10 Best Morning Stretches to Wake Up Your Body
Why Stretch In the Morning?
Your mornings are busy enough, so why should you add ANOTHER task to your to-do list? Well, that’s a good question. Is it really worth it to get up a bit earlier just to get some morning stretches in? Let me tell you right now: It is SO worth it!
If you wake up feeling stiff and sluggish, doing a short and simple stretch routine (like the one below) can help improve your circulation, release tension, and increase your flexibility. Basically, these stretches will help jump start your body into action with a burst of energy.
Morning Stretches You Can Do In Bed
Before you even get out of bed to start the day (and the coffeemaker), you can get a head start on your routine by doing some easy morning stretches in bed. Yup, you read that right, you don’t even have to get out of bed yet! How great is that?
1. Take Some Deep Breaths
Starting out easy, lie on your back in bed, lay your arms at your side or rest them on your stomach, and take some deep, full breaths. Try to slowly release all the oxygen in your lungs on the exhale and fill them back up completely on the inhale. Repeat this 5-10 times.
This mini-meditation exercise will help you instantly feel more energized as your brain needs oxygen to function optimally. It will also help you feel more focused.
2. Full-Body Stretch
This is probably one that you already do (or that you do unknowingly), and it’s one of the best stretches to do right after waking up. Randi Ragan, a yoga teacher, says that “this stretch will release the tightness in your body that usually occurs after sleeping.”
To do this stretch, extend your arms out above your head, pushing them up towards your headboard/wall, and push your feet downwards toward the end of your bed. Hold this position for a few deep breaths then release. Repeat this a few times.
3. Lying Hamstring Stretch
If you spend a lot of your days sitting, you’re going to feel it in the morning. Release those tight hamstrings with a nice and relaxing lying hamstring stretch. Here’s how:
- Lie down on your back keeping your hips level
- Bring your right knee toward your chest, keeping your left leg on the bed
- Holding your leg with your hands, slowly extend your right knee to stretch
- Breath deeply and hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds; repeat on the opposite side
4. Forward Fold
Last but not least, right before getting out of bed you can do this forward fold stretch as you sit up. This is a great morning stretch for back and neck pain, and it’s also the perfect transition into the next six morning stretches on this list.
Kassandra, a yoga instructor, recommends taking a few deep breaths while in the forward fold position and then slowly coming back to a seated position.
Out of Bed Morning Stretches
After doing the in-bed morning stretches above, you should already be feeling more awake and less stiff. Now it’s time to hop out of bed and finish the final six stretches below to fully release any other aches and tension in your body.
5. Neck Stretch
Having a stiff neck is extremely common and after sleeping is usually when the stiffness is at its worst. To relieve that stiffness, there are a couple of easy neck stretches you can do.
Note: You’ll want to be very gentle with these exercises, make sure to move slowly and breathe deeply during them.
Forward and backward tilt:
- Start by standing or sitting with your feet flat
- Lower your neck toward your chest slowly and hold the position for 15-30 seconds
- Slowly lift your head back up to the starting position, and then lift it slowly so that you’re looking up at the ceiling. Hold this for about 10 seconds.
- Repeat this routine as many times as you’d like.
Side tilt (WebMD recommends doing this one standing up):
- Slowly and gently tilt your head toward one of your shoulders until you either feel a good stretch or your ear touches your shoulder
- Hold the position for about 10 seconds
- Slowly return to the starting position and repeat on the other side
- Note: For an extra stretch you can very gently push your head toward your shoulder with your hand
6. Above the Head Chest Stretch
This one can be done sitting or standing and it will help stretch your chest and arms out. It also feels pretty good on your back! Here’s how to do it:
- Interlock your fingers and place them behind your head
- Gently and slowly move your shoulders and elbows backward to feel the stretch
- Hold for 10-30 seconds
Note: You can also change up your hand positioning to stretch different areas of your chest. For example, you can try moving your hands on top of your head, at the back of your head, and a few inches above your head.
7. Arm Circles
This is a really basic stretch that you’ve probably already done a TON of times before. Arm circles are great because they get the blood flowing in your arms and shoulders. Also, doing this stretch could even help tone your muscles a bit! Here’s how to do it:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms by your sides
- Lift your arms so that they’re parallel to the ground
- Slowly rotate your arms in a circle, starting with small rotations and getting bigger until you feel a good stretch
- Reverse the direction after 10-15 seconds
8. Seated Spinal Stretch
The seated spinal stretch feels amazing in the morning as it will relieve any tension you have built up in your lower back and spine. I really like that you can do it seated as well as it’s just easier that way. Here’s how to do it:
- Start by sitting on the ground with your legs fully extended in front of you
- Keeping your foot flat, slide your left foot towards yourself by bending your knee until your knee creates a 90-degree angle
- Place your opposite arm on your knee (right arm), cupping the knee with the inside of your elbow
- Bring your chest as close as you can to your left leg
- Take your left hand and place it behind you near your bum
- Take a deep breath and, on the exhale, turn your head and body to the left so that you’re looking behind yourself
- Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds; repeat on the opposite side
9. Standing Quad Stretch
This is another stretch that you’ve most likely done before so it shouldn’t be hard to execute. This stretch especially good for desk workers who sit for a majority of the day as sitting can cause tight quads which can, in turn, cause back pain and posture problems. This stretch will also help loosen up your hips.
Here’s how to do the standing quad stretch:
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Lift your left leg up by bending your knee and grab your ankle with your left hand (you can hold onto something with your right hand to keep yourself stable)
- Breathing deeply, gently pull your ankle up until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh and hip area.
- Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side
10. Figure Four
Last but not least, this is another amazing stretch for desk workers as it will release a ton of tension in your hips. You can do this stretch in three different ways too: sitting down, lying down, or standing up. Do whichever feels better!
Here’s how to do the figure four stretch while lying down:
- Bending your knee, lift your left leg up to a 90-degree angle and hold it there with both hands by grabbing the back of your leg
- Lift your right leg up and cross it over your left leg, resting your ankle on the knee
- While breathing deeply, gently pull your left leg towards your chest until you feel a stretch in your right hip area
- Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side
Adding another thing to your list of morning to-dos might seem tedious or flat out annoying but it’s 100% worth it. I used to wake up feeling groggy and just wanting to go back to bed (which I still do at first) but once I finish my morning stretches in I’m ready to tackle the day.
Even if you’re unsure whether it will help you, just give it a shot! Try the first four morning stretches in bed and just see how much better your body will feel. Once you get that first feeling of all your sleep tension being released, you’ll never want to go back. 🙂
Disclaimer: It is recommended that you speak to a physician before starting any new exercise routines! Please keep that in mind before trying these morning stretches.
P.S. Do you have your own morning stretch routine? Let me know what you like to do to wake yourself up in the morning!
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