How to Start a Morning Stretch Routine (and seize the day)
Want a great way to start your day? Wake up to a morning stretch routine! This gentle type of movement is a much better way to begin your day than pressing snooze repeatedly. In as little as ten minutes, you can change your outlook, improve your mood, and strengthen and stretch your body.
What Happens When You Stretch
It seems like a stretch is no big deal, but did you know that stretching is one way your body communicates?
Some stretching is involuntary. For example, when you yawn and stretch at the same time (as often happens upon waking). You’ll see pets and babies doing this often, and you might even recognize this behavior in yourself. It’s the body’s reset mechanism telling you it’s time to wake up. This type of stretching is passive.
However, when you consciously stretch on purpose, your body sends out different signals that tell your body it’s time to realign and recalibrate your muscles. This voluntary stretching sends signals to your brain telling it that the tension in your muscles is changing. It gives you active control over your muscles as you choose to contract and release the muscles during deliberate stretching to improve range of motion.
Both types of stretching help your body reconnect with your mind after a full night’s sleep, and the endorphins released during your morning stretch routine help point you in a positive direction for the day.
What Are the Benefits of a Morning Stretch Routine?
Stretching at any time of day is a good idea, but a morning stretch has special benefits.
- Wake yourself up—starting with a good morning stretch routine is a great way to wake up and shake off sleepiness. Get your limbs moving, your neurons firing, and your body primed to face the day.
- Start your day right—stretching feels great and puts you in a good mood due to the release of endorphins, nature’s antidepressants. Starting your day in a calm, non-rushed atmosphere will set you up to feel rested, energized, and in better control of your day.
- Reduce stiffness—while you sleep, your muscles aren’t being used and can shorten. It’s important to stretch them out when you wake up to help reduce stiffness and warm up rigid muscles to feel limber again.
- Release tension in connective tissues—the practice of a morning stretch routine can also provide relief for tight tissues and joints. Getting your circulation going while gently lengthening your muscles after hours of sleep can bring much-needed fluids into the joints so they can be lubricated and move freely.
- Correct your posture—after sleeping in all kinds of (possibly weird) positions throughout the night, it’s a good idea to reset your body when you get up. Stretching naturally allows your bones and muscles to gently realign.
- Get your circulation going—after lying prone for hours, your system has slowed and your body needs a jumpstart. Doing a morning stretch routine can get your blood flowing again and promote healthy circulation.
- Redistribute fluid that pools while sleeping—standing up and stretching it out can help your body redistribute the fluids that can pool in certain spots while lying down for long periods of time.
- Boost your energy levels—movement first thing in the morning can improve your energy as well. If you feel sluggish, as counterintuitive as it may sound, a morning stretch routine can have you energized and ready to go faster than a cup of coffee.
Do This Morning Stretch Routine
There are many stretches you can do, but try to take five to ten minutes each morning to focus on each area of the body. Always start with a quick warm-up like a few bodyweight squats or walk up and down the stairs just so you’re not trying to stretch muscles that are completely cold.
1. Child’s Pose
This popular yoga pose is the perfect way to stretch your back, shoulders, and arms when you get out of bed. Start on your hands and knees and then drop back so your hips are resting on your heels. With knees slightly apart, lean your torso forward and stretch your hands out in front of you as far as you can, keeping your arms straight. Hold this extended position for a count of five and then return to sitting.
2. Hip Stretch
After a night of lying down, it’s important to stretch out the hip flexors and wake up your leg and glute muscles. Start by standing and take a giant step forward with your right leg, bending your knee until you can’t go further. Hold this position for a count of five before pushing through your heel to straighten your leg. Repeat five times on the right side and then stretch your left side.
3. Chest & Shoulder Stretch
You can stand or sit for this stretch. Simply bring your arms back behind you until you can clasp your hands together. This may be enough of a stretch for some folks. But, if you’re ready for more, try lifting your arms upward until you can’t go any further. Hold this stretch for a count of five and then slowly release your hands, allowing your arms to come front and center again.
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4. Arm & Wrist Stretches
Stand and bring your arms straight out to your sides. First, point your hands toward the floor and rotate your wrists in small semi-circles, feeling a stretch through your forearms. Next, bring your hands up, palms out to the sides as you pulse backwards. You should feel a good stretch through your biceps.
5. Cat Cow Stretch
If you find yourself waking up with a stiff back or a crick in your neck, then this stretch is for you. Start on your hands and knees with your back in neutral position. Next, press your belly button toward the floor, arching your back. Bring your head up and arch your neck backwards so you’re looking toward the ceiling. Get a good stretch and then move your body in the opposite direction: round your back and let your head and neck hang down.
6. Body Twists
Lie on your back with your legs straight, arms out to your sides. Bring your right knee up to your chest and then across your body to the left. Turn your head to face to the right. Hold this position for a count of five before releasing your leg and bringing it back to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.
Other Keys to a Morning Stretch Routine
There are a few easy tips you can employ to ensure you get the most out of your morning stretch routine.
- Warm up slowly since you haven’t been moving much during the night. Give your muscles a chance to wake up, too.
- Try to target each main area of your body so no major muscle groups are ignored.
- Stay on point with your form. A sloppy stretch is not as effective as movements done with proper form.
- Breathe and hold. Try to gently hold your stretches for a count of five and breathe in and out deeply as you do so.
While stretching at any time of the day is always a good idea, your morning stretch routine can offer more benefits than if you waited until later. Tap into this easy resource for optimal health and better daily functioning.