Muscle aches at night: what strategies to adopt

Muscle aches at night: what strategies to adopt

How to change your attitude in bed and relieve discomfort by reducing joint and tendon stress caused by incorrect positions

Sleeping properly means waking up in the morning refreshed and operational, ready to face our daily life with energy and vigor.

But if the position in which we sleep puts stress on some body segments, causing pain and disturbing sleep, it is necessary to intervene. Let’s see together how to act, differentiating the disorders affecting the upper body (cervical area and arms) from the lower one (lumbar area and legs).


  • Management of nocturnal neck and shoulder disorders
  • Back pain in the morning: how to start the day on the right foot

Management of nocturnal neck and shoulder disorders

Sleeping on your side, keeping your arm (editor’s note the one not resting on the surface of the bed) suspended and “falling”, can cause prolonged stretching of some rotator cuff tendons, causing pain. In this case, it is advisable to have a pillow, as thick as the distance between our shoulders, on which to rest the suspended arm, keeping the elbow slightly bent. Thanks to this simple support, the shoulder joint and consequently the ligaments find themselves in a more neutral and beneficial position during the night’s rest.

A particular discourse must be faced with regard to the choice of the pillow, an element whose choice, which varies according to the comfort and preferences of each, becomes even more important to intervene in the presence of any nocturnal symptoms in the cervical area.

In addition to an adequate selection of the pillow, if there is resentment in maintaining a certain position (such as that on the stomach, in which there is a prolonged right or left rotation) it is good to look for a change aimed at ensuring the cervical region a greater neutrality, decreasing tension and stressful muscle lengthening.

Back pain in the morning: how to start the day on the right foot

If in the morning, after a night’s rest, difficulties arise in resuming daily activities, with disturbances and stiffness which then decrease or disappear during the day, it is advisable to carry out a short exercise session as soon as you wake up that will allow you to loosen up and reactivate in the right way joints and muscles. Here’s how to proceed.

  • On the bed, alternately bend and stretch the hips, actively bringing the knee towards the chest and rest it extended.
  • With your legs bent, bring your knees first to the right and then to the left, keeping the trunk and shoulders well supported on the surface of the bed;
  • In a relaxed position on the stomach, flex and extend the feet, making a slow and complete movement;
  • While sitting and standing, perform an additional 5 minutes of mild aerobic activity in which to repeat a few movements, such as squats on the bed, alternating raises on toes or walking in place, raising the knees well.

When there is a known problem (such as shoulder tendinopathy or lumbar overload), however, to ensure relief of symptoms and a correct night’s rest, it is useful to insert, before going to sleep, 10/15 minutes of specific exercises for the affected area. Unlike morning activity, evening activity focuses more on stretching to improve flexibility and muscle elasticity. With a mat, hold each stretching exercise for about 20-30 seconds. Make sure, especially the first few times, to do it correctly, possibly asking for the support of a physiotherapist: the adoption of incorrect compensation, in fact, would make the lengthening work useless.

Some small changes to the nocturnal setting and autonomous management before and after rest can therefore be beneficial both in situations of acute pain and in more chronic stages.

by Andrea Genta, Physiotherapist

Category: Welfare
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