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

by | Apr 25, 2019

So you have 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.

 

More Episodes

of the

Back Pain Liberation

Podcast

BPL13: Upper and Lower Cross Syndrome Explained with James Tang

Upper and lower cross syndrome – the two basic postural dysfunctions according to James Tang. Find out how to deal with recurring back pain. Podcast episode show notes.

BPL5: Back Pain from Sitting Too Much

Back pain from sitting too much. Listen to Karen Gabler on the iliopsoas,movement, core training, posture habits and the mind body connection

BPL16: Back Pain Trigger Points

Find out about back pain trigger points with Dr. Jeremy James. Win a copy of The Younger Next Year Back Book. Podcast show notes.

Anxiety and Back Pain [Book Giveaway]

Anxiety and Back Pain. How to improve your emotional state. Gut health, chronic pain and depression – Heather Pearsons go-to recipe. Book Giveaway | BPL29

Active Release Technique [ART]

Active Release Technique [ART] Tight hip flexor release for lower back pain. Root cause of piriformis syndrome. BPL28 with Heather Pearson

BPL20: When “Correcting” Posture Causes Pain

When “correcting” posture causes pain with Dr. Sebastian Gonzales. Win an audiobook copy of ‘I Will Beat Back Pain’. Podcast show notes.

BPL19: MRI for Back Pain

MRI for Back Pain. Dr. Sebastian Gonzales explains the merits and limitations of MRI scans for back pain diagnosis. Podcast show notes.

BPL11: Should I Go to the Doctor for Back Pain

Should I go to the doctor for back pain? Should we treat back pain as a medical problem, to be dealt with by medical professionals? Alternatively, should we try to tackle the problem ourselves? Avoid frustration by having a more concrete idea of what your doctor can actually do for you.

BPL15: Creep and Back Pain

Creep and back pain with Dr. Jeremy James. Sitting still for 20 minutes or longer puts your back at risk. Find out how to avoid creep. Podcast show notes.

BPL18: Lower Back Pain after Deadlifting

How to avoid lower back pain after deadlifting with Dr Sebastian Gonzales•Morning Back Pain•Tight Lower Back Muscles•Movement Is Medicine•Podcast show notes

BPL6: Outwitting the Crooked Back Pain Industry

Find out how to outwit the crooked back pain industry and take control of your own well-being with Cathryn Jakobson Ramin.

BPL9: Lack of Motivation to Exercise

Lack of Motivation to Exercise. Tips and tricks to get motivated and get training from the creator of Moving Stretch, Suzanne Wylde and host, Iain Barker. Also back pain prevention, mind-body connection and resistance stretching.

BPL22: Can a Rib out of Place Cause Back Pain?

Can a rib out of place cause back pain? Listen to Vienna Dunham Schmidt explain release of tight muscles around the ribs. Podcast show notes.

BPL21: Ortho-Bionomy with Vienna Dunham Schmidt

Ortho-Bionomy explained by Vienna Dunham Schmidt•Tight Muscles and Chronic Pain•Ortho-Bionomy Therapy•Stress Mindfulness and Breathing•Podcast show notes

Back Pain from Driving

Back pain from driving with Abby Beauchamp author of Reverse Button. Download free guide: How to Avoid Back Pain from Driving | Podcast BPL30

BPL:10 Listen to Your Body with Suzanne Wylde

Listen to your body. Keep an open mind and try things. Whatever works for you has got to be good. So says the founder of Moving Stretch, Suzanne Wylde in episode 10 of the Back Pain Liberation podcast. Find podcast links and show notes here.

BPL8: Moving Stretch with Suzanne Wylde

Moving Stretch creator Suzanne Wylde on back pain self care and stretching for less flexible people, A must-listen if you have an inflexible back. Can emotional stress cause back pain?

BPL17: What Does a Chiropractor Do?

What does a chiropractor do? Find out what a chiropractor can do for your back pain. Overcoming anxiety to beat back pain. Podcast show notes.

