Routine causes of back pain and a simple stretch for relief

By Sherwin Nicholson | May 1, 2020

lower back pain and your muscles

Does your back feel tight and stiff right now? Is it especially sore in the morning?

With all of the different causes of back pain, most of us are struggling with at least one or more severe cases.  On top of that, what you do every day adds to the discomfort more often than it should.

Below is a list of the routine activities that are worsening your pain and putting you at greater risk.

When you are managing well enough physically and your back ‘feels’ healthy, you don’t notice any of the risks that most of your activities are having on you.

However, when you begin to experience pain, the risks from any one of your activities becomes more obvious as they each become too painful to do.

What you want to do is to be more proactive.  This is to minimize the number of unexpected bay days that you may have.

By proactively trying to predict what risks some common activities can have, we can find better ways to perform them to avoid discomfort.

Below is a list of the routine activities that are worsening your pain and putting you at greater risk.

Stressful Activities Which Involve Looking Down Immediately In Front Of You

  • Desk Work
  • Studying
  • Kitchen Chores
  • Operating Handheld Devices (texting)
  • Working in front of Counters
  • Driving
  • Most Seated Activities

Problem #1 – No motion

These activities encourage you to devote far too much time maintaining one unhealthy position.  This really is not a natural position to be forced to have.  And like most of us, we are doing MOST of them under too much tension and stress.

These activities require that the head, neck and upper back hold a fixed position.  Initially, there is no difficulty doing this, but we can’t hold it for very long from fatigue.  Instead of maintaining an upright posture, we tend to lean our heads forward, bringing tension to the neck.

Problem #2 – Harmful slouching

These activities usually involve the use of our arms and hands.   Bending at the neck and using our arms unconsciously causes you to relax your upper body.  This is because you are expending your energy on maintaining a poor neck posture while actively using the muscles in your arms.  With a relaxed upper body, your shoulders drop, and your upper back relaxes.

This may seem OK at first, but it’s your posture which is suffering.  This exhausted pose makes us to slouch when seated or standing causing muscle shortening.   This relaxed position affects the natural and correct posture of the spine.   It causes it to bend in an imbalanced way.  This strains the cervical and thoracic vertebrae and the supporting muscles leading to pain.

We are all guilty of this posture, and most of us do not realize that we have it.  This poor way of maintaining your upright posture over time becomes automatic.  Being able to maintain the correct way of holding your upper back and neck becomes tiring and difficult to hold for the amount of time that you need it to.

From upper to lower back pain

When your upper body starts to become sore, it travels down the body, affecting the natural curve of your spine. This worsens your pelvic tilt causing injury to the lumbar region. It also becomes imbalanced, causing lumbar disc and muscle pain.

Even if your upper body can endure the discomfort, the lower back will not be so forgiving. However, by correcting your overall posture with your entire spine in mind, you will also help your lower back.

Since we cannot instantly correct this posture problem, you CAN self correct some of it this way:

Perform the following stretch:

arm raise

  1. Stand or sit straight up
  2. Arch your spine slightly so as to push your chest slightly up and forward
  3. Gently flex your shoulders to your sides and in behind you
  4. Keep looking forward
  5. Tuck in your chin slightly
  6. Hold your neck as straight as possible
  7. Lean your head and neck slightly behind to above your centre of gravity
  8. Hold this position for 10-30 seconds
  9. Now relax for a few seconds
  10. Slowly raise both arms and hands above you
  11. Straighten your arms and extend them directly above
  12. Keep your hands open and hold them closely together
  13. Tilt your head backwards and look up at your hands
  14. Your hand should be directly above and in line vertically with your feet
  15. Hold this position for 10-30 seconds
  16. Bring your arms down, relax your head and neck
  17. repeat

Use these visualizing techniques to help you.

  • It should feel as though you are trying to raise an object with both hands up to the top shelf of a cabinet slowly and carefully.
  • It should feel as though you are trying to push up on an object above you that you are keeping above you.
  • It should feel as though you are holding a “superman” like pose while flying, only vertically.

The longer that you maintain this position, the more you will feel the minute and gradual adjustments in your spine and neck.  This will feel unusual at first.  As your muscles strengthen and stretch, you should be able to feel some relief from poor posture.  Your tension will reduce, and your flexibility will improve.

If you find this exercise difficult or tiring, it may be due to the stiffness, weakness and inflexibility you have developed over time.  Use this as a measure of how much your posture has changed.   This exercise helps to correct the unnatural C-curve that has developed in your body compared to the natural S-curve that your spine should have.

Perform this exercise often and every time you sit

Suggested times:

  1. Every 20-30 minutes in between the activities as mentioned above
  2. Before and after each activity
  3. At least once every morning upon waking, lunchtime, and at bedtime before lying down
  4. Anytime where you feel stiffness in your upper body
  5. Every time you have to perform any activity where you have been leaning over
  6. Just before performing any activity which will require leaning over

The more that you carry out this exercise, the less uncomfortable you will feel.  This exercise will feel easier to perform with time and practice.

To help to strengthen your upper back and add endurance,  use a light object such as a book to raise up in the air as you perform this exercise.  Gradually increase the weight and duration as much as you are comfortable with.

Each time that you do this stretch while in the middle of your routines, it becomes easier for you to remember to do it.   This helps to prevent you from forgetting to maintain the pose and will reduce or prevent you from injury.

Do You Need More Help?

Read the Back Spasm Tips

Why Following A Better Hamstring Stretch is Important

Tips to Help You Sleep Much Better

Great Exercises to Help Your Back

Other Forms of Pain


  2. Effects of stabilization exercises on health-related quality of life in women with chronic lbp.-
  3. People with chronic lbp have poorer balance than controls in challenging tasks. – da Silva RA1,2, Vieira ER3, Fernandes KB1,2, Andraus RA1,2, Oliveira MR1,2, Sturion LA1,2, Calderon MG1. Disabil Rehabil. 2017 Mar 10:1-7. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2017.1294627.