Feeling stiff and sore when you wake up? Four tips to ease joint stiffness

When you do a heavy workout you can expect to be a bit stiff and sore the next day but what happens when you wake up every day feeling stiff and sore even when you haven’t exercised the day before?

Apart from muscle soreness caused by exercise, there are a number of reasons why people wake up stiff and sore in the morning.

  • Ageing

As we age, the cartilage that provides cushioning between our joints starts to dry out. We also produce less synovial fluid that lubricates the joint. Weak muscles and stiff tendons tend to tighten even further as we sleep. This results in various forms of arthritis that cause morning stiffness.  The most common forms of arthritis are:

  • osteoarthritis (wear and tear)
  • rheumatoid arthritis (swelling and inflammation)
  • psoriatic arthritis (inflammation linked to the psoriasis condition that causes red, patchy and scaly skin).

Stiffness can also be caused by ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory disease that can cause the bones in your spine to grow together. 

Stiffness associated with arthritis usually lasts around 15 minutes and goes away as you move and warm up joints and muscles. Stiffness from rheumatoid arthritis may last for more than an hour. Unfortunately you can’t reverse the effects of ageing but you can manage symptoms through regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight.[1] Herbal supplements such as fish oil and evening primrose oil may help to ease joint stiffness caused by arthritis but ensure to check with your doctor before trying supplements.

  • Sleep position

The wrong sleeping position can cause muscle stiffness.  Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach because this can cause stiffness in the neck and back when you wake up.

  • Weight

When our bodies carry too much weight it puts pressure on the joints, which causes muscle and joint pain. 

  • Smoking

Smoking significantly impacts the body’s oxygen intake.  Oxygen is required for good circulation, so smoking impacts circulation in the body that can also impact joint movement.

  • Stress

Stress is a major factor that causes muscle tension and sleep disturbance, which contributes to morning stiffness.

  • Illness

When you are ill, muscles and joints can become stiff and sore. Chronic illness such as thyroid disease can also cause muscle and joint stiffness.

Four tips to ease morning joint stiffness

There are four key tips to easing morning joint stiffness.

  • Keep limber

While you can’t stop the impact of ageing, you can reduce symptoms through regular gentle exercise such as walking, swimming, yoga and pilates. Keeping the joints and muscles limber helps to reduce morning stiffness. Also focus on building core strength to support your spine and reduce back stiffness.

  • Maintain a healthy weight

Maintaining the optimum weight for your height and body type reduces pressure on joints, which also reduces morning stiffness. Ensure to follow a healthy diet that consists of plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and limit sugar intake. 

  • Reduce stress

Consider the stress factors in your life and things you can do to relieve stress.  For example, deep breathing and meditation can help, as well as a warm bath with lavender oil.  

  • Invest in sleep

Invest in the right pillow and mattress that helps to support your spine and gives you a good night’s sleep.  Also try to sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees, or on your side with a pillow between your knees. It’s a good idea to develop a sleep routine to prepare your mind and relax your body for sleep.

If you are experiencing ongoing joint stiffness and soreness in the morning seek advice from your health professional.  To learn more, contact Lane Chiropractic Pottsville on 6676 2270.


[1] https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/what-makes-my-joints-stiff-in-the-morning

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