How a tight back impacts on good form

Sep 23, 2020

A tight back is a common cause of poor form amongst athletes. So what causes this problem and how can Pilates fix it?

One of the most common problem areas for athletes is a tight sore back.

Sometimes it is a constant pain, sometimes it occurs during training and sometimes the tightness occurs post training or playing.

This pain and tightness can prevent you from delivering your best performance and can even lead to an athlete having to stop their training or competing altogether. 

The other impact can be seen in sports that require rotation of the torso – sports like hockey, golf , tennis or kayaking. A tight back will limit the amount of rotation that can be achieved, which will in turn reduce the amount of power that can be produced .

So what are the common causes of a tight low back? Three main areas that can lead to a tight low back are:

A weak core – the core abdominals are like a big girdle that wrap around the torso and support the spine. If they are weak, then your back is not supported. Try this:

  • Bend forward at the waist and let your stomach hang out. See how this feels on your back... note the pressure in the lower back!
  • Now, let's engage your core. Stand tall, pull your belly in (think belly button to spine), like a girdle.
  • Keeping your belly in, lean forward again... note how your back is supported!

Muscle imbalances – when this occurs, strain is placed on the joint. One of the most common imbalances is tight hip flexors. Hip flexors actually attach onto your lumbar spine (arch of your lower back). If they are too tight, they pull on the lower back and cause back pain.

Poor form – if you move poorly, you will develop muscle imbalances that will cause pain and tightness if your back and other areas. This must be fixed before we can start to move freely and perform at our best!

So, in order to develop and maintain a back that does not feel stiff and sore you need a strong core, balanced muscles and good form. In order to loosen your back you need to look at all of the ranges of motion a back can move in. It can flex (bend forward), extend (arch), side bend and rotate. So, in order to loosen and develop balanced muscles in the back we need to move it through all of these ranges of motion.

Try this quick workout to loosen your back (refer to video at top of blog):

  • Before you start, do a sit and reach test. Sit with your legs straight out in front of you and see how far you can reach. Remember this!
  • Complete the workout in the video above.
  • Now, do another sit and reach test – I'm betting you can reach further! Post this on insta with #BeYourBest and the amount you improved. We'd love to hear from you!


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