How to Relieve Morning Stiffness in the Muscles And Joints

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What Is Morning Stiffness?

Stiff muscles and joints and neck and back pain are all symptoms that a large number of us experience first thing in the morning!

Morning stiffness and pain affects thousands of people. Although there are specific conditions that cause this, often it's self-inflicted.

So What Causes Morning Stiffness?

People who suffer from conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia and rheumatic disorders do have a high rate of morning stiffness and associated pain. However, for the rest of us, non-medical reasons are usually behind the majority of our problems.

Let's take a look at the main causes first since they may give clues as to why people with certain medical conditions can also be affected.

The main symptoms are:

  • Pain and stiffness in one or more joints — especially the hips and knees
  • Pain and stiffness in one or more muscles
  • Lower back pain and stiffness
  • Neck stiffness and pain

Source
Poor posture in the home, sleeping or while working can lead to morning stiffness and pain.
Poor posture in the home, sleeping or while working can lead to morning stiffness and pain. | Source

Medical and Other Causes of Morning Stiffness and Pain

As previously mentioned there are various things that can lead to morning stiffness and pain. These are divided into two groups - medical causes and other types of causes. We'll look at the medical causes first.

Medical Causes:

  • Fibromyalgia — Has various signs and symptoms such as pain in the muscles along with tender joints. People who have this condition often experience morning stiffness. This may have to do with tension in the muscles before going to bed.
  • OsteoarthritisAs with fibromyalgia, people with arthritis can also experience morning stiffness. Normally with osteoarthritis, the stiffness and pain tends to wear off within half an hour, but not always.
  • Rheumatoid arthritisAs with the conditions above, rheumatoid arthritis can lead to morning stiffness and pain. The pain and stiffness doesn't wear off quickly, if at all.

Not everyone who suffers morning stiffness and pain suffers from the above conditions. If this is the case then we need to look at other factors such as:

  • Lack of exerciseThis leads to stiffening of muscles and joints before going to bed. This can cause the muscles or joints to lock while sleeping, especially if your bed or mattress does not give you proper healthy support.
  • Poor posturePoor posture in the way you sit, the work that you do or the activities you enjoy, can lead to muscle tension, injury and pain. Furthermore, the effect on the spine, neck, shoulders and other joints is cumulative. This means that the wear and tear gradually builds up over a time. Eventually, this can mean having problems when lying in bed and getting up in the morning. In addition, having poor posture while you sleep - perhaps due to an old mattress - can lock joints and muscles into harmful positions leading to morning stiffness, as well as cumulative injury.
  • Bed mattress not supportiveA mattress that is worn out or of poor quality will not only cause morning stiffness and pain, but also leads to lack of quality sleep. As mentioned previously, poor support while sleeping can lead to cumulative injuries. You can also have a buildup of lactic acid in the muscles when you constantly have poor posture while sleeping. The lactic acid adds to the risk of stiff muscles.
  • OverweightBeing overweight adds pressure to your joints and muscles even when you're asleep. Not only does this restrict blood flow but it can also lead to stiffness and pain.
  • Poor dietThis can lead to all kinds of problems especially if the diet is lacking in vitamins and minerals and all the other essential nutrients. Lethargy is one result, leading to poor posture, tired muscles and aching joints. The muscles and joints then tend to stiffen up overnight.
  • Sleep ProblemsHaving difficulty sleeping leads to tension and lethargy during the day. This can then be made worse by muscles and joints tightening up overnight.
  • Environment too damp or coldDampness and cold leads to stiffening of the muscles and joints, usually due to the posture adopted to keep warm in bed e.g. curled up tightly.

Now that we've looked at the causes and symptoms of morning stiffness, how can we help relieve them? Let's have a look at some useful tips.

Tips on How to Relieve or Reduce Morning Stiffness and Pain

There are a number of activities we can do to relieve or even prevent morning stiffness and pain.

