If you’re like me and almost every other baby boomer on the planet, you’ve experienced some kind of morning joint stiffness.
Rest assured, though, it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with 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 a number of reasons why we may be waking up with morning joint stiffness or an aching back.
Morning joint stiffness may have more to do with our worn-out mattress than our chronological age.
Causes of morning joint stiffness.
Many people think that morning joint stiffness has to do with aging joints. However, the most common reason for morning aches and pains is stiff muscles.
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.
There are other reasons you may be waking up stiff and achy which include:
- 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.
Ways to feel better when you have joint stiffness.
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 really want to take action to reduce morning joint stiffness, try to create a routine to keep your body flexible and to 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.
You can also:
- Replace your old mattress and pillow
- Keep your muscles warm in cold weather
- Learn how to destress (I have some suggestions for natural remedies here)
- Improve your 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 the cause of 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, improves joint health and the way you feel.
A change in diet may prevent inflammation that causes joint stiffness.
We all want to feel better if we’re suffering with 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 kind of sugar and ate only whole foods. I felt amazing!
Now that I’m y’old, I occasionally do a month of sugar-busting. I’m not saying that limiting sugar will reduce joint stiffness due to inflammation.
However, I will say that I always feel better when I avoid sugar in my diet.
Let’s move on to the list of suggested foods to include – and the list of what to avoid.
Anti-inflammatory foods to include in your diet:
- Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kales, and collards
- Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli
- Olives, extra virgin olive oil
- Fruits such as oranges, blueberries, strawberries, and cherries
- Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and pistachios
- Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
- Coffee and green tea
- Spices such as turmeric and cinnamon
Foods to avoid:
- Sugary drinks
- Processed meats such as cold cuts
- Excessive alcohol
- Trans fats found in fried foods
- White bread and pasta
- Sweets such as cakes and candy
- Processed snack foods like chips
While there are a number of causes for morning joint stiffness, the soreness is more commonly due to muscle overuse and exertion 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 part of growing up!
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.
Related articles you may enjoy:
- Can Whole 30 Diet Relieve Joint Pain? [My Friend Thinks So]
- 10 Immune System Boosting Foods Baby Boomers Should Add to Their Diets if They Want to Stay Healthy
What do you do to overcome morning stiffness due to muscle exertion or joint inflammation? Please leave us a comment below.
Your share is much appreciated!