Intentional Living

How to live a more intentional life to break the cycle of chronic pain | Healing power of dogs | Relax tight back muscles audio download | Podcast BPL31

BPL4: Sacroiliac Joint Release with Karen Gabler

According to Karen Gabler, most back pain is from a misaligned or stuck sacroiliac joint at the base of the spine. Find out about sacroiliac joint release.

BPL2: End Back Pain Forever with Chris Kidawski

Find out how to end back pain forever in this podcast interview with Chris Kidawski. In his new book he explains his myofascial release process.

BPL7: How Cathryn Jakobson Ramin Trains to Beat Back Pain

Cathryn Jakobson Ramin talks about core training myths and mistakes to avoid. Find out her approach to training a strong, functional core and beating back pain. Podcast links and show notes.

BPL3: Myofascial Release Exercises with Chris Kidawski

Find out how to end back pain forever, second half of the podcast interview with Chris Kidawski. In his new book he explains his myofascial release process.

BPL12: Live Pain-Free with Lee Albert
SHOW NOTES Live Pain-Free: Eliminate Chronic Pain without Drugs or Surgery.   Find more episodes here Lee Albert was a newly-qualified massage therapist when, over 30 years ago, a car accident left him suffering frequent migraine headaches. For 3 years he sought help...
BPL23: Back Pain and Horse Riding

BPL23: Back pain and horse riding. Listen to Dr. Jim Warson, author of The Rider’s Pain-Free Back on back strengthening exercises, the right horse + tack.

BPL14: How to Fix a Thrown out Back with Dr Jeremy James

How to Fix a Thrown out Back. Dr Jeremy James says it’s better to get moving straight away. Hear how to fix your thrown out back faster! Podcast show notes.

Back Pain after a Car Accident [Podcast BPL26]

What to do about back pain after a car accident with respected therapist and author of Back Pain Free, Heather Pearson. [Podcast BPL26]

BPL1: Pilates for Back Pain with Gillian Greenwood

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

Learn a simple way to relax your tight back muscles. Find out the 8 steps to the ‘Relaxation Response’ in the blog post or accompanying podcast episode.

Healing Visualization [2 Easy Wins for your Inner Game]

Discover 2 visual hacks to motivate and inspire you in your journey out of chronic pain. With Heather Pearson, creator of the Pearson method

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.

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.

This is an update of a post which was first published November 2016. It is now also available in audio format on the Back Pain Liberation Podcast – episode number 24.

 

Click the play button to listen to this episode now

 

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

 

Back pain at a young age

In good shape but suffering back pain? You’re not the only one. Learn how others beat the problem in these success stories.

How to Relax Tight Back Muscles

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 methods are known for promoting relaxation and helping back problems.

 

The Relaxation Response 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.

 

  1. Lie down as comfortably as you can
  2. Close the eyes
  3. Breathe deeply and slowly all the way down to the abdomen
  4. Let the abdomen completely relax, feel it expand as you breathe in, contract as you breathe out
  5. Make each out-breath slightly longer than the in-breath
  6. As much as you can, try to relax and let go of any tension in the body
  7. Empty the mind – feel don’t think
  8. 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:

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

More Episodes

of the

Back Pain Liberation

Podcast

Anxiety and Back Pain [Book Giveaway]

Anxiety and Back Pain. How to improve your emotional state. Gut health, chronic pain and depression – Heather Pearsons go-to recipe. Book Giveaway | BPL29

BPL9: Lack of Motivation to Exercise

Lack of Motivation to Exercise. Tips and tricks to get motivated and get training from the creator of Moving Stretch, Suzanne Wylde and host, Iain Barker. Also back pain prevention, mind-body connection and resistance stretching.

BPL20: When “Correcting” Posture Causes Pain

When “correcting” posture causes pain with Dr. Sebastian Gonzales. Win an audiobook copy of ‘I Will Beat Back Pain’. Podcast show notes.

