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What is Stiffness?
Stiffness is the term used to describe the inability to move freely without pain or inflammation or the loss of range of motion. Simply put, stiffness is caused by inflammation of either the muscles or the joints and it is commonly associated with muscle and joint conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatic arthritis and muscle strain. Stiffness and tightness can affect many parts of the body, including the neck, back, ankles, calves, hips, knees, legs, shoulders, and more.
What Causes Stiffness?
Many people struggle with stiffness and pain and believe it to be a natural part of the aging process. While stiffness is sometimes the result of general wear and tear there are a number of other possible causes of this type of discomfort and many of them can be adequately treated or addressed with a few life-style changes.
Other causes of stiffness include:
- Obesity, which places extra strain on joints an muscles
- Past injuries which have never adequately healed
- Excessive amounts of insulin in the system (often as a result of diets high in sugar and carbohydrates) which causes inflammation
- Excessive amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, which also causes inflammation
- Hormone imbalance or fluctuations
- Viral infections
- Post exercise where the muscles are adjusting to new demands
Note: If you have stiffness without an obvious cause (such as vigorous exercise) then it is always advisable to see your doctor where a diagnosis can be made and underlying conditions can be ruled out.
More Information on Stiffness
Tips how to manage stiffness
- Stretching and toning exercises are especially important if you suffer from stiffness. These exercises can help to warm and stretch the muscles and are especially useful after long periods of rest.
- Many people suffer from stiffness in the morning after the long rest period. Try start off your morning with a hot bath or shower to warm and loosen stiff muscles and joints.
- Regular exercise to improve muscle tone and fitness can be very beneficial. Choose a gentle exercise that won’t cause pain such as yoga or swimming.
- If stiffness is the result of muscle tension or stress, treat yourself to a monthly massage and learn to manage stress levels better.
- Make sure that you adopt a good posture at all times and check that your furniture such as sofas and your mattress is conducive to a healthy posture.
- Use a hot water bottle or heat pad to provide relief for sore joints in cold weather.