Question

Joint Health

Why is my shoulder tight when I wake up in the morning?

A Answers (3)

  • AJonathan Penney, Fitness, answered on behalf of National Academy of Sports Medicine

    Your shoulder may be tight due to the way you slept.  Many days of the week I wake up and my shoulders are also tight.  The reasoning for this related to how I sleep which is most often on my left side.  By sleeping on my left side my body is slightly hunched over and this was not how my body was designed.  Our bodies are not designed to stay in certain positions for over extended periods of time. 

    Think of it this way, when you are at work, and if you have a desk job similar to most Americans, do you find that one area of your body is tight at the end of the day?  It might be your hips, it might be your back, everyone is different but we all experience stiffness from prolonged periods of time spent in one position.  Most likely your reasoning for tightness is due to the way you are sleeping.  Be sure to replace your pillow as necessary and try to sleep on your back.  If you are able to complete this then it may prevent shoulder tightness.  If you are already doing everything listed then please reply with some more details so I can try and assist you.

  • AJoel Harper - Elite Trainer, Fitness, answered
    Shoulder Rolls. Roll your shoulders forward for a count of 10 and back for ten. Your goal is to get a full range of movement with your shoulders. Notice any areas that you don't move fluidly and try to open them up by relaxing as you move your hands in full circles. Get in the habit of doing this between sets. Ideally do it in the front of a mirror. Lots of my clients think they are doing it correctly, but they are skipping one side.
  • AJara Soost , NASM Elite Trainer, Athletic Training, answered
    Sleeping on your side generally pushes the shoulder together on the side that you are lying on and the shoulder on top is generally being overstretched.  In addition, staying in one position for a period of time can cause muscles to tighten up and cause stiffness in your shoulders in the morning.  Sleeping on your back can be helpful as well as making sure you stretch gently before and after you sleep. 
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