Morning stiffness is a common complaint when our bodies no longer rebound after a night’s rest. Stiff muscles and joints, neck and back pain are all symptoms that a lot of us experience first thing in the morning. Serious medical diseases should always be ruled out if you have pain that wakes you up during the night since night pain can be a ‘red flag’ when it comes to spine conditions. Also, sufferers from conditions like arthritis have a higher rate of morning stiffness and pain but for many non-medical reasons are responsible. Some of the more basic causes are lack of daily physical activity, being overweight, having poor posture, an inadequate diet, or not sleeping properly. Much of what is causing your morning stiffness can be avoided or corrected. Here are some tips for working out those morning kinks:
- Get a good night’s sleep. Ample sleep can repair and recharge. Try to sleep either on your side or back, since stomach sleeping can cause unnecessary stress on the back and spine. If you feel like someone tried to pin your arm behind your back during the night, your sleeping posture is probably to blame. A poor or bad sleeping posture that keeps you in a bad position leads to decreased blood flow to the local muscles, accumulation of lactic acid and results in stiffness in the body on waking up.
- Stretch in bed. It is good to get in the habit of taking a few minutes to perform some easy stretches while lying, and then sitting up in the bed, bending to the sides and front to loosen muscles. The heart rate is slowest just before rising, so when you stretch, your blood starts moving faster and circulating to the muscles in the extremities. Proper circulation helps you move and function throughout the day. To get the most out of your stretches, hold each stretch for 30 seconds to give your muscles time to lengthen, then relax and breathe normally.
- Hit the shower. A hot shower is one of the best ways to help relieve morning stiffness. Heat causes the blood to move to the surface of the skin, flushing and warming your joints and releasing muscle spasms along the way. if you have a handheld shower-head, direct the spray to massage stiff, sore joints. Stay in long enough to get nice and warm.
- Try an after shower warm-up exercise. Do some gentle knee bends, holding on to something for balance if you need to. These movements exercise almost 90 percent of the skeletal muscles. Squat as low as you can while exhaling and then inhale as you stand up. About 10 of them in the morning will relieve the joints and muscles.
- Make sure you are well-hydrated. This might seem obvious but soft tissues need water to remain as pliable as possible. Diminished flexibility and discomfort result when joints aren’t properly lubricated. Drinking water can reduce pain in your joints by keeping the cartilage soft and hydrated. The goal is to drink half your body-weight in ounces of water each day.
- Fight inflammation and stress. Lose weight if you are overweight. Extra pounds puts extra stress on the joints and increases the level of inflammation in the body. Fitness is undoubtedly critical but it is equally important to eat an ‘anti-inflammatory’ diet which includes healthy fats, colorful veggies and antioxidants. Also be aware that stress and anxiety can cause significant muscle tension, which leads to stiffness and joint pain. Joint pain is a complex anxiety symptom, and one that may be as much mental as it is physical. But the pain is very real, and in many cases it is a type of pain that is hard to control and harder to overcome.
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Most of that dreaded morning stiffness can be avoided. It’s worth the effort to make some minor lifestyle changes and employ a few simple techniques to start your day off with more energy and less discomfort.