Tips for Morning Stiffness and Pain:

  • Whenever possible, ensure that you get the best sleep possible. The more refreshing the sleep, the less fatigued and rigid the muscles and joints are during the day. People who are habitually tired go to bed tense and wake up with morning stiffness and pain. Also, quality sleep also helps repair any minor damage done to the body due to stress or tension.
  • Ensure that your mattress properly supports you. The average person spends 1/3 of their lifetime in bed. That's a lot of time for your body to be under pressure by a worn out or poorly designed mattress. It's hard to underestimate the effect that a poor mattress can have on your health. Making an investment in a mattress that gives you good support and increases the chance of quality sleep is worth it. As a rule of thumb, go for a medium support mattress. Though many people believe firmer mattresses are more supportive, that's not actually the case. A firm mattress only supports the heaviest areas of the body. A mattress that is too firm can also add pressure, not support, to certain areas. If your mattress is too soft, there's no support at all.
  • One of the best ways to start relieving pain and stiffness is to do some simple, easy exercises in bed before getting up. You can start with overall stretching exercises or concentrate on exercises specifically for the area you have problems with—hips, knees, neck, shoulders, etc. The exercises release stiffness from the muscles and joints while increasing circulation to these areas, further relieving discomfort.
  • If you still feel you could benefit from some more relaxation, then have a warm or hot shower to relax you. Afterwards, you can add some more stretching exercises to loosen up fully. If you suffer from arthritis, fibromyalgia, or similar, then there are specific exercises online for these conditions. However, speak to your doctor before attempting any exercises for the first time.
  • Ensure that you eat as healthy a diet as possible. In addition, check the cleanliness of the tap water in your area. Some toxins in the water—especially if you live in inner-city areas—can have some chemicals that build up in the human body leading to toxicity. This can make muscle stiffness and pain more problematic.
  • Having some form of regular exercise will also help relieve morning stiffness and pain by strengthening the muscles and joints and increasing the circulation to these areas.
  • If stress and tension is a regular experience for you, then consider starting some relaxation techniques, especially before going to bed.

I hope some of the information and tips here will be of benefit to you. However, as always, if you have any concerns or if morning stiffness and pain is a new thing for you, then you should speak to your doctor who will be able to give more in-depth advice and assistance.

© 2013 Helen Murphy Howell

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Comments 30 comments

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

I think your tips can easily benefit a lot of folks. Simple, stretching exercises before getting out of bed sound like a great idea. We don't usually think of exercise before getting up.

Voted up and useful.


KT Banks profile image

KT Banks 3 years ago from Texas

Thanks for sharing this information. Great hub!


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 3 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

Thank you Helen for a very useful and informative article. I now and then wake with a stiff back, the tips you give and exercises you show are very helpful and I will certainly be trying these.

Indeed the mattress makes a big difference, my previous mattress was a hard one supposedly to give support, however I woke every morning with aches and pains.

Thank you and voting up & UAI


catgypsy profile image

catgypsy 3 years ago from the South

Great information. I am going to try some of these exercise. I tend to be very achy and stiff in the mornings, so I'm sure they will help. Thanks for such a helpful hub.


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 3 years ago from Massachusetts

All great and useful information within this well written hub to help anyone relieve morning stiffness of muscles and joints . Well done !

Vote up and more !!!


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Another worthy and informative hub. This from the poor sufferer who on occasion especially in the winter will wake up with a stiff and crooked neck and no way to move it. Hate that. Passing this on.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi tillsontitan, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub. Here's hoping that the hub can be of benefit to a lot of folks! I used to do some gentle stretching before getting up when I was bothered with sciatica and this did help a great deal!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi KT Banks, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Rosemay, lovely to hear from you and glad that you enjoyed the hub!

That's interesting about your mattress. My sister was advised - she has arthritis in her knee - to get a firm support mattress and boy she was in agony. Then a physiotherapist told her that a medium support would be best, so she bought this and what a difference it made to her. When she had the firm support, it wasn't just her knees and hips that were sore, but her back and shoulders as well. Of course, on thinking about it, the firm support mattress was more expensive so I guess the place where she bought this was out to make money rather than advising properly!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi catgypsy, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub. Hope the exercises do help a bit, there's nothing worse than morning stiffness!!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Tom, many thanks as always for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub! Thank you for the great comment!!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Rasma lovely to hear from you!!

OUCH!!! A stiff neck - yikes!! I had that once many years ago and I'm sure it was due to this poxy, cold and drafty flat we stayed in. My neck was stiff for days and stuck to one side it was awful!!!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

I have noticed this as I get up there in age and do most of the tips you have posted here. They really do make a difference. I think most of mine is related to the weather tempature changes. Thanks for the advice. Voted up.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

hi teaches12345, lovely to hear from you and glad that you enjoyed the hub! That's interesting about the temperature changes, my sister swears that her joint stiffness does come and go depending on whether it gets colder or warmer, she also finds it more difficult with damp weather.


