Why does my back ache in the morning?


It’s something you might notice as the years go by.

That you don’t need an alarm clock anymore – because your aching back does the job for you! Then the aches and pains are followed by that lovely combination of stiffness, reduced mobility and decreased flexibility. Often, as the day moves on, the discomfort starts to wear off – only to return as if by magic the very next day.

The good news is that waking up with back pain is extremely common. It seldom indicates something more serious. However, saying that, you should always get checked out if you are also suffering from other symptoms such leg muscle weakness, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, or bladder and bowel problems.

Here are some of the most prevalent reasons for morning backache and ideas on what to do about them.

  • Sleeping position – Staying in one position for several hours is bound to cause issues – particularly if you have poor sleeping posture. Endeavour not to sleep on your stomach, as it can place your spine in an unnatural position. If you sleep on your back, try placing pillows under the backs of your knees, and if you’re a side sleeper, put a pillow between your knees. Both of these will help keep your spine correctly aligned.  And don’t forget those pillows and that mattress! Find a pillow that adequately supports your neck – you’d be amazed at how many don’t actually fulfil this basic function. It’s also important to get yourself the correct mattress. As a general rule, medium firm mattresses are reported to give the best night’s sleep for people with non-specific back pain.
  • Chronic low-grade inflammation. This happens naturally as we age, (in the US, it’s known as inflammaging) – particularly when we add ageing to poor fitness, obesity and severe stress. Obviously you can’t prevent ageing – but you may be able to reduce inflammation-related back pain by staying active, sleeping at regular hours and eating a healthy diet that includes a good amount of vegetables, fruit, fish and nuts. Try also, to drink less alcohol, quit smoking and last of all, reduce stress (At this time – this is probably the hardest to achieve!)
  • Vitamin D deficiency. Without vitamin D we are unable to absorb calcium which can cause bones to weaken. Pain from osteomalacia or softening of the bones often presents in the back, legs and pelvis, often occurring when putting weight on the affected area. Lying down all night puts weight on the back – which is why it aches first thing. Taking a vitamin D supplement protects your bones and could potentially resolve the problem.
  • Lack of movement. So you sit at the same desk each day, hunched in the same position – then you lie down in bed for around eight hours moving even less. It’s no wonder that discomfort and pain first thing is the result. The body needs to move – so try to make time for some short bouts of exercise during the day or at least do some stretching exercises particularly between long bouts of desk work. A warm shower before bed can also improve circulation and release tension in the muscles.
  • Existing health conditions. These can include fibromyalgia, degenerative disc diseases and spondyloarthritis. If you have any of these conditions, you will no doubt have your own treatment regime which often includes painkillers, lifestyle changes and complementary therapies such as Osteopathy.

If you’re still insure as to what is causing your back pain – then of course you can always consult an expert! At Lymm Osteopathic Practice, we’re always happy to assist. We can give you a complete and intensive check to find out the root cause of your problem and then devise a way to help.

For more information contact us on 01925-752264 or to make an appointment with one of our Osteopaths