Getting out of bed in the morning isn't always easy. It's even more difficult to stay active. As winter approaches, many people are staying indoors due to inclement weather, while others choose to self-isolate due to the pandemic.

Some days you may wake up feeling sluggish, with aching muscles, and the need for a good massage – these are all signs that your body requires more movement.

Why Should You Stretch First Thing in the Morning?

Stretching can help relieve muscle pain and prepare you for the day ahead. Stretching, along with light cardio, has been shown in some studies to help your body relax and improve flexibility. Back pain can be relieved and other long-term health conditions can be managed by keeping your body loose.

You'll not only stretch your entire body and muscle groups by including these 7 morning stretches in your morning routine, but you'll also prepare yourself for the day ahead.

Child's Pose

The lower body and spine are stretched out in child's pose. These areas can feel a little tight in the morning for many people. You can instil a sense of calm within yourself by stretching. This can be done at any time during the day if you're feeling overwhelmed.

How to do it:

  • Kneel with your toes together and your knees hip-width apart on the floor.
  • Place your palms on top of your thighs and relax.
  • Exhale and lower your torso out, extending your arms with palms facing down as you do so.
  • Take a few deep breaths and relax your shoulders.
  • Rest as long as you need in this stretch before getting back up, shaking out the muscles, and repeating.

Cat-Cow Pose

The Cat-Cow stretch involves moving your spine from a rounded to an arched position, with a strong emphasis on breathwork to help improve circulation around your back discs. It's a simple pose with a lot of benefits, especially if you have back pain or spend a lot of time sitting at a desk.

How to do it:

  • Begin on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  • Exhale while rounding your spine (like a startled cat), keeping your wrists and knees in place.
  • Return to the central position on your hands and knees as you inhale.
  • Repeat as many times as necessary, holding for 10-20 seconds each time.

Quad Stretch

Stretching the quadriceps (or thigh) muscles improves flexibility in the upper leg and hips while also increasing blood flow. Most people stretch their quads before they exercise, but it's also a great morning stretch to add to your routine.

How to do it:

  • Stand on one leg, and if you're having trouble keeping your balance, grab a chair or a table for support.
  • Bend one knee and bring your heel to your bottom, your hand holding your ankle.
  • Squeeze your abdominal muscles while standing tall, keeping your shoulders relaxed and your knees as close together as possible – you should feel a slight pull in the front of your thigh.
  • Hold the stretch for as long as possible, ideally 30 seconds, before moving on to the other leg.

Cobra Pose

The Cobra Stretch is a great stretch for the hip flexors, abdominal muscles, and cervical flexors (muscles that run along the front of your thigh and pelvis) (at the front of the neck).

It's a great stretch for people who sit at a desk all day because it helps to counteract the rounded shapes our bodies take when we're hunched over a computer. It's a simple stretch that's taught to students of all levels of Yoga.

How to do it:

  • Lie down on your stomach, spread your legs and feet to hip width, and point your toes so that the tops of your feet are on the floor.
  • Place your hands on the floor next to your ribs and tuck your elbows in by your side.
  • Inhale and gently lift your chest off the floor, keeping your neck and shoulders relaxed.
  • Hold this stretch for 15-20 seconds before lowering back down and repeating a few times until your body resembles a Cobra.

Stretch your neck

You are not alone if you have neck pain. One of the most common complaints among Americans is neck pain. Many of the symptoms associated with neck pain, including headaches, can be alleviated by stretching first thing in the morning.

How to do it:

  • If you're standing or sitting, make sure your shoulders are relaxed.
  • If you're having trouble, gently move your right ear towards your right shoulder, using your arm to assist you.
  • Hold for 10 seconds after stretching until it's comfortable for you.
  • Rep on the opposite side.

Stretch your knees to your chest

Lower back pain sufferers will benefit from a knee to chest stretch. Say goodbye to discomfort and hello to a satisfying stretch! It not only relaxes the muscles in your lumbar spine, but it also relieves pressure on the spinal nerves.

How to do it:

  • Lie down on your back.
  • Raise one leg and bend your knee at a right angle.
  • To keep your leg stretch, pull one knee towards your chest and interlock your fingers.
  • Hold for 10-20 seconds – you should feel your lower back and hips working.
  • Repeat a few times on each leg.

Stretch your hamstrings

Hamstring stretches have a number of advantages, including improved posture, a stronger lower back, and increased hip flexibility. It's not a bad way to start the day.

Warming up your hamstrings is especially important if you stand for long periods of time at work. Legs are prone to stiffening, which can result in injuries. This morning stretch will help you keep your legs loose.

How to do it:

  • As if you're about to sit down, stand up and slowly bend one knee.
  • Place the opposite leg straight out in front of you, toes pointing up at the ceiling.
  • Slightly forward-tilt your hips until you feel a stretch in your extended leg.
  • Hold for 20 seconds before repeating on the opposite side.

Tips to Stretch Safely

It's critical to listen to your body if you're new to stretching or exercise. Don't worry if you don't get these 7 stretches exactly right the first time; practice makes perfect. Your flexibility will quickly improve if you incorporate them into your morning routine on a regular basis.

If you have an existing injury or mobility issues, you should always seek medical advice first so that they can recommend a morning stretching routine that is right for you.

Stretching safely in the morning is easy if you follow our top tips:

  • Warm Up Your Body – As tempting as it is to stretch first thing in the morning, you should first warm up your body. It could be as simple as marching for 5 minutes on the spot or dancing while brushing your teeth.
  • Stop stretching if you're in pain – that's right, you shouldn't be stretching so much that it hurts. Stretch until you feel a small amount of tension, hold for a few seconds, then reset and try again. With each stretch, your flexibility will improve.
  • Practice good form by watching tutorials and paying close attention to the way they do things. If you stretch incorrectly, you will cause more damage to your muscles in the long run, and you may even injure yourself. Get out of the stretch when you feel your form begin to slip, shake it out, and try again.
  • Focus on the Stretch – It may appear to be a simple exercise, but you will get the most benefit from it if you connect your body to the stretch. Consider working this side a little harder to balance it out if you're tighter on one side.
  • Breathe – When stretching, many people forget to breathe properly because they are so focused on getting the movement just right. Concentrate on your inhale and exhale rhythm with each movement while stretching. When moving your body during stretches, do not hold your breath; your muscles and brain require oxygen.
  • Stretch on a regular basis – the more you stretch, the more benefits you will reap. We've put together a list of the best 7 morning stretches to include in your routine, but there are plenty more you can do.
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