Hariom Singhal profile image

Hariom Singhal 3 years ago from INDIA (Haryana) SAMPLA

A homeopathic remedies Arnica 6,30 will help .Take1or 2 drops in your mouth.Don't eat anything next 15 minute.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Hariom Singhal,

Many thanks for stopping by and for your advice of the homeopathic remedy. It's certainly yworth a try.


Hariom Singhal profile image

Hariom Singhal 3 years ago from INDIA (Haryana) SAMPLA

A very cheap and easily available everywhere home remedies will solve your problem.

Take a medium size potato.Wash it.Don't peel.Cut in small pieces. Keep in a glass of water overnight.Next morning drink water with potato or without potato.

I use it.It is very effective.I tell many. All get relief from pain.

Use it and tell the result.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Very interesting recipe and I will need to try it.


old albion profile image

old albion 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

Hi Helen I found this hub of great interest. I have a condition called 'Kennedys Disease' the proper name is Spinal Bulbar Muscular Atrophy. I find proper and gentle exercise when I am getting up is so very helpful. I need a portable ventilator to help my breathing overnight, this is due to a weak Diaphgram. ( is that spelling correct:). I am in a wheelchair through part of each day so exercise is important however it tires me out all to soon. Forgive me for mentioning all this but exercise is so important to our wellbeing.

Voted up and all.

Graham.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Graham, apologies for taking so long to get back to you - with the long weekend holiday I've had family staying so it's been a bit hectic here.

No need to apologise at all Graham, I found your answer very interesting - but deeply sad that you have this terrible condition. I also learned something new, I didn't know about this disease or that it was called 'Kennedys Disease'! The spelling is - Diaphragm - and the only reason I know is because I had to look the dam thing up! Spelling is not one of my strong points and I'm never far away from a dictionary. LOL!

So what if any is the treatment for this condition? I have to say, that when reading your articles or responses, no one would think that you are coping with such an illness. I salute you Graham, you're obviously a very brave man with plenty of grit and stamina! And yes, I can understand how the exercise would be beneficial but also how it must be very tiring as well. But as you say, this is obviously an important part of therapy and gives some benefit to you.

Many thanks again for your interesting comment and take care!


old albion profile image

old albion 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

Hi Helen. I knew that spelling was wrong, never mind. LOL. Thank you for your most thoughtful reply. There is no cure I'm afraid. We just push on as long as possible. Thanks again.

Best wishes.

Graham.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Graham - love and blessings to you my friend - you are a very unique person!


iguidenetwork profile image

iguidenetwork 3 years ago from Austin, TX

If not cramps in the morning, I sometimes suffer morning stiffness. Very useful hub, now I know on how can I prevent it. Thanks for posting! :)


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi iguidenetwork,

Many thanks for stopping by and glad that you found the hub useful! Hopefully this will help to sort out your morning stiffness.


sdavi775 profile image

sdavi775 3 years ago from United States of America

This is great info, thanks a lot!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi sdavi775, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub.


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 2 years ago from london

Well-written article with pretty useful tips and yoga exercises for morning stiffness, aches and pains.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 2 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Glad you enjoyed the hub and many thanks for the visit.


Kelsey Farrell profile image

Kelsey Farrell 19 months ago from Orange County, CA

Great hub with useful tips--I've recently begun working from home and since I don't have a desk with a chair that supports my back I've started to notice pain in my hip joints from sitting at odd angles. It feels almost like they need to pop but I can't get them to do so, hopefully your tips will help with this problem!


frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 16 months ago from Central United States of America

Useful tips and exercise points - I like the very first video exercise as I do it occasionally and didn't even know it was 'official'. On the second video, I like the forward lean on pillows - good for waking up time as it stretches my back muscles. Just need to do more of those exercises consistently, so thanks for the reminder!

Additionally as stated in above comments, I find the homeopathic remedy Arnica is quite helpful. And on the also mentioned potato water - wonder if the starch is someway helpful for cellular energy, and the presence of vitamin C also?

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