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How Can Stiff And Tight Muscles Result In Back Pain?

If you have ever wondered how can stiff and tight muscles can result in back pain, you've come to the right place.  Stiff and tight muscles can often be mistaken for spinal problems when in reality the solution could be much simpler. In this article, I will be sharing several common causes of potential stiff and tight lower back muscle pain and how to effectively get rid of it for good.  

How can stiff and tight muscles result in back pain? 


How Can Stiff And Tight Muscles Result In Back Pain?

Asking how can stiff and tight muscles can result in back pain most likely comes from a place of discomfort or even unbearable pain.  Back pain comes in many different feelings from a handful of different injuries. Below are several common contributors to back pain that can be fixed in your own home without the help of a trained professional.


Common Contributors to Back Pain:

Hamstring Tightness:

  • Tight hamstrings can cause the pelvis to shift, putting additional strain on the lower back.
  • Poor posture, a sedentary lifestyle, and not enough stretching are all factors that contribute to tight hamstrings.
  • Increase range of motion through stretching exercises such as toe touches and seated hamstring stretches.

Weak Core Muscles:

  • Weak abdominal muscles cause instability and discomfort in the lower back. The weaker the core muscles, the more the lower back and spine have to overcompensate to stay upright.
  • Core muscles such as the internal obliques and psoas play a critical role in keeping a sturdy and pain-free midsection.

Bad Posture:

  • Long periods of bad posture, such as slouching or hunching over, may strain your back and contribute to pain.
  • Being conscious of posture throughout the day can considerably lower your risk of back pain. Whether it be sitting upright at your desk or pulling your shoulders back when walking, making an honest effort to fix your posture can prevent a lot of unnecessary pain.

Muscle Imbalances:

  • Cases where certain muscles (especially in the hips and midsection) become stronger or tighter than others. This can cause uneven tension on the spine resulting in back pain.
  • Correction: Regular strength and flexibility workouts targeting specific muscle groups can help correct and boost healthy movement.

Inactivity and Sedentary Lifestyle:

  • Lack of physical activity may lead to muscle stiffness and weaken lower back supporting muscles.
  • Encourage movement: Increased exercise and taking breaks from sitting for extended periods can increase flexibility, reduce tightness, and prevent the build-up of future pain and tension.


How MY Stiff And Tight Muscles Resulted In Back Pain:

Another common way how stiff and tight muscles result in back pain is through the glutes and surrounding hip muscles. Glute muscles are responsible for internal and external rotation of our legs which plays a big role in supporting our lower backs. Tight glutes can be caused by prolonged sitting, lack of stretching and muscular imbalances which can all contribute to back pain.

Gluteus medius muscle

My situation involved the gluteus medius muscle, located on the outer side of the hip above the gluteus minimus below the iliac crest - see image. As a muscle that is responsible for lateral movement, I began to notice weakness and pain when my gluteus medius became tight. The difficult part about the pain was that it resided almost strictly in my lower back. I didn't know exactly how to handle the pain so I did what most people do and stretched my lower back out to try and achieve pain relief. This offered some temporary relief but did not fix the core issue.

It wasn't until I attacked my glutes with deep tissue massage that I found relief. The massage itself felt a little foreign to me and borderline painful, but the tension I released made me feel like a whole new person. Between the deep tissue massage combined with a few targeted stretches, I found and attacked the problem within 15 minutes. I couldn't believe it! I was ready to go to the doctor's office, I had thought the pain I was experiencing was so much more severe than just tight glutes. I learned how lower back and glute muscles are closely interlinked in many ways and understanding how they affect each other can give a whole different perspective to diagnosing back pain.


How Can A Stiff And Tight QL Muscle Result In Back Pain?

One of the most common muscles in understanding how can stiff and tight muscles result in back pain can relate back to the Quadratus Lumborum muscle. The Quadratus Lumborum (QL) muscle is a large, deep, four-sided lower back muscle that frequently experiences trigger points (muscle knots) and lower back pain - see image.

How can Stiff and tight muscles result in back pain?
The Quadratus Lumborum muscle serves two primary functions: firstly, it allows for lateral flexion of the spine and elevation of the hip. The second function of the QL is the muscle's crucial role in stabilizing the spine.

Quadratus lumborum pain can be caused by injury to the muscle tissue.  Tissue injury through strain or sprain is typically most common in the lower back and can range from mild to severe pain.  Muscle tissue pain can cause feelings of stiffness, aching, and tenderness. 

Developing QL Pain:

how can stiff and tight muscles result in back pain?

Developing QL pain is typically a gradual strain on the muscle that builds up over time.  Over time the QL muscle becomes sore and tight which leads to placing more stress and relied stability on the lumbar spine.  Think of the QL muscle as a layer of protection to the spine.  Without the QL muscle keeping the spine stable and protected, the spine is left vulnerable to increased movement it typically isn't used to.

Tight QL muscles lead to trigger points (muscle knots) and increased pain and tightness.  See the image for a visual of where QL tightness can develop trigger points in the low back and hips region.  Learn below how to exterminate trigger points through deep tissue massage.

QL Pain Relief:

A great option for releasing built up stress and tightness in the quadratus lumborum muscle is trigger point release therapy. The easiest approach to loosen up tight muscle tissue is to use a massage device like the QL Claw. The QL Claw is intended to relieve stress in the quadratus lumbrorum through lengthening the tight muscle fibers that are causing you painCheck out our Testimonial page and hear from satisfied athletes, therapists, and trainers on how the QL Claw has helped them.


A lot of lower back pain is caused by injury to the muscle tissue. Injuries to tissues caused by strain or sprain are frequently observed in the lower back and can result in a range of pain intensity from mild to severe. Such injuries can cause muscle tissue to ache, feel stiff, and become tender. Although the injury usually begins in the lower back, the pain can extend to the buttocks and hip region. - How can stiff and tight muscles result in back pain? - QL Muscle release - Check out how to release the QL in the link below.


While the quadratus lumborum is a major contributor to how stiff and tight muscles can result in back pain, treating other common culprits such as tight glutes, hamstring tightness, weak abdominal muscles, poor posture, muscle imbalances, and inactivity may give a more comprehensive approach to preventing and easing back pain. Massaging, stretching, strengthening, and lifestyle changes can all help to make your back healthier and more resilient.


More Information:

For more help on how can stiff and tight muscles result in back pain, staying mobile through flexibility exercises will potentially help relieve any built-up pain and tightness.  Learning proper stretching techniques is key for loosening tight tissue and giving mobility back to underutilized muscles.  I was in and out of doctors, therapists, and chiropractors' offices, and this program below is what ended up relieving my muscle pain for the better.

Flexible Back 2.0 - Lower Back Flexibility Program

And If you want to build a bulletproof low back with some of the most elite lower back strengthening exercises, check out my Back of Steel program below.  Building a strong lower back will help in so many areas of your life.  Take it from me, I wasn't myself until I fixed this problem for good and this program is what helped me.

Back of Steel - Lower Back Strengthening Program


How Can Stiff And Tight Muscles Result In Back Pain? - Flexibility program


Thanks for reading how can stiff and tight muscles result in back pain! Also check out our page on the Single Best Exercise for Lower Back Pain




[1] Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.

[2] Davies, Clair, and Amber Davies. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. 3rd ed., New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2013.

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