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How can I prevent waking up with a stiff back?

Getting a good night's sleep is so important to your overall health. If you're waking up with a stiff back, it may be time to take a look at your sleeping position and/or your mattress.  Sleeping on your side or back is the most ideal position, but if you can only sleep on your stomach there are some things that can help.  If you sleep on your stomach, you can place a pillow underneath your hips to improve the natural curves in your spine. If you are a side sleeper, a pillow between your knees may help.  Back sleepers can place a pillow under their knees to improve back pain.  Additionally, you can stretch first thing upon waking to improve a stiff back. Bending forward to touch your toes is one great stretch. Reaching down to each foot with your legs apart can also stretch each side of the back.  Curling your back up like a cat on your hands and knees is another great stretch.  Strengthening your core muscles with plank positions while exercising can also improve lower back pain and stiffness. 

A comprehensive approach to eliminating back stiffness may be your best solution. Begin by making simple changes in your sleeping position that take strain off your back. If you tend to sleep on your side, in addition to using a pillow under your head, place another pillow between your knees. This position tends to be helpful if you have osteoarthritis in the spine or hip pain. If you sleep on your back, place a pillow underneath your knees and head. This position helps to maintain the normal curve of your low back and is helpful if you suffer from low back pain. Sleeping on your abdomen can be especially hard on your back. But if you can't sleep any other way, reduce the strain by placing a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen. Upon waking in the morning, a few stretches and light aerobic activity can further loosen your back. Start by performing a standing hip stretch, outer hamstring stretch, and standing latissimus dorsi (back) stretch. These stretches help to relax and elongate tight muscles that pull on your pelvis and spine. After stretching, some light aerobic activity will help increase blood circulation, increases tissue temperature, and enhances the body's ability to supply muscles with oxygen and nutrients. Some exercises that can be performed include arm circles, marching in place, and low intensity hip swings.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.