Back pain can make simple tasks like getting in and out of bed challenging. Turning over, twisting, and transitioning to a sitting position can be painful first thing in the morning. This creates hesitancy and fear avoidance with movement and can be due to a couple of different reasons.
Movement is great for the body and helps maintain mobility and flexibility in the joints, muscles, and other soft tissues. Sleep is extremely important for recovery but when we’re asleep, we’re obviously not moving around much. Because of this, the joints and muscles can stiffen up and contribute to pain and discomfort felt in the morning.
The other reason pain is often felt in the morning is related to the spinal discs. The innermost part of the disc, known as the nucleus pulposus, is largely made up of water, proteins, and collagen fibers. As we move throughout the day, the discs naturally lose water and height because the spine is placed under load.
When we’re asleep the load is taken off, water moves back into the discs, and the height is regained. This is through a process called imbibition. As we awake again and transition to weight-bearing such as sitting or standing, certain discs may compress more than others and irritate surrounding soft tissues. This is especially true if the weight-bearing position is combined with bending or twisting first thing in the morning.
With all that said, activity and sleep are essential for recovery so be sure to stay active and get a good night’s rest!
Dr. Ryan Donahue was born and raised in Sioux City, IA. He attended the University of Iowa where he received a bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Physiology before graduating Magna Cum Laude from Northwestern Health Sciences University as a Doctor of Chiropractic. Dr. Donahue is a Certified Provider of Active Release Technique, RockTape kinesiology tape, and SMART Tools (Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization). He has also had extensive post graduate training in various treatment and rehabilitation approaches that include McKenzie Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy and Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS).