Do you wake up and need to rub your knees or shoulders or back, because your joints are aching? This is joint pain… There is a variety of pain and a variety of reasons why we experience pain. So today, I want to focus on understanding joint pain, and specifically, why we have MORNING JOINT PAIN
We go to bed… we have a good night of sleep… and yet, we wake feeling like we have been hit by a ton of bricks! You may know that morning stiffness is more common as one gets older… but is it inevitable?
Lets start by looking at some of the causes of morning stiffness:
1. Inactivity – General inactivity leads to muscle weakness and poor flexibility that puts extra strain on our joints.
2. Poor sleep – Interrupted sleep, too much or too little sleep, can affect our joints the next day.
3. Being overweight – Excess weight puts extra strain on our joints as well as causing us to feel lethargic.
4. A cold or damp environment – If we are sleeping in an area that is cold of damp, that will cause us to be tense during sleep and the cold will stiffen the joints.
5. Prolonged stillness – when we sleep we are still, therefore the fluid in our joints moves to where gravity tells it and our joints aren’t lubricated evenly when we start moving in the morning.
6. Arthritis or other chronic conditions – Joint stiffness is often worst following periods of inactivity. So in the morning our joints have stiffened up and you may experience pain.
So now that we know some of the things that cause us to be stiff… how do we counterbalance this and relax our stiff muscles???
A) Stretch – This helps increase blood flow to the stiff area.
Try these two stretches before you get up in the morning:
Start on the elbows and progress when ready. Keep the hips still and extend the arms for a stretch in the lower back.
Knee to chest
Pull the knee up to the chest and high tightly for a stretch in the hip and knee
B) Don’t rush to get up – Stay in bed and get your muscles moving. A good exercise to try is bridging, like the image below. Squeeze the bum and tummy to lift the hips in the air. Do 10-20 repetitions.
C) Have a warm shower – warmth will further relax those stiff muscles.
D) Eat breakfast – your muscles need nutrition and energy to work to their best.
E) Especially in winter, use warming lotion and massage around the joint to warm and sooth the area. Use heat packs or a heater to keep the environment warm.
F) Move your body – exercise, not only when you wake up, but on a regular basis so that the joints stay loose and the muscles are strong.
You may not be able to avoid morning stiffness altogether, but keeping fit and strong will decrease the time it takes for the stiffness to dissipate in the morning.
Remember to always move in the morning and do not rush out of bed. Your muscles have had a good night of sleep and need to be woken up gently.
For more information on what exercises will help with our morning stiffness, please follow the link below to see what we do.
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