Few things deliver the same satisfaction that you feel following the completion of a tough workout.
Calories were burned, strength was gained, and (most importantly) fat was blasted!
You’re feeling great the rest of the day...and then the next morning hits and you feel like you’ve been pancaked by a steamroller.
Even wiggling your eyebrows hurts!
You were feeling great yesterday, and today, the simple act of rolling out of bed and walking to the bathroom is an exercise in futility.
This has led many individuals to ask, “why am I stiff and sore when I wake up?”
Why Am I Sore When I Wake Up?
Anytime you’re engaged in strenuous physical activity -- lifting heavy weights, sprinting, interval training, or engaging in some endurance exercise -- challenges your muscles, joints, ligaments and connective tissue. It depletes energy (ATP) stores and creates microtears in the muscle fibers. This leads to small amounts of localized inflammation in and around the muscles that were worked, which is necessary and beneficial to the recovery and growth process.
Another reason why you’re stiff and/or sore when you wake up has to do with the fact that you’ve just spent the past 7-9 hours not moving (while you were sleeping). This lack of movement can lead to stiffness.
Mild soreness or stiffness is completely natural in the morning (especially after a tough workout), and it becomes all the more common as we age. The good news is that just a little bit of movement upon waking (10-15 minutes) is enough to ease the tightness.
If the stiffness is more severe or doesn’t go away after being up and moving around for a bit, it may be indicative of a more serious underlying issue, such as a musculoskeletal injury. In that case, it’s best to consult a medical professional.
7 Ways to Reduce Morning Soreness
Provided your morning soreness is the garden variety that most of us experience, and it isn’t related to a more serious condition, here are 5 simple things you can do to loosen up those kinks and get moving and grooving!
#1 Consume Enough Protein
This tip isn’t necessarily related solely to reducing morning soreness and stiffness so much as it is helping reduce overall muscle soreness following a tough workout.
As we mentioned above, intense workouts, like the kind you’ll be doing during your transformation challenge, creates microtears in your muscles and connective tissue.
In order to effectively repair this damage (and build new lean muscle), your body needs amino acids -- the building blocks of protein.
Not consuming enough dietary protein and/or essential amino acids (EAAs) effectively robs your body of its ability to repair itself and grow, which leads to excessive soreness.
As such, one of the best things you can do to help reduce morning soreness is to consume enough dietary protein each day. Current evidence-based recommendations are to consume between 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Some of our favorite protein sources to include are:
- Lean beef
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Protein powder (such 1UP Whey Protein or Organic Vegan Protein)
For added support, you can also supplement with essential amino acids throughout the day or during your workout. Our delicious His BCAA/EAA and Her BCAA/EAA provide the full spectrum of essential amino acids the body needs to support muscle recovery, reduce muscle soreness, and aid protein synthesis.
#2 Use the Right Pillow for YOUR Body
One of the simplest fixes you can make to help reduce the chances of waking up feeling stiff and sore (especially in your neck and traps), is to make sure you’re using the right pillow for your body and your sleeping style.
If you’re a side sleeper, you’ll need to use a different type of pillow than someone who typically sleeps on their back.
Sleeping on the proper pillow for your sleeping style helps correctly align your cervical spine (the vertebrae in your neck) so that muscle tightness doesn’t occur when you sleep.
Beyond finding the right pillow for your sleeping style, you may also need a new mattress.
Now, a new mattress won’t be as easy on the wallet as a new pillow will be, but consider it an investment in your long-term health, performance, and recovery. After all, you spend approximately ⅓ of your entire lifetime sleeping!
#3 Tweak Your Diet
What you put into your mouth has a direct impact on just about every facet of your life, including how quickly you recover and repair.
Eating hyper-processed foods that are devoid of macronutrients hinder the body’s natural recovery and restoration mechanisms and promote an inflammatory state.
As such, try limiting your intake of pro-inflammatory foods (i.e. processed foods like chips, crackers, cookies, fried foods, trans fats, etc.) and replace them with foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and health fats, which contain powerful antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation.
To further augment your micronutrient intake, you can also use a daily greens and reds supplement, such as 1UP Organic Greens & Reds Superfoods, which contains 19 organic fruits and vegetables in every scoop to support immunity, gut health, metabolism, and recovery.
#4 Get More Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin impacting everything from bone health to immunity to hormone production. It also impacts brain function and muscle health.
Despite the importance of this vitamin, many individuals struggle to naturally produce enough vitamin D on account of not getting enough exposure to direct sunlight (for a variety of reasons).
To make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D, aim to 10-15 minutes of sunlight each day as well as consuming foods high in vitamin D, such as egg yolks, mushrooms, fatty fish, and fortified dairy products.
#5 Try Stress & Tension-Relief Techniques
Stress and tension accumulate in our body and mind during the day, which can make it difficult to get a decent night’s rest, therefore leaving you feeling even more sore, stiff, and achy in the morning.
Performing some form(s) of pre-bed stress-relief or tension-reduction techniques may be helpful.
Some of our favorite pre-bed stress-relief techniques include:
- Breathing drills (such as box breathing)
- Light yoga/mobility work (cat-cow, pigeon pose, downward dog, etc.)
Our nighttime relaxation aids contain natural, non-habit forming ingredients that help reduce feelings of tension and stress while promoting feelings of calm, relaxation.
#6 Change Your Sleeping Position
This may seem a little obvious, but the position in which you sleep could be contributing to your morning aches and cricks. If you typically sleep on your back, maybe try sleeping on your side, or vice versa.
You can also try sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees to keep your spine in a neutral position, or you can sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees.
#7 Move Around More During the Day
It’s true that intense exercise can make you sore, but low level activity (such as walking or mobility work) can actually help reduce soreness and stiffness by increasing your mobility and improving circulation.
Regular movement during the day also helps keep your joints lubricated, which can help the body feel less stiff and achy.
If you have a sedentary job, it may help to schedule breaks to get up and move around for a few minutes every hour or two before settling back down to work. The brief reprieve from your work duties will also help provide some relief from the mental rigors of work so that you can attack your tasks with a fresh set of eyes and renewed mental energy.