5 Ways to Loosen Up Stiff Joints and Prevent Pain


Severe, sharp pain in our joints or back will stop us in our tracks.  It’s a sign something serious is going on . . . and we better pay attention!

However, more often our active clients biggest complaint is just feeling stiff.  It’s usually worse in the morning and means they can’t do things as easily as they would like. A big sign. . . they start buying slip on shoes because they can’t tie their laces in the morning.

Often times they think this is normal.  They loosen up as the day goes on or head to a desk job where flexibility isn’t required.  Fact is – bending forward, reaching your toes, or bringing your feet across your lap in a cross legged position are movements that should come easily (and comfortably) any time of day.  If not, that stiffness is a sign joint pain is on it’s way.

A lot of the problem is that people tend to think that if you’re stiff or a little achy after exercise or an activity, the answer is to rest until it goes away.  Unfortunately, this is the opposite of what your body needs.  Ultimately, what keeps away stiffness is movement.  This does not require vigorous activity . . . more along the lines of gentle exercise on a regular basis.

Here are our 5 best tips to loosen up stiff joints and keep your body moving:

  1. Go for a Swim

    If your joints are very stiff or painful, a swim is ideal. It’s simple, safe, and moves your joints without added stress on them. Walk in the water, swim laps, or tread water. Just the movement of your body through the water will ease stiffness.

    Warmer water is a bonus, since it will relax the muscles around the joint to allow better movement.

  2. Go for a Walk

    Although swimming is great for your joints, walking is much more convenient and accessible. We don’t mean a long hike and you don’t have to be out of breath. Think more about fitting walking into your daily routine.

    Walk the dog for 20 minutes in the morning, put on your sneakers during your lunch hour, or pick the farthest parking space at the grocery store. Every step counts!

  3. Prioritize Stretching

    It might surprise you how much stretching can help your joints. Stretching moves oxygen into your muscles so that you are able to move more easily and even increases flexibility.

    Making a habit of stretching a few minutes each morning will help you move better through your day and stretching again before bed will help with pain or signs of stiffness you tend to experience when you get out of bed in the morning.

  4. Choose Standing Over Sitting

    Think of your typical day and the amount of time you spend sitting – at a desk, in the car, on the sofa. Then think of the times you could be doing the same activity standing up. If the phone rings, take advantage of the time and get on your feet.

    If you must spend long periods of time sitting, set a reminder on your phone to take a standing break at least once an hour. You can even incorporate stretch breaks to get blood and oxygen flowing to those stiff knees and hips.

  5. Keep Joints Well Lubricated

    Lubricating fluids in our joints allow them to move with more ease and less stress. Doing the 4 things above will help with lubrication, but since we lose lubrication with age, our body sometimes needs a little help in this area.

    We can support the lubrication of our joints by staying well hydrated, consuming healthy omega 3 fats, and supporting our body with supplements like glucosamine sulfate and collagen when appropriate.

The Take Home Lesson

It’s very easy to accept everyday stiffness as just something that happens, or a sign of getting older, and that there is nothing that can be done about it.  But your everyday stiffness is what ultimately leads to neck, shoulder and back pain if it is ignored.  Something can be done and needs to be done by you.

Move More! The design of our bodies is not for sedentary life.  Our joints require movement for lubrication.  Our muscles need to stretch to remain healthy.  Remember every step counts to a less stiffer you!

If your stiff joints are already achy and painful, or the stiffness keeps you from activities you enjoy . . . it is not too late to make a change. Request a call from one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy who can answer all your questions about joint pain, injury, recovery, and the next best step to get your life back.

Click the link below to speak with an expert today!