What Causes Morning Joint Stiffness [How to Overcome the Soreness]

Morning Joint Stiffness - Rebel Retirement

If you’re like me and almost every other baby boomer on the planet, you’ve experienced some kind of morning joint stiffness.

Here’s my story.

One morning out of the blue I woke up with a stiff, sore hip. The discomfort began during the night and my hip felt achy in the morning when I woke up. After that, I noticed that some nights it felt more sensitive.

To help alleviate the morning stiffness, I immediately began doing hip stretches as soon as I got out of bed.

I wasn’t exactly sure what the problem was but refused to resign myself to the idea that it was due to aging.

Because I work out and practice yoga, I thought it likely that I had injured myself.

After a couple of months of trying to find the root cause of my sore hip, I discovered a website called Yoga for Healthy Aging.

One of the articles I read helped me realize why my hip ached. By forcing my body into Trikonasana (the Sanskrit name for Triangle Pose), I had twisted my hip and overstressed a muscle.

Poor alignment of the pose had caused my problem.

As a true believer in the benefits of yoga, I took measures to undo the damage I’d done.

After making a few adjustments to my routine practice, my sore muscle is healing and feels much better.


There are a number of reasons why you may be waking up with morning joint stiffness or an aching back.

Rest assured, though, it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with arthritis or some other dreaded condition.

While our bodies naturally change as we age, and achy joints tend to increase as we get older, your morning joint stiffness may have more to do with your worn out mattress than your chronological age.

Reasons you may have morning joint stiffness.

Many people think that morning 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 as I did with Triangle Pose, 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 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.

What can you do to overcome morning soreness?

The most important thing you can do to overcome morning soreness is to get moving as soon as you 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, I encourage you 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

If it isn’t your muscles talking to you, your joint stiffness may be due to inflammation.

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 nights 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.

Making changes in your diet may prevent inflammation that causes stiff and achy joints.

Feel better. Take charge of your health by making simple food choices to reduce joint inflammation.

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

Can The Whole 30 Diet help with joint stiffness?

I had never heard of Whole 30 until a childhood friend made glowing remarks about the diet on Facebook.

He looked great and said he lost weight without exercising and also said that his aches and pains were gone.

Incredible! I was curious and decided to read the book.

The diet is designed to help you clean up your eating habits while cutting out foods that may be having a negative impact on your health.

I took the challenge and cut out many foods on the Whole 30 list, but not all.

For thirty days, I didn’t eat any kind of sugar, legumes, bread, rice, pasta, or white potatoes.

Although I was not trying to fix a health problem with Whole 30, I noticed a difference.

I  had less intestinal gas and an overall healthier feeling in my gut as a result of the 30-day experiment.

I wasn’t having any joint problems, so I cannot speak to its efficacy in that area.

However, as mentioned, my friend said that his aches and pains were gone after going on the diet.

I hope this little tidbit is helpful in your quest to find solutions to reducing morning stiffness and joint pain.

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of Whole 30, I invite you to buy the book through our Amazon affiliate link. Don’t worry.  You’ll get Amazon’s great prices without paying a penny more, although we’ll get a few cents commission, for which we are grateful.

Take Away

The causes of morning joint stiffness are more commonly due to muscle overuse and exertion than from inflammation of the joints due to aging.

In some cases, morning stiffness is due to other factors in your environment like poor quality mattresses and pillows, cold weather, poor diet, or stress.

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.

Another article you may like:

What do you do to overcome morning stiffness due to muscle exertion or joint inflammation? Please leave us a comment below.



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