Why Your Body Is Stiff and What You Should Do (2023)

Feeling stiff is a common complaint, especially as you get older. Some people feel stiffer when they wake up in the morning or after periods of inactivity. Sometimes stiffness is due to an intense workout or new activity that your body is getting used to. Other times, stiffness can result from poor posture.

There are several ways to prevent and treat feeling stiff, no matter the cause, including frequent movement, posture corrections, stretches, and home remedies.

Knowing the cause of stiffness and how to relieve it can help you prevent and treat this unpleasant feeling so you can function better.

What Causes You to Feel Stiff?

Feeling stiff can result from heavy activity, lack of activity, or specific conditions. The reasons behind these causes of stiffness are different.

Exercise or Heavy Labor

When you exercise or perform heavy labor, especially when your body is not used to the intensity or duration of the activity, your muscles can incur tiny tears. These tears are normal and actually help you build larger and stronger muscles as a result. You may feel stiff and sore for 24-72 hours after you exercise as your body repairs itself.

Another reason for stiffness is the inflammation of the fluid surrounding your joints (synovial fluid) after heavy activity or repetitive movements.


As you move around during the day, the synovial fluid that lubricates your joints is secreted. When movement stops, such as during sleep or long periods spent sitting while working or watching TV, the fluid doesn’t secrete as much to facilitate joint and bone movement.

This lack of fluid after movement can leave you feeling stiff when you try to return to activity.

Poor Posture

If you routinely hold your body in a way that places strain on your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, you can end up feeling stiff and sore. Sitting or standing incorrectly due to a poor work setup or postural habits contributes to any stiffness you may be feeling.

(Video) Muscle Tightness Explained: Why do my muscles feel tight?

Medical Conditions

There are medical conditions that can cause you to feel stiff such as rheumatoid arthritis, Lyme disease, thyroid disease, strains and sprains, and low levels of vitamin D. If you suspect any medical causes behind your stiffness, seek medical attention.

Some causes of stiffness require medical attention. If you areexperiencingincreased feelings of stiffness, pain, have been bitten by an insect, have signs of infection, or are concerned about how you feel, speak to a health care professional.

Preventing Stiffness

Depending on the reason behind your stiffness, there are ways to prevent it.


Warming up before activity may help prevent some post-workout stiffness. While some soreness and stiffness are likely inevitable and part of the muscle repair process that builds mass, a proper warm-up could tame the worst of it.

10 Best Warm-Up Exercises to Do Before You Work Out

Take Mobility Breaks

Taking breaks from inactivity by getting up and moving around, walking, or performing mobility movements could increase the secretions of joint fluid, prevent stiffness, and relieve the effects of poor postural habits you may have been making.

Try setting a timer during your workday to break up periods of inactivity—getting up for 5 minutes once an hour is a small but noteworthy habit.

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Stay Active

Although workouts can lead to stiffness, they can also reduce it. Exercise helps reduce inflammation, increases the secretion of synovial fluid to lubricate your joints, and helps build the muscles that support proper posture.

Take Active Recovery Days

Participating in active recovery work can help bring blood flow to the muscles and prevent inflammation that leads to stiffness. Try light cardio such as swimming, cycling, or walking, or bodyweight movements.

What Is Active Recovery and When Should You Use It in a Workout?

Watch Your Posture

Being aware of your postural habits can help prevent muscle strain that leads to stiffness.

Making adjustments to your workspace and posture might prevent stiffness, such as making sure your posterior chain—head, neck, torso, and legs are stacked (or aligned) and keeping your computer at eye level with your feet flat on the floor and back supported by your chair.


Adjust Your Diet

A diet that reduces inflammation, such as the Mediterranean diet, or one that similarly includes healthy fats, plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, seafood, and whole grains, may help to reduce some causes of stiffness. Additionally, getting enough vitamin D might reduce feelings of stiffness.

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How to Relieve Stiffness

If preventative measures aren't enough, there are several ways you can relieve feelings of stiffness at home, including stretches and mobility work, types of self-massage, and natural remedies.

Stretches and Mobility Work

While any stretching or mobility exercises can be beneficial, try these specific movements for relief in the most common areas of stiffness such as the hips, lower back, shoulders, and neck.

