Achy and Painful Mornings Don’t Have to be Your Life! Why does your body feel so painful, achy, and stiff in the morning? Could these persistent aches be due to an old, unfit mattress? A pillow that doesn’t have enough ergonomic support? Perhaps an improper sleeping position that causes undue stress on your body? Do you have an underlying health condition, such as osteoarthritis? What about dehydration? It might be a combination of these issues, or maybe it’s something else entirely. No matter what the reason, morning aches and pains are no joke. To get your day started in the right direction and help you feel more limber and energized in the morning, check out these four top tips from our licensed and dedicated team of physical therapists: 1. Reach out to a physical therapist for help. If your morning achiness is severe enough to cause you stress or affect your daily life, it may be time to consult with a physical therapist. He or she can diagnose and manage many underlying health conditions. He or she can also offer tips on improving your sleep hygiene and posture, and prescribe interventions that will maximize your connective tissue health overall and help you feel and function better. 2. Increase your physical activity. Some of us toss and turn more than others, but we all move our bodies less frequently when we’re asleep compared to when we’re awake. This may slow circulation and cause our tissues to become stiff, especially if we sleep in odd positions or have an underlying health problem like arthritis. By the way: your achy back may not be just because of your mattress. Spinal discs become imbibed with fluid at night as we sleep horizontally (since gravity compresses our spines less in this position). While this is a normal physiological process, it can make our backs feel super stiff. One of the best ways to stimulate circulation, increase tissue perfusion, and loosen up your connective tissues is to move! So, try to do some sort of physical activity soon after you wake up. This could be as simple as some stretches and exercises while lying or sitting on your bed, a gentle yoga flow, or even a brisk walk around your neighborhood. Just remember to always consult with your doctor, physical therapist, or other appropriate healthcare provider before starting any new exercise routine. 3. Relax with deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing is so powerful that it’s routinely used as a way to relax the body, alleviate tension and stress, and decrease pain. We encourage you to use your breath as a tool for relieving morning tension. There are so many breathing exercises to choose from! A popular one is called box breathing (aka square breathing or 4×4 breathing). To do, breathe in through your nose for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale through your mouth for a count of 4, and hold for a count of 4 before breathing in again. Repeat for 1 to 2 minutes. 4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Your body loses a lot of water at night while you’re sleeping, mostly through sweat and breath. So, it’s not unusual to wake up in the morning and be super dehydrated. Unfortunately, dehydration can contribute to stiff, sore, and achy joints and muscles since our tissues will lack the water they need to feel and function at their best. Of course, we know many people prefer a fresh cup of java before anything else. But before you reach for your cup o’ Joe, first drink one or two cold glasses of water instead. This will refresh and energize you, replenish your body’s water stores, and may help your body. Bonus: drinking more water may help you lose weight, and we know obesity is associated with chronic pain. 5. Try changing your diet. Certain foods have been known to alleviate inflammation, where some foods can aggravate it. As stated by Harvard Health Publishing, “A lot of chronic pain is the result of chronic inflammation, and the evidence is quite strong that your diet can contribute to increased systemic inflammation.” If you have been noticing aches and pains, making nutritional changes might help. Looking for more help? We’ve got you covered If you find yourself still noticing persistent aches and pains, a physical therapist can put together a treatment plan for your specific needs. A physical therapist will determine the cause of your pain and treat it at its source, so you can get back to living comfortably once again. Don’t let pain be a part of your life – find relief with physical therapy! Contact us today to schedule a consultation and get started on the first steps toward relief.