Why is My Back so Stiff & Tight?

Why is My Back so Stiff & Tight?

What is back stiffness? If you don’t suffer from a tight spine, then I’m sure you’ve heard someone complaining about how “stiff and tight” their back feels.

Most people don’t really think about their spines, until there is a problem with it. Keeping your back fit, flexible and healthy requires a regular fitness routine that can incorporate very specific movements and exercises that focus on just that!

Traditional strength training programs tend to focus on other parts of the body…legs, hips, arms, chest etc., and don’t address the four reasons below that can cause the spine to get stiff and tight.

Spine strength is at the core of the pilates method of exercise and is the biggest difference between traditional strength and pilates strength.

So how does pilates develop long, strong, and flexible spines? Check out the top four reasons why your back gets stiff and tight and how pilates helps with all of them.



The word posture relates to the position that your body is in at any given time. You can’t consciously control your posture, and it’s very hard to know whether your posture is keeping your spine long and strong or doing the opposite and contributing to tightness and stiffness, unless a well meaning friend or family member tells you to stand up straight and pull your shoulders back!

Great, functional posture is all about balance.

Pilates is the only exercise method to train your deep postural muscles, the ones that keep your spine upright and in alignment. When these muscles are weak and/or tight, they either pull and compress the spine or don’t do anything and let your spine collapse and compress.

Either way, the result is a compressed “squashed” spine, which most people would describe as stiffness and/or tightness.  


Most people think of core strength as abdominal strength, and your abdominal muscles are certainly part of core strength. Core strength involves all the muscles of the trunk and torso, including your breathing and spine muscles.

Great, functional core strength is all about co-ordination.

Pilates develops all the muscles of the trunk and torso with equal importance and teaches all the muscles to work with each other and not in isolation.

There’s not point in having strong abs if your hip or spine muscles are weak. In fact, this can lead to postural imbalances. And we already know that postural imbalances can contribute to a stiff, tight spine.


What is spine mobility? There are 33 bones that make up the spine and they all have unique ways of moving. Some bend forward more than others, some bend backwards more. Others rotate a lot and others not so much.

Great, functional spine mobility is all about articulation.

What is spine articulation? It is having the ability to move every bone in your spine individually and in sequence!!

If you can not do this, then there will be joints in your spine that never get an opportunity to move. Instead, the spine moves in “blocks” and you end up “hinging” instead of rolling in sequence.

This leads to postural imbalances, stiffness and tightness, but can also contribute to injury with one part of your spine having too much stress or pressure on it consistently.

Pilates specialises in exercises that develop spine articulation.


If you have a stiff and tight spine, developing this spine mobility takes time, and patience with many factors playing a part in how quickly you get results.  



This is something most people will relate to. You only need to look at the amount of allied health professionals that people attend for “muscle release”.  

If you have tight and tense muscles, it doesn’t feel good and can contribute to daily aches and pains and create postural imbalances.

One of the biggest myths around is that by getting your muscles released or even just stretching, you will get rid of spine tightness and stiffness.

Unless you are actively working on your POSTURE, CORE STRENGTH AND SPINE MOBILITY, the tight muscles might get released for a short time but return because the underlying issues that cause the muscle tightness haven’t been addressed.

Many tight muscles are just over working muscles that have been “compensating” for the lack of functional posture and core strength.

Pilates develops all muscles in your body equally with each muscle sharing the workload of keeping your body upright and moving.

If you suffer from a tight, stiff spine book a free consultation and postural assessment today and learn how Pilates can help you get rid of those daily aches and pains and have a healthy and fit back!

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