Published on May 03, 2022

Why Do My Joints Feel Stiff In The Morning And What Can I Do About It?

Knee Joint Stiffness

Generally speaking, many people experience some joint stiffness which is often more severe when first rising in the morning. There are many factors that may contribute to the intensity of this but one thing that affects everyone is age.

Your joints are made up of bone, cartilage and synovial fluid. As we age, cartilage starts to break down and our bodies start to produce less synovial fluid. The cartilage and fluid are what lubricate the joints and allow for nice, smooth motion. Moving a joint without synovial fluid or cartilage in it would be like running an engine without oil - it causes friction, which then often causes pain.

When we sleep, our joints move very little. Muscle tissue becomes less flexible and the joint surfaces become less lubricated. As a result, things stiffen up. This is a somewhat normal occurrence but can affect some people more severely than others.

So what can we do about it? Well, there are several things we can do that will likely improve or manage this problem. Eating a healthy nutrient-rich diet, staying well hydrated, getting to or staying at a healthy body weight and exercising regularly have all been shown as effective ways to improve joint health.

It helps to also have a regular mobility routine to start your day off with. Before you even get out of bed, try some gentle lumbar rotations or knee to chest exercises. Sitting from the side of the bed, you can perform gentle trunk rotation, forward reaches and knee extension exercises. Once standing, try some hip flexor stretches and heel rises. Try to develop an individualized plan that you can really stay consistent with.

Our bodies are made for movement and activity. Finding a comprehensive approach that keeps us active and addresses any mobility restrictions plays a key role in how we feel on a daily basis.  

If your symptoms are not well managed or significantly worsening, you should consult your primary health care provider to ensure there is not an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

Dave Bearss, P.T., D.P.T., C.S.C.S., T.P.I., is a physical therapist who specializes in sports medicine and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He sees patients at the Campus Ridge Building, located on the campus of MyMichigan Medical Center Midland. To schedule an appointment, call the office at (989) 837-9100.