Feeling achy and stiff in the morning? Try these seven techniques to ease into the day.

Nothing is more restorative than a good night’s sleep. You wake up refreshed and ready to take on a new day. Yet, for some people, the early morning hours bring unwelcome neck and back pain.

Movement during the day promotes fluid secretion from your tissues, which in turn keeps your joints mobile. When you’re asleep, however, you’re not moving for an extended period of time, which can cause your joints and muscles to stiffen up.

For some people, morning pain and stiffness go away as the day goes on. For others, the pain lasts all day. If you find yourself waking up constantly in pain, try these seven tips for a pain-free morning:

1. Stretch

When you wake up, do some simple stretches to unlock your joints and muscles. Here are two to try:

  • Knee to Chest Stretch: Remain on your back in your bed, and pull both knees toward you until your feet are flat on the bed. Grab your right knee with both hands and pull toward your chest. Do the same with the left knee. Hold for about 30 seconds. Repeat two to three times.
  • Shoulder/Upper Back Stretch: Stand up and hold your right elbow with your left hand. Stretch your right arm across the front of your body, keeping your arm straight. Do the same with your opposite arm. Hold for 30 seconds, and do two to three repetitions.

2. Change Your Mattress and Pillow

Your morning pain and stiffness could be caused by your bed or pillow. Be sure to choose a pillow that aligns your neck parallel to the mattress so it isn’t bent up or down. As for your mattress, it should be firm, but not too firm.

3. Change Your Sleep Position

Sleeping on your stomach may be the root of your pain. If so, switch to your back and prop up your knees with a pillow to keep your spine in a neutral position. Side-sleepers can try inserting a pillow between their knees.

4. Exercise Regularly

An intense workout just before you slip under the covers is not advisable. However, a brisk walk or relaxing yoga during the day can loosen up your muscles and joints, setting you up for a pain-free morning. Typically, thirty minutes of exercise a day will tire you out so you can fall asleep faster.

5. Stay Hydrated

During the night, you lose water when you sweat, which can lead to dehydration. Dehydration stiffens your muscles and joints as your tissues are deprived of fluids. So instead of going for that cup of morning coffee, drink two glasses of water first to rehydrate your body.

6. Take Vitamin D

Most people don’t get enough vitamin D in their diet. But the vitamin is essential for bone and muscle health. Have your doctor test your vitamin D levels, and if you are deficient, take a vitamin D supplement regularly.

7. Visit a Physical Therapist

Lingering morning pain should be checked out by a physical therapist. Keep a log of where the pain is strongest and which actions seem to aggravate it. Your physical therapist can show you how to adjust your sleeping position to prevent pain and improve your posture. He or she can also recommend the right pillow and mattress for a restful night’s slumber.

Don’t Live With Pain

If you’re experiencing pain and stiffness in the morning, the orthopedic specialists at Comprehensive Orthopaedics can review your symptoms to determine the source of your discomfort.

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