“I feel like an old man when I get out of bed!”
Often my patients mention feeling pain and stiffness when they get out of bed in the morning. This might be since a recent injury, or it could be a longer-term problem building up, and they want to know what to do about it.
How long does it last?
This morning stiffness normally lasts for about 20-40 minutes. If the pain lasts more than an hour after getting out of bed, and you can’t think of any obvious reason for it, you should mention this to your GP (it could be an inflammatory problem such as ankylosing spondylitis or polymyalgia rheumatica).
If that wasn’t bad enough, first thing in the morning seems to be a favourite time for people to injure themselves (“I just bent down to pick up my slippers and I felt my back go…”). This happens because the body has not warmed up yet. The tissues are stiff like a piece of plasticine when you first pick it up. And without much blood going into the nerves and muscles yet, you may not react to movements quickly enough.
How about a warm-up before you get out of bed?
One way to help with the stiffness, and even prevent injury could be a quick warm-up before you get out of bed. I’ve jotted down some ideas below, starting at the feet and working our way up to the back. It’s really simple and the only problem might be if you push too hard and your muscles go into cramp. So please do these gently at first. (Skip to the video below if you want to see what the exercises look like.)
- Wiggle your toes Simply wiggling your toes sends signals from your spinal cord down some of the biggest, longest nerves in the body to your feet. When I do this I can feel it waking up my body and it often makes me yawn as the body starts to require more oxygen.
- Ankle circles Moving at the ankle, turn your feet in circles, first one way, then the other.
- Hip stretches Bring one knee towards your chest several times.
- Knee bends Lift one knee up to 90º then slowly straighten your foot up towards the ceiling, extending as far as is comfortable. Repeat this several times before changing legs. Warning: this may annoy your partner if you drag the bedclothes off him/her!
- Supine Twist Lie with your knees bent (feet still on the bed). Lower your knees down to the left, then slowly swing them over to the right. This stretches the joints and muscles in the back and nicely prepares them for getting up.
- Buttock muscle stretch If you are flexible enough: cross right foot over onto left knee and pull the left knee towards you. You should feel a great stretch in your right buttock.
- Cat-Camel Roll over onto your hands and knees. Flex and extend your lumbar spine, think of it as “tuck your bottom in, stick your bottom out”. Repeat as many times as you like.
- Get up and have a great day!
Have a look at the video below to see what these exercises look like.
And if you need any more help or advice please call to make an appointment on 520714