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5 Stretches To Start Every Morning Off Right
If you want to do one small thing to drastically improve your days, start stretching every morning.
Our bodies are, for the most part, lay still while we sleep, which means we need to decompress in order to release the tightness that accumulates during the night.
Stretching helps with flexibility, range of motion, and reduces the risk of injury. It also helps with blood flow.
As you may know we’re big into better circulation (a benefit of our chairs!) here at all33, because increased blood to the muscle and cartilage helps increase the delivery of nutrients to the muscle and reduce muscle soreness.
Stretching also has mental health benefits. Before rushing into your day, taking the time to wake up your body can help you feel less stressed and anxious, as it increases the hormone that stabilizes our mood (serotonin).
Performing just one stretch is beneficial to you, but doing at least 5 each day that focuses on a different area of the body is ideal. Here are five easy stretches that will go a long way towards having a great day.
Before You Stretch
These stretches can be done in as little as ten minutes. However, it’s important not to rush through the poses, so if you feel you don’t have time to do all these stretches properly, do only as many as you can feel you can hold without rushing through.
And remember, stretching shouldn’t cause you pain. If it hurts, stop immediately – don’t force it. You should be able to relax into a stretch; if that means reaching only a little bit, that’s okay.
1. Forward Fold
This simple stretch is a yogi favorite for a reason. It’s an easy way to release anything your body is hanging on to, and can be a time to reflect and set intentions for the upcoming day. This pose stretches your entire back body, releasing your spine (specifically the lower back) and activating your hamstrings whilst allowing fresh blood to flow to the brain.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart with your knees slightly bent.
- Hinge at the hips to fold forward. You want the crown of your head to be parallel to the floor.
- Place your hands wherever they land comfortably, whether that’s the floor, your ankles, or your shins. You can also hold opposite elbows.
- As you hang, take deep breaths and gently sway back and forth from one side to the other. Try nodding your head “yes” and shaking your head “no,” to release your neck muscles
- Stay here as long as you want.
2. Neck Stretches and Rolls
Perhaps nothing feels as good in the morning as a simple neck stretch to relieve tension, especially if you woke up feeling like you have a crick in your neck. Be especially gentle whenever you stretch your neck.
- You can do neck rolls while standing or seated.
- Slowly bring your left ear down toward your left shoulder.
- Hold here for at least three deep breaths.
- Repeat on the right side.
- Go back at neutral neck position, facing forward.
- Look down and slowly and gently move your head to the left in a circular motion, moving counterclockwise until you’re back to facing down.
- Do this at least three times, or as many times as you like.
- Repeat on the right side.
3. Cat Cow
This stretch opens up your whole spine, waking up your body gently. It’s called cat cow because this pose has you move dynamically between two postures, one that resembles a scared cat and one that resembles a cow grazing.
- Start on your hands and knees in what’s called “table top” position – with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips and your spine in a neutral position so you’re looking down between your hands.
- As you inhale, gaze up, pull your shoulders back and down away from your ears while tipping your hips up towards the ceiling.
- Then, as you exhale, tuck your chin as you look towards your belly and round your back like a cat.
- Repeat for at least five breaths, matching each breath to each movement.
Cat cow is great because it gives you room to play and add in whatever may feel good for your body. – maybe some neck rolls, maybe some clockwise motions as you exhale – the point is to loosen up your body.
4. Supine Twist
No stretching routine is complete without some sort of twist. Twists help massage the organs to release toxins, while also strengthening your core.
We like the supine twist because it targets multiple parts of the body at once: the back, hips, and glutes. It even helps stretch the chest.
Lie on your back with your arms out to the sides in a T.
Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor or mat.
Inhale and turn at the pelvis to bring your knees to the left. Look to the right. Exhale. Take a few deep breaths here.
Inhale to bring your knees back to center.
Exhale and bring your knees to the right. Look to the left. Exhale. Take a few deep breaths here.
5. Mountain Pose
Mountain pose is a deceivingly simple, amazing way to get grounded in the morning and improve your posture over time. It opens your chest, stretches your hamstrings, and elongates your spine.
- Stand with your big toes together and heels slightly apart. Actively hold your arms out at your side at about hip height.
- Rock onto your heels so you can feel your toes lifting in order to distribute your weight to the balls of your feet.
- Spread your toes and ground your feet so you can feel all four corners of each foot.
- Make sure your weight is evenly distributed between both feet.
- Contact your quads to feel your kneecaps lift and your inner thighs rotate slightly inward.
- Pull your navel in to engage your core.
- Take a deep breath , broadening your chest and pulling your shoulders back. You are now in ideal posture.
- As you exhale, relax your face (smiling’s even better!) and reach the crown of your head high to further elongate the spine.
Some people like to begin with mountain pose and end with forward fold in their morning stretching sequence, but we find that standing tall is a great way to greet your day, and can make you feel powerful and ready to get going. Find what works for you!
Enjoy The Rest of Your Day
Moving in the morning reduces stiffness and helps you loosen up both physically and mentally. Stretching wakes up your body gently and gets your blood flowing, which in turn wards off pain and increases energy.
If you want to keep these health benefits going while you work, invest in a chair that lets you move while you sit so you can get that circulation and energy boost even at your desk.