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Morning stiffness, hurting joints? Reverse the discomfort with healthy diet, proper sleep and yoga

Keeping bedroom warm, letting go of stress and relaxing before falling asleep can work wonders.

, ET Bureau|
Oct 23, 2018, 11.08 AM IST
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Do you find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning because of pain? Does it take an hour for your body and your joints to loosen up before you start doing your daily tasks? If your answer is yes, it is high time you did a check on your lifestyle and set things right. It’s important because morning stiffness is the common symptom for diseases such as fibromyalgia, arthritis and rheumatism.

Doctors say the basic causes of morning stiffness are lack of daily physical activity, being overweight, having a poor diet, not sleeping properly and being in an environment that tends to be cold.

According to Dr Chirag Thonse, orthopaedic surgeon and specialist in arthroscopy, sports injuries and joint replacement surgeries at Fortis Hospitals, Bengaluru, “One of the reasons for morning stiffness could be poor sleeping posture that might decrease blood flow to muscles, making the body stiff. Inactivity for a prolonged period, sleeping in cold environment, consuming a diet that is high in carbohydrates all make your body lethargic and stiff. When the muscles and joints are not being stretched regularly, the fluid necessary to keep the joints lubricated is not passed to them. Hence, joints become stiff when one wakes up.”

Dr Chethana D, consultant-rheumatology, Aster CMI Hospital, Bengaluru, said early-morning stiffness in joints is a common symptom of inflammatory arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis. Low levels of blood cortisol in the late hours of night and early morning cause increase in the levels of certain chemicals called cytokines in the blood, which are responsible for morning stiffness.

Thonse too said morning stiffness can be an early indicator of arthritis. “Morning stiffness generally lasts for 30 minutes. However, if you are experiencing prolonged pain, it might be a serious cause of concern. If you are experiencing morning stiffness frequently, it is recommended you consult an orthopaedist at the earliest,” he added.

Morning stiffness in joints or back lasting more than 30 minutes on waking up could also mean ankylosing spondylitis, which affects the spine, said Chethana. More importantly, if not detected and treated early, this type of arthritis, which mostly affects young- to middle-aged people, can cause severe deformities in the spine, leading to disability, she said.

“The accumulation of ama (toxins) and vitiation of vata dosha in the body often lead to morning stiffness. It is important to get rid of ama (and improve your digestion process) as this gets easily settled in the joints and spine. If one does not have any issues with digestion, then abhyanga or massage with oils medicated with ayurvedic herbs is recommended to relieve chronic pain and stiffness in joints. A tablespoon of ashwagandha can be taken with milk before bed for better results,” said Mohamad Yusuf N Shaikh, founder, Kudrati Ayurved Health Center, Ahmedabad.


Overcoming morning stiffness and its associated pain in the knees, heels and back is as easy as you think. Eating healthy, getting proper sleep and having ample amount of water and nutrition will help you stay fit.

Following yamas and niyamas, practising yoga, consuming a balanced diet based on one’s levels of vata, pitta and kapha in our body and additional ayurvedic herbs maintains the optimal health of joints and muscles. A simple lifestyle and eating habits that Ayurveda prescribes prevent us from falling prey to morning stiffness and related diseases, Shaikh said.

Thonse said ample amount of sleep without any stress prepares the body to repair and get ready to function properly the next day. And to get it, Chethana advises you to keep your bedroom warm, let go of stress and relax before falling asleep. Sleeping in a position that best supports your joints will ensure a good night’s sleep.

Exercising and stretching can help joints from not turning stiff; they help loosen the muscles and allow proper flow of blood, said Thonse. According to Chethana, doing simple stretching exercises before getting out of bed can help. Taking a hot shower as soon as you wake up has benefits, she said. Thonse added: “If you are too tired after work or commuting after work, you can always go for a hot water bath. It will help your muscles relax, induces sweat and promotes blood circulation.”
You Don't Have to Live with Pain

According to Shaikh, abhyanga is one of the best therapies to treat morning stiffness as it improves blood circulation in the body while purifying it by getting rid of all toxins and impurities. A regular gentle massage with sesame oil or any other herbal oil lubricates the joints, promotes cell regeneration and improves the flexibility of the muscles.

Moreover, before taking a meal, ensure that the previous one is digested completely as undigested food or ama creates further problems, he said.

If you have arthritis or morning stiffness, plan and manage your daily activities so that you are not rushing constantly and putting yourself in pain, Chethana said.

Ensure that you are not overweight and stay in the optimum range.

If you are on any prescription medication for a joint-related ailment, make sure you have it regularly.

International Yoga Day: Asanas For Women To Stay Youthful, Happy And Healthy

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For A Healthy You!

21 Jun, 2018
As women venture into new terrains, also performing duties in their traditional mould, striking a balance is important to stay healthy. Yoga can help them in a big way to achieve this. Akshar Nath, Chairman of Akshar Yoga, shares a few dynamic asanas for maintaining a youthful, happy and a healthy body for women across all ages. NOTE: While every woman irrespective of her age can perform all these asanas, women with fluctuating blood pressure or those under medical surveillance are not advised to do these. Also read: Pranayama - use the power of your breath to stay healthy

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If morning stiffness lasts over 30 minutes, you need to show a doctor

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