The Morning Aches: How to Cope and Prevent

The morning aches are a tough way to start the day. It can be very discouraging for patients to wake up and immediately be in pain and discomfort. Finding the root cause of the problem is the best way to prevent the morning aches and start waking up on the right side of the bed!


What Causes the Morning Aches

There could be a multitude of reasons you are waking up feeling stiff and achy. However, certain factors like cold temperatures or a change in altitude could be causing your joints to stiffen at night. Our pain receptors become more sensitive in the cold, and with less activity, and increased pressure in our joints, waking up can be difficult.

Other Causes:

- Intense activity the day prior: soreness can be confused with stiffness. If you had an intense day of working out, it is common to wake up a bit stiff. Take it slow, drink plenty of water, and do some light stretching before starting your day.

- An old mattress: One of the biggest reasons for both back pain and stiffness is an old mattress. You spend much of your life sleeping, so investing in a quality mattress should be a priority. Even if it isn't old, a mattress that doesn't support your specific body can wreak havoc on your body!

- Recent injury:  A knee or back injury could be a reason for waking up in pain. It is important to communicate with your doctor if your pain is affecting your sleep.

- Arthritis or other orthopedic injuries: Many of those suffering from arthritis experience aching in the morning. The wear and tear arthritis does to your joints can make you wake up in pain or with stiffness.

How to Stop the Morning Aches

First, you should speak with a doctor about your pain to rule out any serious injuries or conditions. There are other remedies that you can implement into your life to help stop the morning aches!

Evaluate Your Physical Activity: Do you have an exercise routine that works for you? Is your exercise causing you more pain? If not, talk with your doctor about ways you can implement or alter your routine. 

Stretching: Stretching throughout the day helps with stiffness. Before bed, try to do some light stretching and drink plenty of water to help lubricate your joints. When you wake up, find a stretch or yoga routine that you enjoy to get rid of the aches.

The ABC Routine: The ABC routine refers to an exercise that helps loosen your shoulders, back, and legs.

A: arm bends. Take a deep breath and sweep your arms out to the sides and up toward the ceiling. As you exhale, sweep your arms back down to your sides. Repeat up to 10 times.

B: Back Bends: Stand up straight with your feet slightly apart. Place your hands on your lower back with your fingertips pointing down. Take a deep breath, roll your shoulders back, and lift your chest toward the ceiling, slightly arching your back if comfortable. Look up to the ceiling (Be careful not to overextend your neck.) Hold for three to five seconds. Release and exhale. Do 3 to 5 reps.

C: Chair Pose: This common yoga pose is a great way to start your day! Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Raise your arms above your head. Take a deep breath, and on your exhale, lower into a squat or chair-like pose. Hold this position for 5 seconds, and release. You can repeat this for up to 10 reps.

When to See a Doctor for the Morning Aches

If you are losing sleep or you feel as if you cannot get out of bed in the morning, it is important to talk with a doctor. Sleep is one of the most important parts of a healthy lifestyle. An orthopedic surgeon can help and may even suggest physical therapy for the morning aches. A physical therapist can teach you ways to cope and give you advice that will last a lifetime! If you are looking for a physical therapist in the Nashville area, MPOWER Physical Therapy is now offering appointments.

Cassie Whittaker Cassie is the Communications Coordinator for Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics. She has been writing and reviewing medical content since 2020.

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