When it comes to waking up a little “stiff” and painful in the morning, many people will often say, “I’m just getting old,” but old age alone does not cause morning joint stiffness. It is usually an indication of worn joints, muscle tightness, or inflammation from arthritis.
As your joints get older, the spongy cushion of cartilage begins to dry out and stiffen. The joint lining also produces less synovial fluid, which lubricates the joint. Weak muscles and stiff tendons also tend to tighten during sleep. Osteoarthritis, (the “wear and tear” kind), and rheumatoid arthritis, (which involves swelling and inflammation), both can trigger morning stiffness.
The average episode lasts only about 10 to 15 minutes. The stiffness goes away as you move and warm up the joints and muscles. However, stiffness from rheumatoid arthritis may last more than an hour.
Here are a few tips to get your joints warmed up and wake up happier, healthier and pain free:
1. Sleep – Be sure to get ample deep sleep so your body can repair and recharge. Forget about those troubles or conversations or tasks that need addressing; they can be handled tomorrow. Also, be sure to sleep either on your side or on your back, as stomach sleeping causes unnecessary stress on the low back and spine.
2. Check the Temperature – If your room is drafty, seal the windows or door. If it is cold, try a space heater or use extra blankets to prevent that cold or dampness from stiffening your body.
3. Bed Stretches – Do some easy stretches while lying in bed, then sitting up in bed, such as bending to the front and sides. This will stretch and loosen the muscles and help flush them with more blood.
4. Shower Your Joints – Taking a hot shower serves as a means to induce sweating, promotes blood circulation, and releases muscle spasms. Simply stand under the warm water and relax. After you are warmed up from the shower, do some gentle knee bends. You can hold on to something for balance if needed. These movements exercise almost 90 percent of the skeletal muscles…