Total Health

Why can you wake up sore and stiff in the morning?

July 16th, 2021 by
Category: Back pain Chiropractic Care Neck pain Sleep Spinal Health

Woman with face pressed in hands and sitting under blanket

Feeling sore and stiff when you first wake up in the morning is a common issue that can be associated with arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions. According to the Australian Institute Of Health and Welfare, it is estimated that 6.1 million Australians across all ages suffer from arthritis or other musculoskeletal conditions.

Although common, it’s important to note that waking up sore and stiff is not ‘normal’ – it can be sign that the spine and body has been under pressure all night. This can be due to the pillow or mattress you are sleeping on, lack of joint and body movement, or not enough stretching throughout the day.

Seeing a Chiropractor may be able to help – by completing a thorough examination and history to find out the underlying causes, we will be able to provide specific recommendations to prevent you waking up sore and stiff every morning.

Common reasons why you may be waking up sore and stiff in the morning – and what you can do about it!

1. Your pillow

One of the most common causes of morning stiffness that we see in practice is the pillow you are sleeping on every night. If there are no curves or contours on the pillow you are sleeping on, your head is not getting any support. Your head can sink into the pillow during the night – therefore, it can commonly cause morning stiffness that is felt in your neck and your spine. It is best to find a contoured pillow that supports the head, neck and shoulders, making sure it is the right height for you. Look for a pillow that is as thick as the distance between your ear and outside shoulder. This will help support your head and neck alignment.

2. Poor sleep posture

Poor sleep posture can lead to neck, back and shoulder pain the following morning and this pain can continue on throughout the day. It is important to maintain neutral spinal alignment while sleeping to help prevent pain.

Here are some of the recommended tips on the best sleeping positions and what to avoid. These sleeping positions will place your spine in a position that causes the least amount of stress and strain on the body.

  • Back sleeper – if you are a back sleeper, try placing a pillow underneath your knees. This will help take pressure off your lower back and maintain spinal alignment.
  • Side sleeper – if you are a side sleeper, try placing a pillow between your knees, making sure your hips and legs are aligned. If the pillow is too thick it can place pressure and strain on your spine.
  • Stomach sleeper – sleeping on your stomach is not recommended as it places a lot of stress and pressure on your spine, leading to back and neck pain.

3. Not enough movement

Lack of movement or exercise can cause general stiffness in your spine. If this is ongoing for a long period of time, it may lead to spinal osteoarthritis, which can cause stiffness when you wake up in the morning. It is important to make sure you are getting up and moving – this encourages blood flow, which helps the body relax and takes pressure off the spine. Doing gentle exercises like yoga, swimming or even a short walk around the block may help with general stiffness in the spine.

4. Not stretching

Muscle stiffness or tightness can occur after exercising, labour work or lifting something heavy. If the muscles around your spine are not stretched out or released, it may cause soreness and stiffness in the morning. Stretching in the morning before you get on with your day can help the muscles loosen. It’s also a good idea to stretch your muscles throughout the day as well.

Can Chiropractic care help people who wake up sore and stiff?

Chiropractic care may be able to improve and help correct your posture to ensure pressure is eased in your neck, middle and lower back. Chiropractors may help with movement in the spine by using a variety of techniques to get your joints moving, so you are not waking up every morning feeling sore and stiff! We can help correct your sleeping posture by assessing the best position suited for your spine – we can also assess the pillow and mattress you are sleeping on to see if it it’s causing your to wake up sore and stiff in the mornings and recommend better options for you.

Your spine protects your nervous system, which this is responsible for controlling and coordinating your whole body. Therefore, looking after your spine can have a positive influence on your overall health by having a nervous system that functions better!

Article written by Dr. Mymy Quach (Chiropractor)


Years Combined

Average Client


Patients Visits


Practices Around