Causes of Morning Joint Stiffness – Plus Tips and Tricks for Relief

Morning Joint Stiffness - Rebel Retirement

If you’re like me, you’ve experienced some kind of morning joint stiffness.

Rest assured, though, the cause of morning joint stiffness isn’t necessarily because of arthritis or another dreaded condition.

While our bodies naturally change as we age, and achy joints tend to increase as we get older, there are several reasons why we may be waking up with morning joint stiffness or an aching back.

The causes of morning joint stiffness may have more to do with our worn-out mattress than our chronological age.

What causes joint stiffness in the morning?

The most common reason for morning aches and pains is stiff muscles due to exertion. Many people think that morning joint stiffness has to do with aging joints. While that may be a factor, overuse of your muscles could be the culprit.

For example, we’ve all experienced sore muscles after doing an activity we haven’t done in a while.

Consider how your body feels after hours of digging up your spring garden plot or playing an energetic game of volleyball at a Mother’s Day picnic.

If you’ve overworked your muscles, or gone beyond your limits while exercising, you’re likely to feel it in a day or two, especially in the morning arising out of bed.

The opposite of overexertion is also true. Your muscles don’t like it when you’re sedentary and don’t move as much as you should.

They will announce their displeasure through morning joint stiffness that will have you moaning and groaning as you trudge to the kitchen for your morning cup of joe.

5 other reasons you may be waking up stiff and achy

  • Cold weather – a 2012 study in Sweden of 135,000 construction workers who spent several hours a day working in the cold suffered more neck and back pain than people who didn’t.
  • A bad pillow – a pillow that is old and worn out or one that doesn’t properly support your neck and spine could leave you with a stiff neck in the morning.
  • Emotional stress – if you don’t get a handle on the stressors in your life, your muscles let you know by getting all tied up in knots.
  • Poor posture – holding your spine upright may require effort, but it helps to prevent back pain caused by being hunched over – particularly over a computer.
  • Being overweight – too much fat puts stress on your skeleton and muscles.

How do I stop my joints from feeling stiff in the morning?

The most important thing we can do to overcome morning soreness is to get moving as soon as we wake up.

>Stretch while still in bed and continue with some additional light stretching before heading to the bathroom or breakfast table.

>If you truly desire to reduce morning joint stiffness, create a routine to keep your body flexible and prevent it from wasting away.

>Get hooked on a regular exercise program.

>Establish a habit, stay active, and in motion to prevent morning joint stiffness.

>Find an activity you enjoy and just do it! It can be as simple as a daily walk or a serious regimen of strength training and cardio.

Read: Best Yoga and Workout Videos for Women Over 60 Who Want to Look Hot

Disclosure: This article contains Amazon affiliate links to products we recommend. If you click through and make a purchase through these links, we’ll get a small commission, but you won’t pay any extra. Thank you! 

Other measures to relieve joint pain:

  • Replace old mattress and pillow
  • Keep muscles warm in cold weather
  • Learn how to destress (I have some suggestions for natural remedies here)
  • Improve posture. When standing, stand erect with proper alignment of your neck, spine, hips, and knees.
  • Lose weight.
  • Soak in an Epsom salt bath
  • Use muscle pain cream
  • Heating pads

Most likely, the overuse of muscles is the cause of our morning joint stiffness.  However,  joint stiffness may be due to inflammation.

Inflammation may cause morning joint stiffness.

If overuse of your muscles isn’t the culprit of your soreness, then you may have joint inflammation caused by an old injury or some form of arthritis.

I’ve learned that joints begin to wear out as we age. It’s considered normal wear and tear on the body much the same as with anything that’s been around for a while that begins to show its age.

Depending on your genetic history and other factors such as lifestyle choices, you may have more or less morning joint stiffness.

Our bodies are amazing machines! This is where waking up the body with movement comes in again.

After a night’s sleep in which your anti-inflammatory proteins slow down, movement tells these compounds in your body to wake up and start releasing their natural pain relievers.

Movement always reduces soreness and improves joint health and the way you feel.

Dietary changes may prevent inflammation that causes joint stiffness.

We all want to feel better if we’re suffering from an achy body and stiff joints.  And it doesn’t hurt to take charge of our health by making simple food choices to reduce joint inflammation.

In my early 40s, for 7 months during my 4th pregnancy and 9 months during my 5th, I went without any sugar and ate only whole foods.  I felt amazing!

Now that I’m older, I occasionally do a month of sugar-busting.

Although I’m not suggesting that limiting sugar will reduce joint stiffness due to inflammation, I will say that I always feel better avoiding sugar.

With that in mind, let’s move on to a list of suggested anti-inflammatory foods to include in your diet and a list of what to avoid.

21 anti-inflammatory foods to include in your diet:

Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet can help promote overall health and reduce the risk of chronic disease associated with inflammation. Here are 21 anti-inflammatory foods you can consider adding to your diet:

  1. Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries)
  2. Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines)
  3. Leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard greens)
  4. Turmeric
  5. Ginger
  6. Olive oil (extra virgin)
  7. Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios)
  8. Seeds (flaxseeds, chia seeds)
  9. Green tea, coffee
  10. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)
  11. Avocado
  12. Tomatoes
  13. Cherries
  14. Oranges and other citrus fruits
  15. Pineapple
  16. Dark chocolate (in moderation, with high cocoa content)
  17. Garlic
  18. Onions
  19. Sweet potatoes
  20. Whole grains (oats, quinoa, brown rice)
  21. Legumes (beans, lentils)

    21 Inflammatory foods to avoid:

    Here is a list of 21 inflammatory foods that you may want to limit or avoid in your diet to help reduce inflammation:

    1. Processed foods (chips, cookies, sugary snacks)
    2. Sugary beverages (soda, energy drinks, sweetened juices)
    3. Refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, sugary cereals)
    4. Trans fats (found in many fried and commercially baked foods)
    5. Vegetable oils high in omega-6 fatty acids (corn oil, soybean oil)
    6. Red and processed meats (burgers, hot dogs, bacon)
    7. High-sodium foods (processed meats, canned soups, fast food)
    8. Artificial sweeteners
    9. Excessive alcohol
    10. High-fructose corn syrup (found in many processed foods)
    11. Dairy products with added hormones and antibiotics
    12. Margarine and other hydrogenated oils
    13. Artificial food additives and preservatives
    14. Highly processed and refined foods
    15. Fried foods
    16. Excessive intake of red meat
    17. Foods high in refined sugar
    18. Excessive caffeine
    19. White potatoes (when consumed in excess)
    20. Processed and deli meats (salami, sausages)
    21. Foods high in saturated fats (fatty cuts of meat, full-fat dairy)

    How do you overcome morning stiffness due to muscle exertion or joint inflammation? Please leave us a comment below. And before you go, please take a moment to subscribe to our newsletter, and like us on Facebook.


      There are several causes for morning joint stiffness including inflammation. However, the soreness is more commonly due to muscle overuse and overexertion than from inflammation of the joints due to aging.

      Factors in your environment like poor quality mattresses and pillows, cold weather, poor diet, or stress can be the reason you are waking up with stiff joints.

      However, we cannot rule out aging as the reason that we feel stiff and achy. Our joints begin to wear out as we age – it’s a natural aging process.

      Regardless of whether your morning joint stiffness is due to overexertion, or the natural effects of aging, a lifestyle in which you move and eat well is essential for easing morning soreness.

      Last update: 08/03/23

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      How do you overcome morning stiffness due to muscle exertion or joint inflammation? Please leave us a comment below. And before you go, please take a moment to subscribe to our newsletter, and like us on Facebook.

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