Wake up with these morning stretches
Stretching is one of the most important things you can do to maintain and increase flexibility. It also helps keep you toned and improves your posture.
Not only is it important to make stretching part of your pre- and post-exercise routine, making stretching a morning habit may help eliminate aches and pains. Morning stiffness and pain is often due to an increase of fluid in the joints and spinal discs overnight, which happens while you’re lying down.
In fact, research from Harvard University recommends movement, including stretching and physiotherapy, as an effective treatment for chronic musculoskeletal pain.
Bonitas Medical Fund agrees with this philosophy, which is why the scheme covers the full cost of the successful international Documentation Based Care (DBC) back and neck rehabilitation program for members. The program incorporates the best protocols to improve functional ability with the minimum amount of pain to help prevent unnecessary surgery.
For the best ‘get-up-and-go’ feeling, Bonitas advises spending a few minutes in the morning gently stretching and warming up the body.
Remember, stretching should not be painful. It might be slightly uncomfortable if you’re working a stiff joint, but if pain persists it is advisable to see a doctor.
Here are seven easy stretches you can do in the morning or after a workout.
- Raise your arms towards the sky to get the blood flowing and wake up the body.
- Lace your fingers together and raise your hands above your head, palms facing upward.
- Elongate your spine and feel the stretch in your ribcage and arms.
- Hold for a count of 10, and then incorporate a sitting side stretch to target your torso.
Neck and shoulder stretch
- To stretch the muscles on the right side of your neck, tilt your left ear over to your left shoulder and hold for 20 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side to stretch out your left side.
- Relax for a moment and then roll your shoulders to the back, and then to the front. Then lift them up to your ears, tensing the muscles, and allow them to drop completely.
- Repeat this entire sequence three times.
- Sitting on a chair or the edge of your bed with legs together, rotate your spine from the waist, placing one hand behind you and the other hand on your outer thigh for support.
- For a deeper stretch for the neck, turn your gaze to look over your shoulder as well. Hold for two to three deep breaths.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Stand on one leg with your knees touching.
- Grab your left foot with your left hand and pull it toward your buttocks.
- Do your best to keep your chest upright and tilt your hips forward for a more effective stretch.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then stretch the other leg.
- Since quads are one of the most heavily worked muscles in the body, make sure to stretch them every day.
Upper back release
- Stand with feet hip-distance apart, clasp your hands in front of you, and round your upper back, keeping arms straight.
- Think about the shoulder blades spreading wide across your back. Hold this stretch for two to three deep breaths.
- Holding a wall, door frame or window ledge with your left arm, step forward with your left leg and turn your body to the right especially at the hips.
- Hold this stretch for four to six deep breaths.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Stand with feet hip-distance apart and knees slightly bent, bend forward at the hips.
- Allow your upper body to hang over your legs and clasp your elbows. Don’t hang from your elbows if you have any lower back issues. Instead, place your hands on the floor or your legs for support.
- Hold for two to three deep breaths while you gently shake your head, no and even more gently nod your head, yes.
- To come up, pull in your abs and gently round up one vertebra at a time.
So, don’t just get up in the morning, take a few deep breaths and greet the day with a good stretch.
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