My lower back hurts every morning. Why does the pain return? How can I stop it?
8 Misunderstandings you must correct to stop the pain in the morning
By Sherwin Nicholson | Updated May 1, 2020
If you’ve been struggling with countless times of waking up with a very sore back, you are not alone.
Have you reached the point where rest and medication are no longer a suitable option? Even though it seems like you are feeling better, the very next time you awaken becomes yet another ordeal.
I have found that there are a lot of mistakes (or misunderstandings) that we all (accidentally) make to cause this. At least 8 of them so far! But the best way to overcome the morning struggle is to tackle them one at a time.
Here are the 8 biggest misunderstandings you should correct:
1: You believe your pain is just in the morning
It sounds strange, but what you have is actually present for the entire day. It is just more obvious and intense in the when you wake up. The symptoms you have don’t only come and go throughout the day. Unrepaired injury, wear and inflammation which are constant, cannot appear and heal within such a short period.
What does happens throughout your day is the frequency of injury that you are knowingly and unknowingly inflicting on an already injured part of your back.
Endorphins, your body’s own natural painkillers, are released along with chronic muscle fatigue to create the sensation of numbness in your lumbar area. This is what gives you the mistaken sense that your discomfort has disappeared.
You then feel that your symptoms have gone and that you’re OK. But overnight, the same endorphins and any painkillers you may have taken, wear off, leaving you to feel the underlying soreness as before.
To add to this, when you are active and you don’t feel sore, your activity (which you need to an extent) helps to keep you flexible and less tight in your back. That’s great, so the added benefit is the increase in blood flow to reduce the swelling of your inflamed joints. But, as soon as you rest or sleep, that swelling returns to plague you and hurts again.
Inflammation does not go away quickly. Especially if there is any tissue or bone related injury. It is there even when you begin to feel better. Your endorphins and temporary flexibility from moving around help to reduce it. But since there is ongoing injury, the inflammation is what is needed to heal, but also induce swelling. And the side effect of swelling is the chronic discomfort you are feeling.
Inflammation is a benefit only when it’s controlled naturally. It’s your body’s chief repair method and is necessary. Too little (from excess anti-inflammatory medications) and there is insufficient repair. Too much (strain and injury) and there will be no repair and persistent damage.
2: Your back is fine during the day
There are more issues than merely what happens in the morning. Which time of the day do you measure the quality of you day? Based on how much it hurts? Is it also the afternoon or evening? Is it even during the night?
The answer should be all of them.
If you believe that you are fine for most of the day and you don’t put enough concern about the times when it does hurt, then you still are not seeing the bigger picture.
This comes from misunderstanding #1. What happens in the night or morning is affected by your day. It’s usually all of the ‘busyness’ of your day that is causing you to hurt in the night.
3: It is normal, comes with age and is manageable
Not everyone regardless of age wakes up with this particular issue. Age is a factor but is only one of many. Lifestyle, diet, activity, genes, disease, injury and others come in to play. Although almost everyone suffers from occasional pain, but not everyone has the chronic form.
This is a very specific injury. Those without it don’t always know why their own back is less affected as compared to yours. There may be some fundamental differences between what your spine needs at this time and what theirs does.
4: Rest and occasional exercise is enough
This is a temporary measure and does not help the actual cause of why you have pain. If you rest too much rest and practice improper exercise you’ll just bring more injury to your spine.
This misunderstanding allows us to believe that you are already following a routine that is sufficient for protecting you. If only temporary measures are followed, then days which hurt less gradually become days with more uncomfortable symptoms.
Eventually, it becomes too recurrent and on a daily basis. If it continues to hurt in the morning, a different plan of action should be considered.
5: It must be from my bed, room temperature, humidity, sleep position, the pillow, etc.
I’m sure that these environmental factors do have a significant effect on the quality of your sleep and comfort. It is important that you set them as comfortably as you can to be ideal for treating and managing your pain.
These factors however only help to reduce or manage anything that is skeletal or muscular in nature. When you correct these environmental factors, your discomfort becomes more evident, requiring more extensive treatment.
6: Ice, heat and medication are enough
‘I Usually Recover Well with this Method’
This method is effective for the immediate treatment of an injury. It does not treat the causes. It merely returns you to a less severe state just before your episode. Causes are less obvious and more complicated to treat.
This method will not prevent it from happening again as it only treats injury and soreness. These are warning signs and not causes. Warning signs give us the opportunity to learn and investigate more into what may be the actual cause. This allows us the opportunity to seek proper treatment necessary for long-term recovery.