BPL18: Lower Back Pain after Deadlifting

How to avoid lower back pain after deadlifting with Dr Sebastian Gonzales•Morning Back Pain•Tight Lower Back Muscles•Movement Is Medicine•Podcast show notes

BPL14: How to Fix a Thrown out Back with Dr Jeremy James

How to Fix a Thrown out Back. Dr Jeremy James says it’s better to get moving straight away. Hear how to fix your thrown out back faster! Podcast show notes.

BPL12: Live Pain-Free with Lee Albert
SHOW NOTES Live Pain-Free: Eliminate Chronic Pain without Drugs or Surgery.   Find more episodes here Lee Albert was a newly-qualified massage therapist when, over 30 years ago, a car accident left him suffering frequent migraine headaches. For 3 years he sought help...
BPL19: MRI for Back Pain

MRI for Back Pain. Dr. Sebastian Gonzales explains the merits and limitations of MRI scans for back pain diagnosis. Podcast show notes.

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

Learn a simple way to relax your tight back muscles. Find out the 8 steps to the ‘Relaxation Response’ in the blog post or accompanying podcast episode.

BPL13: Upper and Lower Cross Syndrome Explained with James Tang

Upper and lower cross syndrome – the two basic postural dysfunctions according to James Tang. Find out how to deal with recurring back pain. Podcast episode show notes.

BPL7: How Cathryn Jakobson Ramin Trains to Beat Back Pain

Cathryn Jakobson Ramin talks about core training myths and mistakes to avoid. Find out her approach to training a strong, functional core and beating back pain. Podcast links and show notes.

BPL2: End Back Pain Forever with Chris Kidawski

Find out how to end back pain forever in this podcast interview with Chris Kidawski. In his new book he explains his myofascial release process.

BPL6: Outwitting the Crooked Back Pain Industry

Find out how to outwit the crooked back pain industry and take control of your own well-being with Cathryn Jakobson Ramin.

BPL17: What Does a Chiropractor Do?

What does a chiropractor do? Find out what a chiropractor can do for your back pain. Overcoming anxiety to beat back pain. Podcast show notes.

BPL3: Myofascial Release Exercises with Chris Kidawski

Find out how to end back pain forever, second half of the podcast interview with Chris Kidawski. In his new book he explains his myofascial release process.

BPL1: Pilates for Back Pain with Gillian Greenwood

Find out about the benefits of Pilates for back pain in this podcast episode with Gillian Greenwood. Gillian has been teaching Pilates for 17 years

BPL:10 Listen to Your Body with Suzanne Wylde

Listen to your body. Keep an open mind and try things. Whatever works for you has got to be good. So says the founder of Moving Stretch, Suzanne Wylde in episode 10 of the Back Pain Liberation podcast. Find podcast links and show notes here.

BPL8: Moving Stretch with Suzanne Wylde

Moving Stretch creator Suzanne Wylde on back pain self care and stretching for less flexible people, A must-listen if you have an inflexible back. Can emotional stress cause back pain?

BPL23: Back Pain and Horse Riding

BPL23: Back pain and horse riding. Listen to Dr. Jim Warson, author of The Rider’s Pain-Free Back on back strengthening exercises, the right horse + tack.

BPL4: Sacroiliac Joint Release with Karen Gabler

According to Karen Gabler, most back pain is from a misaligned or stuck sacroiliac joint at the base of the spine. Find out about sacroiliac joint release.

BPL5: Back Pain from Sitting Too Much

Back pain from sitting too much. Listen to Karen Gabler on the iliopsoas,movement, core training, posture habits and the mind body connection

Healing Visualization [2 Easy Wins for your Inner Game]

Discover 2 visual hacks to motivate and inspire you in your journey out of chronic pain. With Heather Pearson, creator of the Pearson method

Back Pain from Driving

Back pain from driving with Abby Beauchamp author of Reverse Button. Download free guide: How to Avoid Back Pain from Driving | Podcast BPL30

BPL16: Back Pain Trigger Points

Find out about back pain trigger points with Dr. Jeremy James. Win a copy of The Younger Next Year Back Book. Podcast show notes.

