Active Life Chiropractic

37 1/2 Forrester Street

Newburyport, MA 01950 US



Why you probably have morning stiffness or, how I learned to stop thinking that a toe touch is stretching and learned to love extension. Part II

So, we left off asking, "what could I possibly be doing to damage my discs?!?”

Well, the answer to this question lies in your spinal posture -- now, I’m not your mom and, I’m not yelling at you to “pull your shoulders back!” -- but I am telling you that you can change morning stiffness (good or bad) through posture.

This postural situation could be generated from factors like a lack of soft tissue extensibility (e.g non-extensible hamstrings or hips that pull your spine into forward flexion) OR it could be due to your habits  -- while the first situation requires treatment, the latter requires education and awareness.

For instance, you may wake up first thing in the morning (discs full) and go right into a toe touch. Then, between driving and work, you proceed to sit for 8 hours, finish up with some exercise, and wind up in a relaxed slouch on your favorite sofa -- sound familiar?

Turns out, you probably did more damage than you thought. Recall from part I that strain within the disc is highest upon waking  -- now that toe touch first thing in the morning was like pressing right on that scab -- creating the most strain within the disc at it’s most vulnerable time. Then, you proceeded to sit with posture that strained the back of your disc all day long. Finally, you finished by asking that strained disc to absorb the shock of exercise and then let it recover in a straining slouch.

     Now do you get it?

Best thing to do first thing in the morning is to just wake up for the first 30 minutes and don’t do much. I’d recommend getting a back rest or sit on the edge of your chair to sit with a more extended spinal posture (see picture). Exercise is good so, continue to do that but, be careful of that couch slouch!!


Joints, soft tissues, nerves, and discs are each structures that are capable of generating back and neck pain and each require a specific treatment (if you’re just getting adjusted or “cracked” all the time then someone’s assuming that it’s always a joint problem). Disc problems really aren't as horrible as they sound and are not always due to “slipped discs” -- they're often very treatable with a good prognosis so, don’t fear.