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Most people wake up each morning with a crazy day scheduled and a to-do list longer than their arm. It’s easy to neglect self-care in a rushed and busy morning but taking time for yourself each morning is important for many reasons.
A great way to show yourself some self-love each morning is with this Morning Stretching Routine.
Creating a routine each morning to stretch is important for more than just peace of mind. Morning stretching can help improve flexibility, prevent aches and pains, and can get your blood flowing.
The most common benefit of stretching is increased flexibility. With most people working at a desk these days, it is important to improve or at least maintain flexibility to stay healthy.
Sitting at a desk can cause certain muscles to loosen, such as back and glute muscles, while allowing other muscles, like chest and hip flexors to tighten. It’s important to open up these tight muscles to prevent injury, increase range of motion, and improve posture.
Prevent Aches and Pains
Morning stiffness is very common. After sleeping for 8 hours, fluid around the joints and spinal discs increases, creating joint discomfort and stiffness. Gentle stretching increases blood flow and helps move that fluid away from the joints, alleviating pain and stiffness.
A few minutes of stretching can also keep your spine supple and agile, preventing back pain. Muscles tightness, either from exercise the day before, or from your body’s sleeping position, can be alleviated by stretching and lengthening your muscles.
Increased Blood Flow
Gently stretching helps raise your body’s temperature by getting the blood flowing from the core of the body out to the extremities. Increasing blood flow helps circulation and delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the rest of your muscles and organs. Increasing circulation can also help improve and restore energy throughout the day.
With increased blood flow throughout the body your brain also has increased blood flow. This blood flow to the brain increases concentration and focus for the rest of the day. It also accelerates endorphins to the brain helping relieve stress and anxiety. Stretching can also help release mental tension and improve mental wellness.
Morning Stretch Routine
Instead of hitting snooze in the morning, wake up a few minutes earlier and get this short 5-10 minute stretch in to help start the day off right.
- Neck Stretch – Tilt your head to the RIGHT, reaching your ear to your shoulder. Very gently, use your right hand to increase the stretch and reach your left palm towards the floor. Repeat on the LEFT side, and do a few neck circles to stretch the back of your neck as well.
- Upper Back Release – Place your palms together and reach them in front. Slightly bow your chin to your chest and pull your shoulders away from each other to stretch between your shoulder blades.
- Chest Release – Reach both arms behind you and and clasp your hands together. Pull your shoulders together and reach your arms up slightly to stretch your chest.
- Forward Fold – Hinge from your hips and reach the crown of your head toward the floor. Cross your arms, or let them hang to the floor, and allow gravity to pull you deeper into the stretch. You should feel the stretch in the back of your legs and in your lower back.
- Side Stretch – Stand with your feet hip distance apart, reach your arms overhead and grab on to your LEFT wrist with your RIGHT hand. Side bend towards the RIGHT, so that you feel a stretch through the left side of your body.
- Cat/Cow – Starting on your hands and knees, tuck your chin towards your chest and round your back up to the ceiling, focusing on stretching and elongating your lower back. Flow through a neutral spine and slightly arch your spine pulling your shoulders away from your ears and focusing on stretching your upper back.
- Seated Spinal Twist – Sit down and extend your RIGHT leg straight out in front of you. Cross your LEFT leg over the right and place your foot flat on the floor. Rotate your torso to the LEFT either grabbing on to your left leg, or hooking your elbow over your knee. Be sure to lengthen through your spine and keep your chest lifted.
- Hamstring Stretch – Lay on your back and reach your RIGHT leg up to the ceiling, Grab behind your hamstring or calf depending on your flexibility. Keep your leg as straight as possible and your back and hips completely on the ground.
- Hip Flexor Stretch – Start in a lunge position with your RIGHT leg in front and your LEFT knee on the floor. Keep your abs engaged so that you don’t arch your back. Slightly lean forward to increase the stretch in the front of your LEFT hip.
- Cobra – Lay on your stomach with your elbows under your shoulders and your forearms and palms flat on the floor. Lift your head and your chest off the ground to stretch your upper back. You shouldn’t feel any discomfort or pressure in your lower back.
Tips for Morning Stretching
- Keep stretches gentle – There is no need to get deeply into your stetches or force your stretches, your body has been at rest and has not been warmed up. Trying to force a stretch could cause injury.
- Drink lots of water – After 8 hours of no water, it’s important to drink a large glass of water to help with circulation and the delivery of nutrients to the rest of the body.
- Breath Deeply – Exhale into each stretch and take long deep breaths during the stretch. This will help you relax and will further help circulation.
- Hold for at least 30 seconds – Hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds to help improve flexibility. Avoid bouncing and don’t rush into a stretch, ease into each stretch slowly.
Watch this video– Energizing Morning Stretching Routine to Kick-Start Your Day
Written by Deanna Dorman
Deanna is an ACE® certified personal trainer, Balanced Body® Pilates instructor, and NASM® Fitness Nutrition Specialist. She is passionate about inspiring others to lead a healthier lifestyle through fun workouts and healthy food. When she’s not creating new workouts and recipes for her blog The Live Fit Girls she enjoys running with her two dogs and traveling.
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