5 Daily Habits That Reduce Stiffness


I wanted to answer a common question I get asked about being stiff which we get asked regularly by patients at Preferred Physical Therapy:

Nick, do you have any advice for someone like me who isn’t in a lot of pain? I am incredibly stiff when I wake up in the morning and I feel it throughout the day, which means I can’t do things as easily as I’d like. Any advice?”

I’ve got plenty of tips and advice to help reduce stiffness.

But first I want to clear up ‘why’ we feel stiff in the first place.

Why Do I Feel Stiff?

A lot of people we see think that stiffness is something we feel as we get older – and while there’s some truth in that, stiffness isn’t always directly related to how old you are.

Yes, as you get older your joints and muscles might get stiff if you don’t exercise regularly. And it’s true that your joints become less flexible as the lubricating fluid inside them decreases, and the cartilage becomes thinner as you age… But there are other points to factor in too…

Not drinking enough fluids and dehydration can also lead to stiff muscles. Muscles are active tissues, which means they’re the kind of tissue that requires the most water in the body.

Inactivity is another culprit – leaving your muscles in one place for a prolonged period (sleep, sitting in a chair, driving for hours, etc.) can cause them to stiffen.

Another cause can be related to stress – when we’re in a state of stress, our bodies tighten up as preparation for a “fight or flight” situation. Prolonged stress can lead to you maintaining a tight posture, resulting in strain on the muscles.

So what can you do to reduce the side-effects of stiffness?

Here are five quick and easy tips to add to your daily routine that will help you live a life with less stiffness no matter what age you are…

Tips to Help Reduce Stiffness

1. Stretch – daily. Ten minutes in the morning when you first wake up, and ten minutes at night before bed. Doing gentle stretches just before bed can help you get a much better night’s sleep. No equipment needed, just you in the comfort of your own home (and some good music if you like).

2. Walk – for at least ten minutes a day (twenty minutes is even better if you can). Next time you need to make a long phone call, why not do it on your cell phone and walk at the same time?

3. Avoid long periods of sitting – you’re better off lying stretched out on the sofa than you are sitting in a chair for long periods of time. We’re NOT designed to sit, and stretching out can be a nice relief for muscles and joints, especially if you’ve had a long day at work sitting in a chair.

4. Take a warm bath – with Epsom salt or baking soda. The heat and combination of Epsom salt or baking soda will ease your muscles almost immediately and will calm your mind. It’s the perfect way to end your day and unwind before getting a good night’s sleep.

5. Drink plenty of water – Seventy percent of your muscles are water. So it makes sense that you need to drink plenty of water to support your body and keep it hydrated. My tip – have a glass of water by your bed ready for when you wake up on a morning, that way the first thing you do is drink a glass as soon as you wake up to kick-start your day.

Watch this video if: You have joint stiffness in the morning

How Can Physical Therapy Help Me?

It’s sad but a lot of people accept stiffness in their life as though it’s normal and nothing can be done about it. Stiffness in your joints such as your neck, shoulders, back, and knees is a sign that something needs to be done by you.

So there you have it, five things you can very easily put into action in your day as soon as today, to reduce stiffness and prevent it from making daily activities difficult to do.

Don’t accept stiffness as part of life, if you do and you don’t do anything about it, it’s likely to worsen and affect your ability to move freely.

P.S. If you’re experiencing stiffness in your back which restricts your ability to move without pain, click here to download my FREE back pain report which includes actionable tips I give to my patients at Preferred physical therapy. Click here to get your free copy: https://preferredptaz.com/back-pain/

Nick Hunter, PT, DPT

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