  • Cat-Cow
  • Hip flexor lunge stretch
  • Low lunge twist
  • Reclined hip stretch
  • Pigeon pose
  • Thread the needle
  • Neck rolls
  • Anterior shoulder stretch
  • Pelvic tilt
  • Child’s pose
  • Inchworm

10 Best Stretches for Office Workers


Using massage techniques can reduce muscle soreness and stiffness after exercise. You can get a professional sports massage or try different techniques at home.

Massage guns, for instance, may help relieve muscle soreness on par with a regular type of massage. For best results, try using a massage gun immediately after your workout, rather than once you feel the stiffness set in.

How to Use a Massage Gun on Specific Body Parts

You can also try using a foam roller, which is a way of mimicking a sports massage at home, breaking uptight, stiff muscles and adhesions of tissues called fascia (myofascial release).

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Tissueadhesions, or knots, are common no matter your age or level of fitness. They can possibly impede blood and nutrient transport to the muscle fiber, which can cause pain or injury.

How to Use a Foam Roller After a Workout

Natural Remedies

Some other natural treatments for stiffness include heat and herbal therapies. Speak to a health care professional before taking any supplements.

  • Saunas have been shown to reduce perceived stiffness in those with rheumatoid arthritis. They may help those without arthritis to feel less tense and stiff as well. Far infrared saunas are still being researched, but some studies suggest they can help relieve pain and inflammation while promoting recovery.
  • Hydrotherapy such as a hot bath, shower, or whirlpool session can be an excellent way to relieve stiffness and tension. Alternating between 1-min hot (38°C) and 1-min cold (15°C) for 6, 12, or 18 minutes can reduce soreness, pain, and stiffness.
  • Boswellia is an herb that has been shown to have the potential to relieve stiffness and inflammation.
  • Turmeric has similarly been studied for its ability to relieve inflammation and feelings of stiffness.
  • Yoga and pilates may help encourage better posture and flexibility, as well as increase movement in a gentle, low-impact way that reduces stiffness.

How to Get Started With Yoga

When to See a Doctor

It’s vital to see a health care professional right away if your stiffness is due to an injury, accompanied by pain, won’t go away with home treatments, or if you suspect an insect bite or infection. If your stiffness is frequent and interferes with your quality of life, you should speak to a health care professional.

A Word From Verywell

Most of the time, stiffness can be treated at home and reduced through preventative measures. Make sure to keep active, but not go too hard while you are getting used to the activity. If you find yourself feeling stiff, try the various relief methods, such as a warm bath or self-massage. If you are experiencing prolonged stiffness, pain, signs of infection, or if you’ve experienced an injury or insect bite, seek medical attention.

(Video) The Top 13 Causes of Inflammation: And How to Treat It Naturally

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What is the reason of stiffness in body? ›

Muscle stiffness often arises after changing exercise routines, overusing muscles, or being physically inactive for long periods of time. Otherwise, muscle stiffness can be caused by an underlying condition, including myopathy, neuromuscular disorders, and neurologic disorders.

How do you get rid of stiffness in your body? ›

Stretches and Mobility Work

While any stretching or mobility exercises can be beneficial, try these specific movements for relief in the most common areas of stiffness such as the hips, lower back, shoulders, and neck.

Why am I so stiff and not flexible? ›

Sometimes stiffness is due to an intense workout or new activity that your body is getting used to. Other times, stiffness can result from poor posture. There are several ways to prevent and treat feeling stiff, no matter the cause, including frequent movement, posture corrections, stretches, and home remedies.

What deficiency causes muscle stiffness? ›

A deficiency in magnesium is most likely to cause muscle stiffness because this nutrient is needed to keep muscles flexible and moving efficiently, as well as relaxed.

What deficiency causes joint stiffness? ›

People who have low levels of vitamin D often have joint pain. Vitamin D supplements may treat joint pain in some people who have a vitamin D deficiency.

