8 Morning Stretches to Improve Strength and Flexibility
Stretching is one of the best things you could ever do for your body. And what a better way than to start your day off with morning stretches that’ll have a lasting effect for longer than just the day.
There are a number of benefits associated with stretching, such as improved posture, stress relief, injury prevention, increased flexibility and range of motion, and so much more.
Many people, such as individuals with desk jobs, or who spend a majority of their time in front of a computer for extended periods of time develop poor posture. This is often the result of overstretched back muscles and tight chest muscles.
By stretching in the morning, you can focus on opening up and stretching these muscles. As your muscles become more and more flexible, changes in your posture will become evident.
These morning stretches will help eliminate aches and pains you might experience upon waking up. Pain and stiffness are common in the morning, because there is an increase of fluid in the joints and spinal discs while the body lies horizontally overnight. Stretching in the morning will help move this fluid, as well as increase blood flow all throughout the body. As a result, you’ll have lasting energy that will power you through your day.
As with most stretching, be gentle with your body, and take your time. Don’t forget to breathe and become present with your body. Enjoy!
1. Door Stretch
This is a great stretch to open up the front of the chest and relax the muscles in the back of the torso.
1. While standing in a doorway, place your arms up on the door jam and place on foot forward through the doorway.
2. Your upper arms should be horizontal to the ground and the forearms should lie up along the door frame.
3. Bend your front knee until a stretch is felt along the front of your chest and/or shoulders.
4. Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat 2-3 times.
2. Standing Side Stretch
This stretch targets the upper back, core and shoulders. It helps increase the range of motion of your back, shoulders and core.
1. Stand with your feet together, and your arms straight overhead. Clasp your hands together, with your fingers interlaced and pointer fingers extended.
2. Inhale as you reach upward, and breathe out as you bend your upper body to the right.
3. Take 5 slow breaths, and slowly return to the centre. Repeat on the left side.
4. Do 3-4 repetitions, back and forth, taking your time.
3. Standing Hamstring Stretch
A great stretch for the hamstrings, which can help with lower back pain.
1. Put your left heel up on a surface that is a little lower than your hip, such as a bed, chair, or bench. Flex your foot.
2. Increase the stretch by bending forward toward your flexed foot by folding at the hips.
3. Hold for 30 seconds, and then switch legs.
4. Standing Forward Bend
This stretch helps release tight hamstrings and relaxes the whole length of the spine.
1. Standing with your feet hip-distance apart, and knees slightly bent, hinge forward at your hips.
2. Allow your upper body to hang over your legs and clasp your elbows (if you have any lower back issues, place your hands on the floor for support).
3. Hold for 3-4 deep breaths. You can rock yourself from side to side, and gently shake your head no.
4. Come up by pulling in your abs and gently round your vertebrae up one at a time. Repeat 2 times.
5. Elevated Pigeon Stretch
This stretch opens up your hips, which can help fix lower back pain.
1. Lift your left leg, knee bent, onto the bed. Square off your hips and make sure the front knee is outside of the front shoulder.
2. Keeping your tailbone untucked and spine straight, hinge forward at the hips, placing your hands on the bed for extra support.
3. Hold for 5-6 deep breaths, and then switch sides.
6. Cat & Cow
This pose develops flexibility in the whole spine. It strengthens and lengthens the back torso and the neck, and can open and create space in the entire neck.
1. Start with your hands and knees on the floor, palms directly under the shoulder rand knees directly below the hips.
2. Breathe in and pull your abdominal muscles in as you arch your back up like a stretching cat. Let your head and tailbone drop down toward the floor.
3. Return to the initial position, and then extend the upper part of the spine upwards, supporting it with your abdominal muscles and not letting your neck sink into your shoulders, or your shoulders crunch up into your neck. Make sure your neck is a long extension of your spine, and don’t let the head fall back.
4. Return to starting position and repeat 5 times.
7. Clasped Hand Chest Stretch
This stretch helps to open the chest by stretching the front, shoulders and upper arms all at once.
1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart.
2. Clasp your hands behind your back, and if you’re unable to do this, hold a towel or strap and place your hands as close together as you can.
3. Raise your arms upwards behind you, while bending at the waist.
4. Let your head hang loose and raise your arms as far overhead as you can. Keep your hands clasped and touch your palms together if you can.
5. Hold for 30 seconds and then release. Repeat 3 more times.
8. Straight Leg Calf Stretch
This stretch helps to release the calf muscles, which often become tight after waking up in the morning.
1. Stand facing a wall with your arms straight in front of you and your hands flat against the wall.
2. Keep your right leg forward, foot flat on the floor, and extend the left leg back, placing your heel flat on the floor.
3. Lean into the wall, without bending your back knee. Wait until you feel the stretch in the calf of the straight leg.
4. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides. Repeat 2 times each leg, for 3 sets