One of the best ways to start your day is to take a moment and stretch it out. Just take a cue from animals, they don’t just wake up and immediately get going, but instead, they take the time to stretch themselves out first. It’s the best way to shake off morning laziness. You will get your blood flowing and can release all the kinks and stiffness you might have developed during the night.
Morning Stretching will leave you feeling invigorated and like you are able to tackle anything the day may throw at you. Keep in mind though that you need to give the body some time at first, so don’t bring your muscles to the end range right away. Concentrate on he parts of your body that feel the most stiff and remember to breathe deeply throughout your stretching routine. Not only will the stretches be easier, you also ground your thoughts to get ready for the day.
Follow our Top 10 exercises and start your day nice and loose.
#1 Hug it In
Hugging it in is the perfect pose to relieve tension in the lower back. Lie face up on your bed and pull your knees into your chest, wrapping your arms around your shins or hold on to your knees. Gently rock side to side and forward and backwards to massage your back. Listen to your body and move it in whatever way feels best for you.
#2 Twist it Out
Another great way to loosen up tightness in your lower back is a spinal twist. Combined with deep breathing it will gently wake you up. Lie face up on your bed with your legs straight and your arms stretched out to the sides. You can either bring both knees in and let them fall to one side while looking in the opposite direction or bring one knee in and let it fall over the opposite leg, twisting at the hip. Make sure that both shoulders stay on the bed and you turn your head the opposite way. Enjoy the delicious spinal relieve for a few breaths before switching sides.
#3 Shoulder Clocks
Use the twist we just did as a starting position, this time let both knees fall to one side and start to make large circles with the opposite arm in a clockwise direction. Keep your arm completely straight and think about reaching with the arm as it travels through the circular motion. Complete ten circles before switching to counter clockwise. Then switch your legs and repeat the shoulder clocks with the other arm.
#4 Hip Rotators
Lie on your back with the arms out to the sides like a giant T, palms facing up. Bend your knees and place your feet on the bed, a little bit wider than hip width apart. Aim to have the knees roughly at a 90-degree angle. Let the legs fall to one side, making sure that your lower back and both shoulders remain in contact with the mattress, if your knees don’t touch the bed, don’t worry about it. The upper knee should fall just inside the instep of the lower foot. Switch from side to side like a windshield wiper for about 10 to 15 repetitions in each direction.
#5 Side Stretch
Sit in the middle of your bed with your legs crossed. Interlace your fingers and bring the palms facing out, extending the arms straight above your head. Without lifting your hips off the bed, slowly bend from the waist to your right side, hold it for a breath and return to the center before reaching the arms over to the left side. Hold it for a breath again and return to center. Go side to side a few times and make sure to pull your shoulders down away from your ears. Alternately, instead of reaching the arms overhead, you can have the hands next to your hips. Start walking the right hand out to the right side, maybe even ending up on your forearm (making sure to keep both sitting bones connected to the bed) and reach the left arm up and overhead without lifting the shoulder. Hold for a few breaths and switch to the other side.
#6 Forward Crawl and Side Sway
We are still sitting in the middle of our bed with our legs crossed. This time walk your hands out in front of you as far as you can without lifting your butt off the bed. Hang out for a moment to enjoy the stretch in your hips and back and then start walking your hands over to the right side, pause for a breath and return to center. Then start walking the hands over to your left. Gently sway side to side for 30 seconds to stretch out your obliques before coming back to center and slowly rolling back up to sitting.
If you have a stiff back when you wake up, cat and cow will bring more mobility into your spine and encourages blood flow to the tightness in your back. Come onto your hands and knees with your shoulders right above the wrists and the knees right underneath the hips. As you inhale drop your belly, arch your back, bring your chest forward and slightly look up. Feel your shoulder blades kissing in the back. As you exhale, round your back, tuck your tailbone under, pull the belly button in and let your head hang. Push the bed away with your hands and reach your spine towards the ceiling. Inhale and exhale as you flow through cat and cow, inhaling as you arch your back, exhaling as you round it.
#8 Child’s Pose
This stretch is probably one of the most calming poses you can do and you stretch your lower back, lats and shoulders. From all fours push you hips back and reach your butt towards your heels. You can have the knees together or a little wider than hip-width apart, whichever feels better for you. Rest your forehead on the bed and reach your arms straight out in front of you or rest them alongside your body. If you want to make this stretch more dynamic, continuously flow from all fours to child’s pose and back again, using your breath as a guide.
#9 Figure 4
This delicious stretch gets rid of tightness in your glutes and that hard to reach piriformis. Sit on your bed with your legs in front of you and your hands behind you, fingers pointing away from your body. Place your right ankle just above your left knee and flex your foot. Slowly bend the left leg towards you until you feel a stretch in the outer right hip. Make sure your back is straight and you pull your shoulders down the back. Use your hands as leverage to push your chest forward. Don’t forget to switch sides.
#10 Hang Low
For this one you have to get out of bed. It’s a great stretch for your lower back and hamstrings. Stand with your feet together – or have them slightly apart, whichever feels better for you in the morning – and with an inhale, reach the arms up overhead and look up. As you exhale, hinge at the hips and fold forward over your legs, bending your knees a lot in the beginning. Make sure you let your head hang heavy, maybe shake it gently yes and no to work out any kinks in your neck. If it feels good, grab opposite elbows and sway side to side like a rag doll. Hang low for a few breaths before slowly rolling back up to stand. Really take your time, stacking one vertebra onto the next to avoid a head rush and getting dizzy. If you repeat this a few times, you will also gently increase your heart rate, which helps you to wake up and feel more alert.
If you are tired of waking up in the morning achy, tight and sluggish, run through these stretches – you can do most of them without leaving your bed – and instead start your day with energy. Keep in mind, we usually stretch at the end of a workout and our body is already warmed up, so maybe taking a hot shower first is a good idea. But if you do these stretches right when you wake up, make sure that you are a little bit more gentle to avoid injury. The goal is to slowly increase range of motion, push blood and oxygen to your muscles and lubricate your joints.
STRETCH OUT IN THE MORNING AND JUMPSTART YOUR DAY
Joschi & Monika