What vitamin is good for stiffness? ›

Several nutritional supplements have shown promise for relieving pain, stiffness and other arthritis symptoms. Glucosamine and chondroitin, omega-3 fatty acids, SAM-e and curcumin are just some of the natural products researchers have studied for osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

What foods help with body stiffness? ›

Here's our take on 10 foods that may help reduce pain and increase mobility in the joints:
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids / Fish Oils. ...
  • Nuts and Seeds. ...
  • Brassica Vegetables. ...
  • Colorful Fruits. ...
  • Olive Oil. ...
  • Lentils and Beans. ...
  • Garlic and Root Vegetables. ...
  • Whole Grains.
Jul 21, 2021

Why can I hardly walk when I first get up? ›

As you sleep, the plantar fascia remains still rather than stretching and relaxing as it would if you were awake and moving. Because it doesn't get to stretch, it slowly constricts and becomes tighter. This can make walking in the morning quite painful until the ligament has a chance to loosen up from being active.

What are 3 causes of poor flexibility? ›

Many variables affect the loss of normal joint flexibility including injury, inactivity or a lack of stretching. The range of motion will be influenced by the mobility of the soft tissues that surround the joint. These soft tissues include: muscles, ligaments, tendons, joint capsules, and skin.

Why am I stiff when I get up from sitting? ›

Time of day. In addition to sleeping posture, research shows that joint stiffness may be more severe in the morning when a person first wakes up due to a correlation between inflammation and a person's circadian clock. This is more likely in cases of joint stiffness resulting from rheumatoid arthritis.

What foods cause body stiffness? ›

How are diet and pain connected?
  • Heavily processed foods that include lots of sugar and/or trans fats (including cookies, donuts, and margarine)
  • Potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and other members of the nightshade family.
  • Caffeinated foods and drinks.
  • White bread or other highly-processed carbs.
  • Alcohol.

What hormone causes muscle stiffness? ›

Extended high levels of cortisol in the face of low oestrogen levels causes the muscles in the body to tighten and become fatigued. Progesterone has a calming effect on the body and mind. When levels of progesterone begin to drop prior to menopause, muscles tend to become tense.

What vitamins help with stiff muscles and joints? ›

Supplements and Medications To Help Joint Pain
  • Vitamin D. The number one supplement I recommend for joint health and overall musculoskeletal health is vitamin D3. ...
  • Estrogen. Estrogen is important for musculoskeletal health, including joint health. ...
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate. ...
  • MSM. ...
  • Turmeric. ...
  • Omega 3. ...
  • Ginger. ...
  • SAMe.
Sep 27, 2018

What vitamin helps lubricate joints? ›

Vitamins for cracking knees and popping joints may not seem like the top priority when it comes to effective treatment, but they can improve joint function and relieve pain. These nutrients include glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, bromelain, collagen, vitamin C, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids.

What's the best vitamin for joints? ›

Healthy joints benefit from the following vitamins and supplements.
  • Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a vitamin and antioxidant studied for its effects on arthritis and joint health. ...
  • Vitamin K. ...
  • Glucosamine. ...
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids. ...
  • Curcumin. ...
  • The Bottom Line.
May 1, 2022

Can low vitamin D cause stiffness? ›

Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency can cause or worsen neck and back pain and muscle spasm.

Can a very stiff person become flexible? ›

Even if you've had trouble before in your flexibility training and it seems that you haven't gained an inch, no matter how stiff you are, you absolutely can improve your flexibility. In most cases, it's just a matter of making the appropriate adjustments for you and practicing consistently.

What makes a person not flexible? ›

Aging is a major factor when it comes to flexibility. As you age, your muscles and joints become stiffer and less flexible. Also, having an inactive lifestyle and not stretching regular throughout your life can accelerate your inflexibility as you age.

Can a naturally inflexible person become flexible? ›

Even the most inflexible person can become flexible if they are willing to put the work into it. Flexibility is a skill that you can work on and improve at any age, you just need to believe that you can do it first.

How long does it take for stiff body to get flexible? ›

You should begin to notice a difference in how flexible you are within two to four weeks. However, that's only if you practice stretching at least five days every week. You also want to practice an array of stretches so that your whole body feels the burn.


1. Why Your Joints & Muscles Get Stiff, Sore, and Painful - Dr Mandell
2. How To Cure Back Stiffness In The Morning
3. 6 Things Muscles Tell You About Your Nutrient Status
(Dr. Eric Berg DC)
4. Get rid of stiffness in your body
(KCTV5 News)
5. How to Relieve Muscle Soreness and Recover FAST (4 Science-Based Tips)
(Jeremy Ethier)
6. 10 Minute Yoga Full Body Stretch for Stiff Bodies
(Yoga With Bird)
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