Active Release Technique [ART]

Active Release Technique [ART] Tight hip flexor release for lower back pain. Root cause of piriformis syndrome. BPL28 with Heather Pearson

BPL22: Can a Rib out of Place Cause Back Pain?

Can a rib out of place cause back pain? Listen to Vienna Dunham Schmidt explain release of tight muscles around the ribs. Podcast show notes.

BPL11: Should I Go to the Doctor for Back Pain

Should I go to the doctor for back pain? Should we treat back pain as a medical problem, to be dealt with by medical professionals? Alternatively, should we try to tackle the problem ourselves? Avoid frustration by having a more concrete idea of what your doctor can actually do for you.

BPL21: Ortho-Bionomy with Vienna Dunham Schmidt

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BPL15: Creep and Back Pain

Creep and back pain with Dr. Jeremy James. Sitting still for 20 minutes or longer puts your back at risk. Find out how to avoid creep. Podcast show notes.

Intentional Living

How to live a more intentional life to break the cycle of chronic pain | Healing power of dogs | Relax tight back muscles audio download | Podcast BPL31

Back Pain after a Car Accident [Podcast BPL26]

What to do about back pain after a car accident with respected therapist and author of Back Pain Free, Heather Pearson. [Podcast BPL26]

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

by | Apr 25, 2019

More Episodes

of the

Back Pain Liberation

Podcast

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

Learn a simple way to relax your tight back muscles. Find out the 8 steps to the ‘Relaxation Response’ in the blog post or accompanying podcast episode.

BPL11: Should I Go to the Doctor for Back Pain

Should I go to the doctor for back pain? Should we treat back pain as a medical problem, to be dealt with by medical professionals? Alternatively, should we try to tackle the problem ourselves? Avoid frustration by having a more concrete idea of what your doctor can actually do for you.

BPL7: How Cathryn Jakobson Ramin Trains to Beat Back Pain

Cathryn Jakobson Ramin talks about core training myths and mistakes to avoid. Find out her approach to training a strong, functional core and beating back pain. Podcast links and show notes.

Healing Visualization [2 Easy Wins for your Inner Game]

Discover 2 visual hacks to motivate and inspire you in your journey out of chronic pain. With Heather Pearson, creator of the Pearson method

Back Pain after a Car Accident [Podcast BPL26]

What to do about back pain after a car accident with respected therapist and author of Back Pain Free, Heather Pearson. [Podcast BPL26]

BPL:10 Listen to Your Body with Suzanne Wylde

Listen to your body. Keep an open mind and try things. Whatever works for you has got to be good. So says the founder of Moving Stretch, Suzanne Wylde in episode 10 of the Back Pain Liberation podcast. Find podcast links and show notes here.

Back Pain from Driving

Back pain from driving with Abby Beauchamp author of Reverse Button. Download free guide: How to Avoid Back Pain from Driving | Podcast BPL30

BPL16: Back Pain Trigger Points

Find out about back pain trigger points with Dr. Jeremy James. Win a copy of The Younger Next Year Back Book. Podcast show notes.

BPL3: Myofascial Release Exercises with Chris Kidawski

Find out how to end back pain forever, second half of the podcast interview with Chris Kidawski. In his new book he explains his myofascial release process.

Active Release Technique [ART]

Active Release Technique [ART] Tight hip flexor release for lower back pain. Root cause of piriformis syndrome. BPL28 with Heather Pearson

BPL1: Pilates for Back Pain with Gillian Greenwood

Find out about the benefits of Pilates for back pain in this podcast episode with Gillian Greenwood. Gillian has been teaching Pilates for 17 years

BPL21: Ortho-Bionomy with Vienna Dunham Schmidt

Ortho-Bionomy explained by Vienna Dunham Schmidt•Tight Muscles and Chronic Pain•Ortho-Bionomy Therapy•Stress Mindfulness and Breathing•Podcast show notes

BPL22: Can a Rib out of Place Cause Back Pain?

