More than likely, you already have a morning stretch routine started and you don’t even realize it. You know that big, full-body stretch you do to wake up? That’s a great start! Simply add some stretches to help strengthen your muscles and increase your flexibility—both of which can make a difference in how you feel the rest of the day.
The Benefits of a Morning Stretch Routine
Too often we are guilty of hitting that snooze button, then jumping out of bed at the last minute and racing around to start our day. That is not a healthy way, physically or mentally.
You can start your morning stretch routine the night before by getting a good night’s sleep. To make getting into your stretching session even easier, set up a comfortable stretching area the night before as well. You can even enjoy the perfect mood lighting by installing a Blinds Automation Kit that you can work from your phone.
In addition to helping you ease into your day instead of rushing into it, stretching can also help to:
- Decrease muscle stiffness
- Increase range of motion
- Reduce risk of injury
- Improve posture
- Reduce stress
- Ease anxiety
- Promote circulation
The Keys to a Morning Stretch Routine
Remember, your morning stretch routine is about mindfulness and is hopefully a gentle warming to the day. Relax and ease into your stretches. Stretching should be about feeling better, not causing pain. Stretch using controlled movement and hold your stretches as you concentrate on your breathing.
It is recommended that healthy adults complete a morning stretch routine at least two to three times per week. It should be about 20-30 minutes long, but any amount of stretching is beneficial. Optimum stretch time per exercise is 60 seconds, so calculate your reps based on your hold time.
Try This Morning Stretch Routine
Now that you know why you should incorporate a morning stretch routine into your day, let’s take a look at some of the stretches you can do and how to do them. To truly ease into your day, we’ll go from the floor up.
Prone positions are essential to the McKenzie Method, which is often used by physical therapists in treating people with lower back pain or sciatica. Remember to always consult your medical professional before starting a new exercise routine, including a morning stretch routine.
Prone lying helps relax your back muscles and gets everything in the proper position. All you need to do is lie on your stomach and relax. Your arms should be in a position that is comfortable while allowing a good stretch. Let your muscles “melt” into the floor.
Once you feel relaxed and ready for more stretching, prop yourself up on your elbows. Arch your back and neck to get a good stretch, and hold it while you do some deep breathing.
Move your hands into a “push up” position. Keeping your legs, hips, and back relaxed, press up, arching your back and neck. Hold the position for 2-3 seconds, then return to starting position; repeat about 10-20 times. Remember, used controlled and fluid movements.
Sit with your right leg stretched straight and left leg bent, foot facing inward toward inner thigh. Keeping your back straight, stretch forward, reaching for your toes. Hold 10-30 seconds, and repeat two to six times, then switch legs. Also referred to as the “butterfly position.”
Seated Forward Bend
With both legs straight in front of you, slowly reach toward your toes and pull your torso toward your legs. Hold the position for 10-30 seconds, and repeat two to six times.
Let’s move from the floor to the edge of the bed or a comfortable chair. The important thing is that your feet are flat on the floor with your knees at a 90-degree angle.
Get the kinks out of your neck with about 10 neck rolls, doing five in each direction. Keep your shoulders relaxed and get your ear as close to them as possible for a maximum stretch. If you feel twinges or tightness, hold the position for a few seconds before moving on.
Remain seated, lace your fingers together, and stretch your arms above your head, palms upward, as far as possible and hold for a count of 10. Repeat six times.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
Standing with your left knee slightly bent and your right leg extended straight out in front of you, slowly bend your torso forward. You should feel the stretch in your right hamstring. Hold for about 10 seconds and repeat, then switch legs.
This stretch is also great for the biggest muscle in your body, the gluteus maximus.
Heel Drop Calf Stretch
Not only is this exercise a great part of a morning stretch routine, but it is also a glorious relief throughout the day. The easiest way for most people to do it is to place the front of the foot on a step or incline, then let the heel drop to stretch the calf. You can also place toes up against a wall, and then lean forward to feel the same pull, or do it on a flat surface with your foot behind you.
Don’t forget those lats and obliques—the muscles on your sides. Bring your palms together above your head or hold them out to your sides. Lean as far as you can to the right, then hold for at least 10 seconds. Concentrate on your breathing. Return to your starting position, then do the same thing on the left. Try to do at least three reps on each side.
You will be amazed at how much stronger you feel when you begin incorporating a morning stretch routine into the start of your day. Now relax and enjoy your day to the fullest!