Ever wake up in the morning and feel a little bit like your body is so knotted and stiff, it's like you've turned into a zombie? It's not particularly surprising, considering you haven't been moving much for (hopefully) eight or nine hours. So it only makes sense to give yourself time for some quality morning stretches to wake you up and get your blood pumping before you officially start your day.
According to the American Council on Exercise, morning stretches provide a wonderful variety of benefits, like keeping aches and pains at bay throughout the day. Stretching your limbs in the morning can also help clear your mind, not to mention it increases mobility, decreases risk of injury, increases blood flow, and keeps muscle and tissue as healthy as can be.
As for me, I follow a super easy stretching flow I do each morning that helps get all the juices flowing and gets my body feeling just a little more limber. And, yes, I do start this flow before I even get out of bed.
Try these eight stretches for yourself and see how you feel. It really helps with that whole zombie-body thing -- I promise.
1. Start Slow Under The Covers
Lying on your back, bring your arms over your head and your legs together. Stretch and lengthen your arms and legs at the same time, then alternate stretching out your opposite arm with your opposite leg.
2. Now Shake It Out
I learned this one in a dance class -- it really makes the limbs feel alive.
Shake out each arm, then each leg. Like, really shake it. It warms up the muscles and loosens the joints.
3. Go Side To Side
Raising one arm above your head, and placing your other hand on your opposite hip, first think of raising your shoulder up and “out” of the socket, then dropping it back down.
Then, keeping your hips level, inhale, rising from your abdomen, and stretch your side body. Switch sides and repeat.
4. Roll Right Down The Spine
Standing in place, knees slightly bent, roll down one vertebrae at a time, as far as you can comfortably go. Exhale the whole way, and pause for a few breaths as you drape your body loosely like a rag doll.
Come on back up, slightly tucking your tailbone, inhaling one vertebrae at a time, keeping your chin tucked in gently toward your chest until you roll all the way up.
Roll back down one more time, bending your knees and walking your hands forward into...
5. The Not-So-Classic Downward Dog
Personally, I can easily over-stretch my hamstrings, so consider rotating you hip sockets in, and keep your knees softly bent in this position. If your heels don't touch the ground, don't fret.
Walk your legs in place, then return to the downward dog position.
Alternate lifting each leg behind you, keeping your legs rotated inward, knees toward the ground.
Rotate your hips outward into a tilt stretch on each side.
6. Table Top/Cat Cow
Drop down onto your hands and knees, keeping your back and spine straight like an actual table top. Inhaling, gently C-curve your spine forward, belly toward the ground, lifting your chin toward the ceiling.
Exhaling, drop your tailbone toward the ground, and C-curve your spine toward the ceiling, like an angry cat.
Repeat as many times as you want!
7. Find Your Way To Child's Pose
Sitting on your knees, place your thighs in a V shape, then stretch your upper body forward, resting here for five breaths.
8. Complete Your Flow On Your Back
While lying on your back, reach your arms straight out to your sides, so your body looks like a giant "T."
Bring one foot onto the ground with your heel toward your butt, knee toward the ceiling. Cross that leg over your body, thigh parallel to the ground, reaching your knee toward the ground, being mindful of your lower back and keeping both shoulders and your upper back on the ground.
Stretch your leg out as much as you can, but don't strain yourself. Listen to your body, and do what feels good for you. Repeat on other side, and remember to maintain a steady breath.
Now just lie down, breathe into your belly, and whenever you're ready, go conquer your day.