Can a rib out of place cause back pain? Listen to Vienna Dunham Schmidt explain release of tight muscles around the ribs. Podcast show notes.

BPL2: End Back Pain Forever with Chris Kidawski

Find out how to end back pain forever in this podcast interview with Chris Kidawski. In his new book he explains his myofascial release process.

BPL20: When “Correcting” Posture Causes Pain

When “correcting” posture causes pain with Dr. Sebastian Gonzales. Win an audiobook copy of ‘I Will Beat Back Pain’. Podcast show notes.

Intentional Living

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Moving Stretch creator Suzanne Wylde on back pain self care and stretching for less flexible people, A must-listen if you have an inflexible back. Can emotional stress cause back pain?

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BPL19: MRI for Back Pain

MRI for Back Pain. Dr. Sebastian Gonzales explains the merits and limitations of MRI scans for back pain diagnosis. Podcast show notes.

BPL17: What Does a Chiropractor Do?

What does a chiropractor do? Find out what a chiropractor can do for your back pain. Overcoming anxiety to beat back pain. Podcast show notes.

BPL15: Creep and Back Pain

Creep and back pain with Dr. Jeremy James. Sitting still for 20 minutes or longer puts your back at risk. Find out how to avoid creep. Podcast show notes.

Anxiety and Back Pain [Book Giveaway]

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BPL12: Live Pain-Free with Lee Albert

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BPL13: Upper and Lower Cross Syndrome Explained with James Tang

Upper and lower cross syndrome – the two basic postural dysfunctions according to James Tang. Find out how to deal with recurring back pain. Podcast episode show notes.

BPL14: How to Fix a Thrown out Back with Dr Jeremy James

How to Fix a Thrown out Back. Dr Jeremy James says it’s better to get moving straight away. Hear how to fix your thrown out back faster! Podcast show notes.

BPL23: Back Pain and Horse Riding

BPL23: Back pain and horse riding. Listen to Dr. Jim Warson, author of The Rider’s Pain-Free Back on back strengthening exercises, the right horse + tack.

BPL4: Sacroiliac Joint Release with Karen Gabler

According to Karen Gabler, most back pain is from a misaligned or stuck sacroiliac joint at the base of the spine. Find out about sacroiliac joint release.

BPL5: Back Pain from Sitting Too Much

Back pain from sitting too much. Listen to Karen Gabler on the iliopsoas,movement, core training, posture habits and the mind body connection

BPL18: Lower Back Pain after Deadlifting

How to avoid lower back pain after deadlifting with Dr Sebastian Gonzales•Morning Back Pain•Tight Lower Back Muscles•Movement Is Medicine•Podcast show notes

BPL6: Outwitting the Crooked Back Pain Industry

Find out how to outwit the crooked back pain industry and take control of your own well-being with Cathryn Jakobson Ramin.

So you have 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’ 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.

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.

This is an update of a post which was first published November 2016. It is now also available in audio format on the Back Pain Liberation Podcast – episode number 24.

 

Click the play button to listen to this episode now

 

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

 

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.

 

Welcome! You are visitor number

[php_everywhere]

to this post, sourced from

How to Relax Tight Back Muscles

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 methods are known for promoting relaxation and helping back problems.

 

Back pain at a young age

In good shape but suffering back pain? You’re not the only one. Learn how others beat the problem in these success stories.

The Relaxation Response 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.

 

  1. Lie down as comfortably as you can
  2. Close the eyes
  3. Breathe deeply and slowly all the way down to the abdomen
  4. Let the abdomen completely relax, feel it expand as you breathe in, contract as you breathe out
  5. Make each out-breath slightly longer than the in-breath
  6. As much as you can, try to relax and let go of any tension in the body
  7. Empty the mind – feel don’t think
  8. 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:

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

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