Tight or stiff muscles as soon as you wake up? Osteopath Kemmy Gichaba, reveals 7 morning stretches that will help set you and your body up for the day
Daily stretching, whether you exercise or not is important for a wide variety of reasons, helping to improve posture, aid flexibility and range of motion, prevent injury, and keep blood circulating round your body properly.
Stretching first thing in the morning also offers added benefits. When you sleep, muscles relax, blood flow decreases, and your heart rate slows.
If you are lying in the same position all night, your muscles tend to tighten up, so a quick morning stretch is an effective way to get the blood flowing and wake up the muscles so that you’re properly primed to start the day.
If you are lying in the same position all night, your muscles tend to tighten up
In addition, after waking up from a long night’s sleep, daily morning stretches will aid your mobility, and could even help to boost your focus throughout the day.
Here are my favourite stretches to effectively set you up for the day:
#1 Knee hugs
When you wake up in the morning, your body will naturally feel tight – especially your back as you will have spent a long time lying down.
Simply bring your knees towards your chest and hold
So, when you wake up in the morning try the knee hug exercise. This can be done while you are still in bed and lying down.
Simply bring your knees towards your chest and hold, let go slightly and move your legs in a circle mobilising your lower back before you get up.
#2 Figure 4 glute stretch
Whether we spend the day sat down at our desk, or on our feet, the figure 4 glute stretch is a great way to optimise our glute muscles and mobilise the hip flexors.
To do this move, while lying down, bring one leg towards you, turning your knee out, aiming for a 90-degree angle.
Once your knee is facing out bring your leg closer to your chest for a serious glute stretch.
#3 Rotating the spine
Rotating your spine daily can maintain good spine health which is important for posture and to combat lower back pain.
To do this move, while lying down, keep your upper body facing forward. Then take one leg across your body, having the arm of the same side, straight out.
This will stretch your back and mobilise your spine as well as stretch your pecs, opening the front of your body.
#4 Pec stretches
Thanks to large parts of the day spent sat in front of a computer, it is incredibly common for our pecs and upper body to become tight and tense.
try using the wall to create a wider range of movement and get a deeper
If that resonates with you, taking time for some additional pec stretches can be beneficial.
One of my favourites is done whilst seated and having your arm at a right angle pushing it away from your spine to get a pectoral stretch.
If that’s not enough, try using the wall to create a wider range of movement and get a deeper, more effective stretch.
#5 Neck stretches
Stretching your neck is an important but overlooked part of stretching, especially if you spend extended periods of time on your phone or at a desk.
Stretching your neck is also incredibly simply and can be done anytime, anywhere. One simple neck stretch you can do is just using your hands to guide your neck, rotating it forward, backwards and side to side.
Your hands will help increase range of movement and offer support so that you can feel a deeper and more effective stretch.
Your hands will help increase range of movement and offer support
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#6 Cat-cow stretch
Another great stretch to do first thing is a popular yoga move known as the cat-cow stretch.
This stretch can increase the circulation of your spinal fluid, which can lubricate the spine, stretch your back and torso, and gently massage the organs in the abdominal area to aid digestion and keep your body running smoothly.
To do this stretch, get down on all fours, and as you exhale push your spine towards the ceiling. During inhalation bring your spine towards the floor while arching your neck and do this for ten breaths.
#7 Face and jaw stretch
The pandemic has seen a rise in the number of people grinding their teeth and tensing their jaw as an unconscious side effect of additional stress.
Many people will grind their teeth when they sleep, and for that reason a simple face and jaw stretch first thing can work wonders.
For an effective stretch, place one hand on your jaw and one hand at the base of your skull. Use the hand on your jaw to lightly push your neck back to traction the smaller muscles at the base of the skull that can cause headaches and tighten if you’re prone to tensing your jaw or grinding your teeth.