Top Stretches for the Morning
You’ve been curled up in a ball all night and getting up to face the world just seems like the last thing you want to be doing. When you eventually drag your body out of bed, sometimes it can feel like you’re decades older than are. Seriously, when was the last time you bounded out of bed with endless energy?
The answer may lay in the habits you have as soon as you wake up. How you sleep can have a huge impact on your body so if you can take just 10 minutes first thing in the morning you can dramatically improve your flexibility, mobility, posture and mood. What’s not to love about that?
We’ve put together some of our top stretches for the morning to help you on your way. Here’s how to perfect your morning stretch routine:
We’re not going to lie, waking up and getting out of bed is hard. Whilst this may seem like a first world problem to most, the only way to get up and going is to dig deep and find your energy. Time for a big old-fashioned cat stretch. The perk to this one is that it can be done from the comfort of your bed.
Simply stretch out your arms and legs and reach as far as you can, stretching out your entire body from the tip of your fingers to the tip of your toes. A great way to shake the cobwebs and give you a burst of energy to get out of bed.
Cat and Cow
Next up, these popular cat and cow pose – great for stretching your lower back and abdominals.
Begin on your hands and knees in what’s known as the table pose, your hips should be directly over your knees and your shoulders, elbow and wrists should be in line. Don’t forget to keep your spin in a neutral position and your shoulder blades stabilised to maximise the effect.
Take a big inhale and press your chest forward and dip your stomach towards the floor whilst lifting your head to face upwards. As you exhale, slowly move into the cat position: round your spin outward and tuck your tailbone in, releasing your head toward to floor. Try not to force your chin to your chest, the aim of the game is to be relaxed.
As you inhale again move back to the cow position. Move through the poses a few times whilst remembering to breathe deeply.
Your neck has been in the same position all night, or – if you toss and turn in your sleep – it’s been flopped around the bed without proper support so spending a few minutes in the morning to rectify any stiffness will help you throughout the day.
For this you can be sitting or standing.
Relax your body, take a deep inhale and gently drop your head so your chin is resting on your chest, or for as far as you can comfortably reach. Hold for a few seconds and exhale as your slowly raise your head to the upright position. Repeat this move a few more times.
Next, repeat the same breathing and technique but this time you’re going to tilt your head bringing your ear to your shoulder. It’s important not to bring your shoulder to your ear – you’re looking to stretch the neck not contract your shoulder muscles.
Repeat on both sides for a few times then finish by turn your head to its side, so you’re looking to your left or right and hold for a few seconds before repeating on the other side.
To finish the neck stretches, slowly lower your head backwards so you’re looking upwards and hold for a few moments.
If any of these stretches are uncomfortable, stop.
Shoulder circular shrug
An easy one to add to your morning routine and one that really helps to wake the body up and get you ready for the day.
Simply stand with your feet shoulder width apart, spine relaxed, arms down and comfortable by your side: slowly raise both of your shoulders at the same time, release and repeat. After a few reps of this movement, change to a rolling movement; this is where you’ll roll your shoulders backwards for a few reps and then change direction rolling forward.
Kneeling Hip flexor stretch
Oh the hip flexors. They go through hell and back for you and you don’t even know it. Time to show them some love. If you sleep with your legs over the other and your pelvis tilted, for example, the foetal position, chances are you need a good stretch to open up your hip flexors.
Our favourite is really simple to do but effective the same time.
With one knee bent in front of you and the other knee to the ground (a kneeling position), sink into the stretch, which is similar to a lunge. The deeper you sink in, the more you’ll feel the stretch.
Change your legs over to stretch both sides and repeat for a few reps. The hip flexors can take a while to warm up so the longer you hold it, the more beneficial it will be.
There are a few ways to do this one, if you’re loving the laying down vibes then good news is that you can do this one lying down. Grab a foam roller and have it in-line with your spine. Lay over it so your head is resting on the top of the foam roller and extend your arms out to your side, palm up. If you relax and sink into this, you’ll feel your pectoral muscles open up.
However, if you’re already up and raring to get out of the door, you can stretch this area while brushing your teeth. Multi-tasking at its finest.
With your spare arm, simply bend to a 45-degree angle with your palms open and facing forward and hold against the door frame, then slowly turn away from your arm that is still held in position and you’ll feel the stretch across your pectoral. Repeat on both arms. If you do this for the duration of brushing your teeth, that’s a solid 2-minute stretch you’ve fitted into your morning that’s really beneficial to open up your chest.
All stretches complete?! Time for coffee…
If you do all of these top stretches for the morning EVERY morning you will definitely see a difference in your overall mobility. So if you do give these a go, let us know over on Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to know how you get on. Always remember, take deep breaths as you lean into the stretches. This will help keep you calm for whatever your day has ahead.
For more information, check out our blog for handy help and advice to get your body back to fighting fit.