If you're anything like me, waking up is a rather brutal process. I usually feel like a baby bird cracking out of its egg for the first time whenever my alarm goes off, and the only thing that gets me moving is how badly I'm craving espresso. And while I know it's a good idea to move my body a bit when I get up, I often find myself wondering why stretching in the morning is important. Like, come on, can't I just skip that part of my wake-up routine in the name of a few more precious minutes snuggled under the covers?
Unfortunately for my love of the snooze button, stretching as soon as you roll your body out of bed really is an important practice for the body — especially if you're planning to sit down most of the day.
First of all, spending hours on end not moving while you're asleep is part of the reason why you might wake up feeling kind of stiff and kinked in the first place, so it's important for your muscles and joints to re-engage and literally get the blood moving into them again upon waking. Stretching generally improves your circulation and helps your range of motion and joint mobility.
Second of all, a morning stretch routine will very likely help that terribly groggy fog we all struggle with when our alarms go off.
While you might think you're simply too sleepy to move, setting aside a few minutes to stretch your muscles is really going to help combat those intense feelings of fatigue.
Certified personal trainer Jennifer Warthann told Prevention,
Just a few minutes of stretching increases blood flow through your entire body — including your brain. It wakes you up and helps you feel less sluggish.
A nice morning stretch not only helps tremendously in waking you up, but wellness expert Peggy Hall told Shape that the increased blood flow and oxygen to the brain are also great for improving your mood throughout the day.
This is definitely good news for those of us who have a tendency to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, both figuratively and literally.
Stretching first thing in the morning helps your circulatory system actually deliver nutrients to muscle tissue, which in turn helps your body perform your daily activities with more ease. For example, by the time you show up to your after-work exercise class, you won't have to worry about pulling any muscles or straining yourself — all thanks to an a.m. stretch routine.
Plus, if you're part of the 80 percent of Americans who report feeling stress on the job, some morning stretches can definitely help to relieve or lessen those feelings, as well as target the emotional tension that might be taking up residence physically in your back, neck, or legs as a result.
Making time to lengthen and strengthen your muscles through stretching is also great for your posture, something that often gets overlooked during all those hours curled over a computer.
Convinced yet? If so, it's really not too hard to work in a short routine of simple stretches to combat that morning stiffness and get your blood moving for a good start to the day. Your first movement can even be done while you're still in bed! Simply stretch your arms over your head, and extend your legs out in front of you. Go back and forth for a moment between pointing and flexing your toes and feet to wake up the whole lower body.
Once you get yourself out of bed, try some simple stretches from side to side, with your hands on your hips, or stretching over your head.
Basic neck rolls feel really awesome in the morning, too.
And my personal favorite is a spinal roll; it gets you loosened all the way down the back and into the hamstrings.
Trust me, as someone who would really rather pull the shades back down and curl into a ball of blankets for quite literally the entire day (even on my best day), stretching really does make it all a little more manageable.
Next, let's try an early morning run, right? Just kidding. Baby steps, y'all.