7: Exercise may worsen it
Incorrectly performed exercise or exercises that are not designed specifically to target and treat your lower back increase your chances of you hurting again. Following a specific program of exercise is important. It should be performed at a careful and controlled pace. One that you can control yourself.
Since you are the best judge at monitoring your own level of comfort, it is recommended that you follow a plan which accommodates for this.
8: I didn’t need exercise before and I don’t now
The problems with your symptoms are not obvious until long after some injury has occurred to you. There is a good chance that earlier warning signs such as sudden spasm, stiffness, soreness, tightness and aches are sometimes seen as unrelated or to be treated simply with rest or medication.
But when you are not able to care for yourself because of these warning signs, they may progress into the morning. Sudden and gradual changes to your level of activity or lifestyle do have an impact on any changes to the overall health of your back.
Don’t regard exercise as something new to add to your recovery. Rather, it should be seen as what your body naturally requires to maintain optimal health and protection of your spine. The type of exercises for your relief that are beneficial are actually composed of movements and stretches to improve your mobility and eliminate weaknesses.
The Dangers of the Cycle of Morning Back Problems
As you go to bed, the following extensive chain of events occurs:
- Natural endorphins or medications metabolize and the inflammatory symptoms reappear
- Loose and warm muscles begin to cool down, reducing circulation
- Muscles that were mobile throughout the day stop moving, reducing flexibility and circulation
- Mobile and free joints come to rest, allowing the muscles to tighten and the joint space to swell
- Looser muscles once in motion, stop, leading to muscle tightness and stiffness
- Muscles which are already tight, become tighter due to all of the above factors
- Reduced joint space from tightening leads to impingement of nerves and discs
- Over tightened muscles cause antagonistic muscles to lose activity
- The lumbar spine becomes arched, irritated and inflamed from these imbalances
- Imbalanced muscles along with tighter joint spaces, contribute pressure on bulging discs
- Increased disc pressure impinge on nerve roots affecting downstream sensitivity and motor function
- Inflammatory pain contributes to generalized anxiety and interrupted sleep
- Your sensitivity discomfort becomes heightened, increasing your need for medication
What once was believed to be appreciated as a restful period, actually becomes an ordeal of severe discomfort.
Stop the Cycle by Correcting the Imbalances Yourself
The solution goes well beyond finding the right mattress or sleeping position. When it hurt too often, it is far more serious an issue than these fixes can provide.
The Solution is in Correcting the Muscle Imbalances
Many people immediately react in disbelief because they believe that they have tried this method without success. However, due to the complexity and layers of imbalances, it is not possible to correct them as easily as one would want. Quick fixes do not work. You cannot fix this problem with a few quick stretches or movements and break the cycle. This approach has failed too many people.
It is very hard to accept, but many specific movements and stretches are needed to return this balance. They must be performed in a specific order, number of repetitions and length of time in order to be successful. This is about reconditioning the muscle and joint to it proper state and alignment.
Specific known culprits include the iliopsoas, iliacus, abdominals, rectus femoris, quadriceps, hamstrings, deep intrinsic muscles supporting the spine and more. They all must operate in a specific fashion and sequence to protect the spine and themselves from injury and harm. It is from the lack of adequate conditioning and use of these muscles. Any imbalances from these muscles lead to disc bulge, nerve impingement, back spasms, guarding, muscle strain, muscle fatigue, excessive pelvic tilt, hip & knee pain and more.
The best approach is to first perform some of the simple exercises for relief available on this site. They represent only a small sample of a larger sequence of movements and stretches that are necessary to help you. Using them as needed or randomly is not sufficient (not for a quick fix). Perform them slowly to feel the slight changes that they are intended to create (Do not rush through them to force a change).
When you become familiar and comfortable with them, it is necessary to complete the full range/course of exercises through downloading the instructional guide. This is key to achieving lasting results. It is well worth the time and effort. It addresses ALL of these muscle groups and significantly helps to relieve and correct this discomfort. The sequence of techniques taught in the guide are a fundamental part of maintaining a healthy back.
If you would like read more, please see Morning Back Pain Tips
If you are frustrated, then Order and Download the Instructional eBook.
It targets these very areas and goes to the SOURCE, NOT the symptoms.
“On day one of your plan, I did the first half of stage 1 and my lumbar spine became unlocked for the first time I can remember. For a few hours, I knew what it was like to be pain free. “
“I am able to sit for longer periods of time without pain in my back and shoulders. When it does start to hurt, I can now do the proper stretches to ease the pain quickly. I can also release the tension in my body enough to get a restful sleep.”