You know that feeling? It’s not a good one!
Your eyes crack open as the morning light streams over the bed sheets.
You take a big raspy breath in and your mouth feels like you’ve just swallowed a dry sponge. You smack your lips together and decide it’s time to move your body.
That’s when you’re reminded that your joints really would prefer not to move at all.
“Can’t we just stay here a little longer?” they plead.
You take a chance and venture a bend of the elbow, a knee. It really does feel like you’re being punished simply for waking up!
Your whole body aches and the thought of actually getting out of bed seems like something that would earn you an Olympic medal.
There has to be another way.
It doesn’t have to always be like this. There are many ways to improve your joint flexibility that you can do daily, by yourself and without shelling out loads of money on medication and therapy.
Here are 5 simple things you can do each morning to make improvements to your flexibility and start waking up with a glorious stretch rather than a creak and crack.
1. Do morning stretches in bed.
Okay, you might be groaning at the thought of this, but there are immense benefits to doing regular stretches before you start your day. You can go from the agonising trepidation of actually moving your body in the morning to waking with ease.
Keep it simple and regular. Simple and regular is the key.
Four morning stretches you can do in bed for arthritis.
Full body stretch
Knees to chest
Full Body Stretch
Ease yourself into it with gentle neck stretches.
Lower your left ear toward your left shoulder and feel the stretch across your neck. Repeat on the right side and continue a few times.
Stretch your legs out, pointing your toes toward the end of your bed. Don’t strain yourself. Just feel into the stretch and enjoy it.
Point your toes down and up and repeat a few times.
Then do some ankle stretches by rolling your feet around in circles.
Now you can move your full body.
Stretch down through your legs again and raise your arms over your head.
Take a big deep breath and gently bend your body toward the right. Bend your legs and arms toward the right, like a banana shape.
Feel the stretch along your left side body.
Repeat this on the other side.
Knees to Chest
Lying on your back now, take one knee and raise it up toward your chest. Hold it in position with your arms or hands.
Breathe into this stretch and feel it across your lower back.
Lower your leg down and repeat on the other side by pulling your other knee up to your chest.
If it feels comfortable, you can pull both of your knees up to your chest for a nice full stretch of the back and shoulders.
Finally, the spinal twist. This pose is not only good for your spinal flexibility and hip joints, but it calms and centres your nervous system too. Perfect way to start the day!
Lying on your back, simply raise one knee to your stomach and gently roll to one side. You do not have to raise your knee all the way, just work within your range. Stretch your other leg down the bed and turn your head
towards your outstretched arm.
Breathe. Relax into the stretch. You should feel it across your lower back.
Then repeat on the other side. Don’t rush this stretch. Take your time with it.
2. Drink water
This may seem arbitrary, but if there’s only one drink you go for on in the morning, it should be water. And yes, before your morning coffee!
Often as the day begins, we jump out of bed and into action or reach straight for our caffeine fix - revive me! But we forget that we have just gone possibly up to 10 hours without hydration.
Drinking a full glass of water in the morning will gently wake up your system and prepare your organs for the action ahead.
The hydration is vital for flushing out toxins and thus helping fight inflammation which can cause joint stiffness, osteoarthritis and a whole range of other diseases.
Tip: Add a squeeze of half a lemon to your water to alkalise the body and boost your immune system with natural vitamin C.
3. Eat berries for breakfast
Berries have wonderful anti-inflammatory properties and what better way to start your day and love yourself up with a bowl full of colourful antioxidant-filled berries.
Tart cherries, strawberries and red raspberries are reported to be the most effective for arthritis because they contain a flavonoid called anthocyanin. These flavonoids are plant metabolites and are full of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities which are just what your stiff, aching joints are craving.
If you want more proof, the berries get the Arthritis Foundation’s seal of approval;
* “Many berries are loaded with antioxidants, ascorbic acid (a form of vita-min C) and anthocyanins and carotenoids, which give soft berries their deep colours.“
“These compounds help rid the body of free radicals that promote inflammation.”
4. Have a hot shower
One of the first things you should do in the morning, before anything else, is jump in a nice hot steamy shower. Kill those nagging aches and pains quickly by soothing your joints with warm water.
Stay in the shower for a little longer and let the water ease your stiffness and limber up your body.
Starting the day with a warm shower will increase your range of motion for exercise and movement. It’s a great way to prepare yourself physically for the day ahead, rather than groaning your way through the morning.
5. Take a morning walk
Before you take on the responsibilities of the day, take some time for yourself and go for a short morning walk. Ideally aim for around 30 minutes to get the most benefits but even a regular 10 minute walk can make a difference to your joints and overall health.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, walking is one of the most important things you can do for your aching joints. Of course there are a whole range of health benefits to a regular walking routine such as heart health and keeping your bones strong, but walking each day can help you lose or maintain a proper weight which lessens stress on joints and improves the symptoms of arthritis.
Consistency is key. So start with 10 minutes, even if it’s just a stroll around your block! Then you can add more time to your morning constitution.
Before you know it, it’ll come as naturally as brushing your teeth each day.
The road to improved health starts with simple, daily habits such as these.
Just start small and give yourself the time to feel better.
Written by Nick Dale
*The Arthritis Foundation (https://www.arthritisfoundationasia.com/best-foods-for-arthritis.html)