Do you greet the morning with a smile, or do you wince in anticipation of the pain you’re about to experience? If the first motions you make to start your day are painful enough to make you think twice about getting out of bed, you’re certainly not alone. A variety of conditions can cause morning aches and pains. The good news is that you can get that discomfort out of your way through some simple physical therapy techniques. Check out the three exercises recommended in this article — and then contact our physical therapist for more tips and treatments!
Understanding Those Morning Aches and Pains
Tight muscles and stiff joints only become tighter and stiffer with inactivity. You might sleep through the night without ever realizing that your back, neck, shoulders, or other parts of the body are being affected by hours of stillness. Common overnight processes that can lead to morning aches and pains include:
- Reduced production of synovial fluid in the joints, which aggravates the pain of arthritis
- Trigger points, hard knots of tissue that can form when you sleep in awkward positions for hours (especially if you have fibromyalgia or myofascial pain syndrome)
- Overnight tightening of weak or chronically inflamed tendons, ligaments or other connective tissues
Symptoms Indicating Specific Musculoskeletal Conditions
Morning aches and pains can often indicate a specific underlying health problem that needs to be treated. For instance, back pain that is at its worst first thing in the morning, only to clear up after you’ve been up for a while, could be spondyloarthritis (inflammatory back pain). Morning pain accompanied by crushing fatigue could be a sign of fibromyalgia. Heel pain that hobbles you until you’ve been walking around for a moment indicated an inflammatory tissue problem called plantar fasciitis. Swollen joints on both sides of the body, accompanied by redness or fever, may mean rheumatoid arthritis.
How Physical Therapy Exercises Can Make Your Morning Brighter
Just as ongoing physical therapy can help you manage a variety of chronic pain conditions, specific physical therapy exercises can help you ease those morning aches and pains. Depending on the cause of your morning misery, our physical therapist may prescribe a variety of safe, simple exercises that you can perform in the comfort of your own home. Here are three physical therapy exercises that just might make your morning brighter:
- Knee-to-chest stretches: While you’re still lying flat on your back, pull both knees toward you until your feet are flat on the bed. Next, use both hands to pull your right knee, and then your left knee, toward your chest. Do 2 or 3 repetitions, holding the pose for about 30 seconds each time, to loosen up your lower back.
- Shoulder/upper back stretches: From a standing position, hold your right elbow with the opposite hand and stretch your right arm across the front of your body, keeping the arm straight. Hold this pose for 3o seconds, repeating 2 or 3 times for each arm to loosen the shoulders and upper back.
- Towel stretches: These foot stretches can relieve your plantar fasciitis pain before you even set foot out of bed in the morning. With your leg extended, wrap a towel around the bottom of the foot, and then pull the ends of the towel toward you until you feel the calf muscle lengthen and loosen.
These and other physical therapy techniques can help you greet the day with a smile instead of a groan. Contact our physical therapist today!