Instead of hitting the snooze button in the morning, take the extra 10 minutes to stretch. It’s a great way to energize the morning and ease away and stress or tension from the previous day or a funky sleeping position. Try this easy stretching sequence when you wake up to get your blood flowing and your body primed for the day.
There’s a natural tendency to stretch out tight joints upon waking from a night’s sleep, but taking it a step further with a short stretching routine will do more than just loosen you up. The obvious benefits of stretching that you’ll notice are that it relieves muscle tension and improves flexibility and range of motion. In addition, though, stretching can help ease away any stress or mental tension built up from the previous day or after spending the night in a funky sleeping position.
Stretching will also improve circulation, increase your body awareness and give you energy by helping to release endorphins, the “feel-good” hormones. If done on a regular basis for a long enough period of time, stretching can even build strength and improve your posture in a similar way that training accomplishes this.
Before starting this, or any other exercise program, check in with your doctor to ensure that exercise is safe for you to do. Stop any exercise that causes pain.
You should try out a variety of stretches and figure out which ones feel best for you, and then make your own stretching routine around those. The key is to hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds and perform at least three repetitions of each, and to get in at least 5—but preferably 10—minutes of stretching a day.
Greet the morning by raising your arms towards the sky; it’s a great way to get the blood flowing and wake up the body. Lace your fingers together and raise your hands above your head, palms facing upward. Elongate your spine and feel the stretch in your ribcage and arms. Hold for a count of 10, and then incorporate a sitting side stretch into the sequence to target your torso.
Neck and Shoulder Stretch
Doing neck and shoulder stretches in the morning can ease tension that can happen while sleeping. To stretch the muscles on the right side of your neck, turn your left ear over to your left shoulder and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side to stretch out your left side. Relax for a moment and then roll your shoulders to the back, and then to the front. Then lift them up to your ears, tensing the muscles, and allow them to drop completely. Repeat this entire sequence three times.
Reclining Spinal Twist
A spinal twist is a great way to relieve stress in your lower back. Hold the pose for at least 30 seconds on each side and don’t be alarmed if you hear some “cracks” in your spine when you twist into the pose. Don’t force anything here; just feel your spinal column wringing itself out after a good night’s sleep.
Lying Side Quad Stretch
Most people are used to stretching their quads while standing up, but it’s also something you can do while lying down. To really maximize your quad stretch, squeeze your butt while active in the position. Since quads are one of the most overworked muscles in the body, make sure to stretch them every day.
Nothing beats the feeling of this hamstring stretch, especially since you don’t have to worry about falling over! Make sure that when you do this stretch your pelvis is square (keep your hips centered and flat). Think of it as a way to wake up your legs, rather than helping you make it into the splits. Circle your ankles a few times in each direction, too.
Try to deepen every stretch with each breath, and stop if you feel any strain or pain. If you need more assistance or additional stretches, visit Health Plus Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Center, Edison, NJ. Call us at
732- 494-5999 for more information or to schedule an appointment.