I don't have back pain but there is a spot that is just plain stiff. Are there any exercises I can do to loosen this up?
Many people report stiffness in the low back area without pain. Sometimes it's possible to point to the exact spot that is stiff. This is called localized stiffness. In other cases, stiffness seems to be a more diffuse or regional symptom.
There are many possible reasons for this condition. In some cases, decreased motion at one or more segment may be the problem. This is referred to as spinal hypomobility. Postural and muscular changes accompany spinal hypomobility. But which came first (the decreased motion or the other changes) remains unknown.
Treatment is directed toward restoring motion of the affected joint(s). It's best to have an exam done by a Physical Therapist, chiropractor, or orthopedic surgeon. The examiner can perform special tests to assess muscle function, joint motion, and spinal mobility.
Exercises may be prescribed. In some cases, spinal mobilization or manipulation may be needed. Mobilization is a technique used to move the joint through its full range of motion. Manipulation takes the joint to its end range and applies a thrust.
You may not feel any direct effects from mobilization. Manipulation is often accompanied by a click or pop that can be felt and/or heard. Decreased pain or stiffness, increased motion, and improved function are the end results of either technique.
Alexander K. Brenner, PT, MPT, OCS, et al. Improved Activation of Lumbar Multifidus Following Spinal Manipulation: A Case Report Applying Rehabilitative Ultrasound Imaging. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. October 2007. Vol. 37. No. 10. Pp. 613-619.