Chronic stiffness is characterized by a tight feeling that makes movement more difficult than usual, especially after exercise and periods of inactivity. It can be the result of aging, medical conditions or lifestyle choices. Stiffness may also coincide with other issues such as cramping, discomfort and muscle pains.
There’s no denying that chronic stiffness can be frustrating to live with. The good news is that there are a number of ways you can alleviate the issue and improve the way you feel. Aside from anti-inflammatory medications that reduce discomfort, there are several solutions for treating stiffness at home. Take a look at the following 6 tips.
Heat or Cold
Applying heat or cold to affected areas works for specific types of stiffness. Heat therapy, such as with hot packs, heating pads and patches works well for muscle tightness. Swelling and inflammation are best treated with cold. In both cases, you should aim to apply the treatment for up to 20 minutes and rest for another 20 minutes before reapplying.
Stretching is a tried-and-tested way to improve your flexibility and keep muscle stiffness at bay. It increases circulation and reduces inflammation, thus helping you feel better and more mobile. Be sure to make time for regular exercise and incorporate a stretching routine before and after each session. Warm baths and massages are also helpful.
There are several exercises you can perform for specific muscle groups. For instance, for your thighs, you can stand up and bend one leg so that your foot reaches your back. Neck stiffness can be alleviated by standing upright and rolling your neck from one side of your chest to the other while lying down and bending your knees can help your lower back.
If you’re waking up feeling stiff and sore in the morning, it’s worth looking into how you sleep. The right pillow is one that accurately aligns with the part of your spine that’s in your neck. Sleeping on your back or side with the pillow under or between your knees is better than sleeping on your stomach.
Your mattress can also greatly affect your sleep posture, thus potentially creating or alleviating stiffness. Consider taking a look at mattresses for side sleepers with back pain to get a better idea of what you should be sleeping on. It may also help you fall asleep faster and for longer if you struggle with that.
Excess weight can cause pressure to build up in your muscles and joints. This is another reason why it’s so important to follow healthy lifestyle habits, such as exercising and avoiding junk food. In fact, eating a balanced diet can go a long way in reducing stiffness in your body. More on this below.
Calcium and Magnesium
These two nutrients are key to muscle health. To improve your calcium intake, consider having more dairy products. Alternatively, you can have rice, soy or almond milk. Salmon and fortified orange juice are also great sources of calcium. You can obtain magnesium from nuts, fish, seeds, bananas, avocados, and dark leafy green vegetables.
Proper daily water intake ensures that your muscles are functioning in peak condition. This is especially important if you’re active and you sweat. Studies have found that insufficient water intake during exercise can damage your muscles and increase soreness. Depending on your weight, you should aim to have around eight glasses of water per day.
The best way to alleviate chronic stiffness ultimately comes down to following a healthy lifestyle. Eating right, exercising, stretching, maintaining your posture and following healthy sleeping habits can do wonders when it comes to improving your flexibility and reducing pain. Take the initiative to get these factors in order and you’ll quickly notice the difference.