A good stretch when we wake up can feel amazing. It’s one of those inbuilt human impulses that help us get ready for the day ahead.
Uncurling after (hopefully) eight hours in dreamland can lead to some sore muscles and stiff joints but stretching increases range of motion, improves circulation, and relieves tension.
Doing these stretches before even setting a foot out of bed can also help to prevent falls. Actively focusing on your muscles and limbs may make you more aware of them when first putting your feet on the ground.
Stretching also helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system – also known as the ‘rest and digest’ system – which can help us relax and sets the tone for a calmer morning.
Where to start?
It’s usually recommended that you warm up your muscles before you stretch to avoid injury, but your muscles should already be on the warmer side after a night in bed. So just take a few minutes to flex the joints and prepare for some feel-good morning stretches.
Flex your lower limbs while still lying down, bend and straighten your legs, rotate your ankles in both directions and sway your knees side to side.
Next, sit up in bed. Look slowly to the left then right, draw small semi-circles with your nose. Roll your shoulders forward then back. Bend and straighten your elbows while rotating your wrists. Open and close your hands several times.
Once you feel you’re ready to start, follow these simple stretches.
Some require a towel or resistance band, which you can keep next to your bed.
It’s advised to hold each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds but if you’re in a rush you can move through them a little quicker, or just pick out a few of your favourites. If you have extra time, you may want to hold each stretch a little longer but avoid bouncing or jarring as this could cause injury.
Full body stretch
Lie on your back with both legs extended, hold the band shoulder-distance apart by your hips. Lift your arms up toward the ceiling, over your head and back down towards the bed behind you, keeping the band taught. Point your toes and hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat three times.
Lower back stretch
Bring one knee to your chest and hold it there with both hands, then raise the other knee up. Hold both knees and pull them in towards your chest. You can roll a little here to give yourself a small back massage. Release the knee you bought up first to stretch the other side.
Read more: Stretches that help to align your spine
Figure four stretch
While lying on your back with both knees bent, cross your left leg over the right. Take both of your hands and pull your right knee towards your chest. You should be able to feel a stretch in your glute on the left side. Then, repeat on the opposite side.
Side-lying quad stretch
Lie on your right side with your legs stacked and extended. Rest your right arm under your head. Bend your left knee and bring your heel toward your left buttock, reaching back with your left hand to grasp your foot. Feel the stretch in the front of your thigh and hip. Turn onto your left side and repeat the exercise.
Hamstring stretch with band
Lie on your back with your left leg extended and right leg bent to your chest. Loop the strap around the ball of your right foot. Raise your leg, pulling the towel or band toward you while straightening the leg as much as possible. Pull it until you feel a stretch in the hamstring and hold for up to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side
Supine twist stretch
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the bed. Keeping your back flat, rotate your hips to the left, lowering your legs down to the floor until a gentle stretch is felt. For a deeper stretch, try looking the opposite way to where your knees are facing.
Kneel on the bed. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips. On an exhale, extend your hands in front of you and bring your chest down until your forehead is resting on the bed. Feel the stretch down your arms, shoulders, and back.
Read more: Health benefits of yoga go beyond the mat
Lie face down with your legs extended. Place your palms flat on the bed directly under your shoulders. Bend your elbows and hug them into your sides. On an inhale, slowly lift your head, shoulders and chest, just as far as is comfortable. You should feel the stretch down the front of your torso and across your chest.
When you finish these stretches you should feel more awake and ready to take on the day.
Stretching can release the body’s ‘feel good’ chemicals, lubricate the joints, and help you maintain your range of motion. So, instead of hitting snooze and jumping out of bed at the last minute, take a few minutes to yourself and try these morning stretches. Your body will thank you.
What does your morning routine look like? How often do you stretch? Have you thought about stretching while still in bed before?
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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.