Stiff Joints by Goodhealth

Stiff Joints

April 17, 2023

Stiffness in muscles and joints can be debilitating, especially in the morning when you want to get up and go. Stiff joints aren’t a sign of aging alone, it could be your body telling you something more serious is going on. But why do you get stiff joints in the morning? Read on to find out why, and what you and your loved ones can do about it.

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  1. Why Joints Might Be Stiffer in the Morning
  2. It Is Not So Simple as Aging
  3. What Can Be Done?

Why Joints Might Be Stiffer in the Morning

Morning stiffness does not occur with age alone, it is one of the most common symptoms of joint conditions. In an affected joint, there may be less cartilage and less synovial fluid which means less lubrication for the joint. After a night of resting, the joints become stiff, and as muscles and tendons tighten, mobility is affected. Stiffness will go away through gentle motion as muscles and joints warm up, however morning stiffness will commonly last longer if something more serious is going on.

It Is Not So Simple as Aging

A healthy joint is lined by cartilage and a synovium membrane, which produces the lubricating synovial fluid. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding the joint provide support and allow for smooth, comfortable muscle movement. However, as we age, the manufacture of synovial fluid is less than the amount naturally broken down. This results in a thinning of the fluid, which contributes to the wearing of cartilage and the loss of mobility. This does not mean that we will automatically experience stiff joints just because we are getting older. The latest research shows that there is still an improper immune response occurring in joints that are stiffening. Problems with metabolism and blood sugar balance is implicated in joint conditions, as can sedentary lifestyles, a lack of sunlight, insufficient dietary building blocks, and too little time in restorative sleep can contribute to the wearing down of joint tissue. Proper sleep, lifestyle choices, and a good diet should support our joints as we age.

What Can Be Done?

  1. Exercise is important for both the symptoms and to support recovery from daily use. Increased physical activity can help to manage weight and enhance muscular strength, which will reduce the pressure placed on the joint. Muscle is now considered a longevity organ.
  2. Sleep is paramount when it comes to recovery from daily use of joints. A recent study found that short and long sleep duration were positively associated with joint problems in middle-aged and older women, whereas 7-8 hours, or what is considered “optimum” was inversely associated with joint issues.
  3. Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines (and in fish oil supplements) can support joint health. Omega 3s are also found in other animal fats. Plant omega 3s are poorly converted in the human body and should not be relied solely upon. Less is more when it comes to consuming omega fatty acids in adulthood.
  4. Turmeric and Boswellia are 2 herbs with a long history of supporting joint health. Turmeric is a potent antioxidant and very supportive in joint recovery.
  5. Magnesium maintains nerve and muscle function, relaxing the muscle and reducing tension. As a cream it can be applied directly and is quickly absorbed.
  6. Vitamin D3 (the animal food form) is essential to maintain joint health, as low Vitamin D reduces the body’s ability to absorb calcium, affecting the muscles and the joints. Ensure you are making the most of the longer daylight hours and soak up Vitamin D from the best source available, the sun. Keep sun smart and cover up or take shelter in the shade before burning.

Joint stiffness can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to mean that you sacrifice the things you love. There are many ways you can support your body through diet and lifestyle changes, for freedom of movement and quality of life.

See also How to Support Joint Comfort


Can supplements alone relieve joint stiffness, or should they be combined with other treatments?

Supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids can support joint comfort and mobility. However, they work best when used with other treatments such as exercise, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes.

Are there any dietary changes that can help with joint stiffness?

Yes, adopting an ancestrally appropriate diet rich in ethically raised animal foods, along with their fats and collagen, and the fruits and vegetables that you like, can support joint comfort and recovery. For more tips, see Ancestral Wisdom for Female Hormonal Health and 10 Reasons You Should Be Drinking Bone Broth