Morning stiffness and discomfort may seem like a normal part of the aging process, but it doesn’t have to be. You can ease those early aches when heavy workouts or recovery from a procedure make getting out of bed a bit difficult. When arthritis or back, leg or shoulder pain hinder your morning routine, the experts at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) have some excellent self-care techniques designed to manage and reduce morning discomfort for a pain-free life.
For the best results, talk with your SSI doctors. Learn to carefully track your specific symptoms — along with any treatment you receive — to determine which method or combination of methods works best. Everyone responds differently, so tracking your experience helps you and your specialist come up with the best course of treatment to help your day start a little better.
Symptoms of Early Morning Pain
Although sleep and rest are essential to daily functioning, being still for several hours at a time increases the chances for early morning discomfort. Some normal symptoms that interfere with a pain-free life include:
- Reduced joint movement
- A stiff neck
- Joint pain, especially in your lower back, hips and knees
- General achiness
- Muscle pain
- Pain that usually appears symmetrically across your body
Morning Routines that Lead to a More Pain-Free Life
Morning stiffness and discomfort don’t have to dictate the rest of your day’s comfort. A few simple steps help alleviate your pain and get you going every day with more flexibility. A few tips that may work for you include:
- Introduce warmth into your early morning. Place an electric blanket on your bed with a timer to turn on 30 minutes before your alarm. Or apply a warm heating pad to a typically sore spot for a few minutes before you rise.
- Place your clothes in the dryer so they’re warm and soothing when you dress.
- As soon as you roll out of bed, take a long, hot shower or a warm soak in a tub.
- Make sure your sleep routine is consistent and conducive to optimal rest. Limit the caffeine and alcohol you drink in the evening. Don’t watch stimulating television late at night, and limit the blue light from electronic devices before bedtime.
- After discussing with your spine physician, implement a simple stretching routine while you’re still in the bed to awaken and loosen stiff and cramped muscles. Your SSI physical therapist can suggest many morning stretches.
- Stop smoking to encourage your blood flow. Nicotine inhibits blood flow, trapping toxins and fluids in your tissues. Smoking doesn’t lead to a pain-free life.
- Find the best bedroom temperature. If you’re too cold, you may wake up with stiff muscles. If it’s too warm, you may not sleep well during the night.
- Try sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees, on your stomach with a pillow under your pelvic bones, or on your side with a pillow to support your legs. Another option is to sleep on an incline or with a towel under your neck.
- Do low-impact exercises daily to keep your muscles flexible and strong so you wake up refreshed, not sore.
- Discuss the option of natural sleep aids, such as melatonin, with your SSI specialist.
- Use a foam roller before bed and after waking to gently self-massage away tight areas in your muscles.
- Consider incorporating morning tai chi or yoga. These gentle morning stretches and poses awaken stiff muscles and joints and encourage calm.
Overuse, injury, exercise and aging all contribute to a greater chance of stiff and achy muscles in the morning. Encouraging your body’s natural pain-relieving responses and finding effective methods to manage your symptoms limits this discomfort so you can enjoy a pain-free life.