and become aware of your surroundings.
       
       
       
       
      You’ll get better results if you practice inducing the relaxation response regularly – once or twice a day is good.
      Here are some tips to get the most from this technique going forward.

      *Continue for 10 to 20 mins, ideally without an alarm. but if you want to use a [http://www.onlinemeditationtimer.com/ gentle meditation timer], this is fine.

      *People like to have a nice flat stomach – it looks good. Unfortunately the habit of holding the stomach in can lead to tension in the abdominal muscles. You’ll notice a big difference from completely relaxing the abs. It’s best if you can practice somewhere you can relax and not worry about keeping up appearances.

      *It works better after movement. If you feel pain and tension when you wake up in the morning, try getting up and about first. You can work on relaxation later in the day.

      *It’s less effective immediately after eating – wait at least an hour after a meal.

      *If your mind wanders, which it will, just gently bring your attention back to the breath.

      == Of course learning to induce the relaxation response isn’t the be all and end all of overcoming back pain but it can be an easy win and get you started in the right direction. ==

       
      If your pain eases off with a simple relaxation technique, it gives you a pretty good indication of what the problem really is.
      Of course experiencing relaxation when you are lying out flat is one thing.
      Maintaining that relaxed state when you are up and about, doing all the stuff you have to do every day. This is something else.
      And this is the point of the Back Pain Liberation System.
      Relaxation is one of the key focus areas.
      Posture is another. This is about holding yourself upright against gravity while sitting, standing or moving, and doing this without excess muscle tension, discomfort and pain.
      The other key focus area in my training is, movement. Movement is essential for circulation and maintenance of healthy joints, muscles connective tissue, bones, well the whole body and mind of course.
      If you want to give it a try head over to backpainpersonaltrainer.com and book a taster session
      that’s www.backpainpersonaltrainer.com
       
      All the links for today’s show are in the show notes.
      Head to the back pain liberation blog and look for podcast episode number 24.
      While you’re there, you can download a more in- depth relaxation technique audio mp3, which includes a body scan, designed specifically for back pain sufferers.
      How did you relax your tight back muscles? Was it using this technique? Or a variation of it?
      Maybe something completely different?
      Take the chance to help out other people with the same problem.
      Explain what worked for you in the comments section at the bottom of the blog post.
      I’m Iain thanks for listening to the BPL podcast
      All the best

      New: Live Streamed

      Back Pain Liberation System™

      Training Sessions

      Learn at home with former chronic back pain sufferer

      and host of the Back Pain Liberation Podcast

      Iain Portrait

      Iain Barker

      THANKS FOR LISTENING

      Thanks for listening to the Back Pain Liberation Podcast (or if you just read the post that’s great too!)

      Of course learning to induce the relaxation response isn’t the be all and end all of overcoming back pain but it can be an easy win and get you started in the right direction.

      If your pain eases off with a simple relaxation technique, it gives you a pretty good indication of what the problem really is.

      In my experience mind body exercise where you focus on posture, relaxation and movement is a great way to fix your back pain.

      How did you relax your tense back? Was it by following the 8 steps to the relaxatin response? Or a variation of of this technique?

      Maybe something completely different?

      Take the chance to help out other people with the same problem.

      Explain what worked for you in the comments.

      All the best

      -Iain

      Music courtesy: Jahzzar www.betterwithmusic.com/

      Photos by Jonas Friese and David Pennington on Unsplash

      This website is for your information only. Consult your own doctor for medical advice.

      Any guests express their own views and no endorsement  by the Back Pain Liberation Podcast is implied.

      COMMENTS

      2 Comments

      1. I get tight back and neck muscles all the time and it’s worse when I’m stressed from work. The deep breathng and not thinking about everthing that has to get done for a while…it helps. Great post thnx.

        Reply
        • That’s great Holly! Happy to help.

          Reply

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      Music courtesy: Jahzzar www.betterwithmusic.com/

      Photos by Jonas Friese and David Pennington on Unsplash

      This website is for your information only. Consult your own doctor for medical advice.

      Any guests express their own views and no endorsement  by the Back Pain Liberation Podcast is implied.

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