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What Are the Causes of Sore Back Muscles?

What Are the Causes of Sore Back Muscles?
A close up of a man working in a warehouse lifing a box perhaps incorrectly. Photo Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

Harvard Medical School reports that nearly 70 to 80 percent of Americans have experienced serious back pain. Uncovering the cause of the muscle soreness is key to determining the proper treatment to promote healing the muscle and easing pain. Soreness in the back muscles can have many causes.

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Overuse or Improper Use

Overuse and improper use of back muscles can cause soreness and pain. Ohio State Medical Center explains that activities such as repetitive movements, heavy lifting and enduring vibrations for long periods of time can cause pain. Learning how to use muscles properly and giving them appropriate rest can help prevent the related soreness. Lifting heavy objects by bending the knees and using large muscles of the legs can help prevent sore back muscles.


Muscle strain is another name for a pulled muscle. According to, muscle strains are the most frequent cause of back soreness. Strains occur when a muscle has been stretched beyond its capability or becomes torn. Inflammation occurs in the strained muscle, resulting in mild to severe pain depending on the severity of the strain. Strains may be treated using anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and applying ice to the affected muscle several times a day.


Cedars-Sinai Medical Center explains that a muscle spasm occurs when a muscle contracts abnormally and spontaneously. If a muscle becomes injured due to a sudden twisting motion, pushing or pulling, a muscle spasm can occur. Athletes and weight lifters are particularly prone to back spasms. Damage to back muscles from a strain can also cause spasms, increasing the pain. Individuals with an abnormally tilted pelvis and those with a weakened back are at an increased risk of developing muscle spasms in the back. Treatment of back spasms involves muscle relaxants and possible injections into the muscle for pain relief and chiropractic care, as noted by Cedars-Sinai.

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