During the night, our bodies get a chance to regenerate and restore. But, lying down for hours at a time can cause our muscles and joints to stiffen up. That's why it is a great idea to implement a morning stretch routine. It lengthens and softens the muscles, warming them up, ready for the day's action. Here are our suggestions for the best morning stretches.
Best Morning Stretches
The best morning stretches are gentle enough to begin working in the muscles and joints without going too deep too quickly. The muscles are stiff first thing in the morning, and we need to take care when waking them up to avoid injury.
Yoga poses such as these are an excellent addition to your morning stretch routine. Hold each for 5-10 breaths:
Tadasana (mountain pose)
Tadasana is a simple standing pose that aligns your posture. It is brilliant for bringing the body into balance after lying down for so long. It elongates the spine and stimulates the nervous system. Tadasana is the foundational posture for all other standing poses.
- Come to stand with your feet together
- Ensure your weight is evenly balanced over all four corners of each foot
- Firm your thighs and your core
- Bring your pelvis to neutral and ensure your shoulders are relaxed
- Have your arms relaxed by your sides
- Imagine a thread running from the crown of your head to the ceiling, pulling your head upwards (this extends the spine)
Uttanasana (standing forward fold)
Uttanasana is an excellent way to stretch the entire back of the body. It lengthens the hamstrings and calves and stretches the hips. Uttanasana also stimulates concentration and mental clarity because it increases blood flow to the brain.
- From Tadasana, inhale and sweep your arms above your head, looking up at your thumbs.
- Exhale and hinge forward from the hips, coming down into a forward fold.
- Point your sitting bones toward the ceiling as you pull your navel toward your spine.
- Relax the arms down, letting them dangle, or clasp your elbows.
- Have as much bend in your knees as you need.
- Lengthen the back of the neck, allowing the crown of the head to point toward the floor.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog)
Adho Mukha Svanasana is a full-body stretch that also strengthens the arms, shoulders, and quadriceps.
- From Uttanasana, bend your knees and plant your hands on the mat, shoulder-width apart.
- Step your feet back 3-4 feet so that you form a triangle or capital 'A' shape with your hips high.
- Relax the head and lengthen the back of the neck.
- Slide the shoulders down your back away from your ears.
- Tilt your sitting bones toward the ceiling and pull your navel toward your spine.
- Straighten your legs as much or as little as you wish, sinking your heels toward the mat. Always keep the knees soft and avoid 'locking' them.
Morning Stretch Routine
For a straightforward morning stretch routine, practice the three yoga poses outlined above in a sequence, increasing the transition speed between poses each round.
- Hold each for ten breaths for the first round. After you have finished your downward facing dog, step your feet back to your hands and gently roll up to standing.
- Repeat the sequence, this time holding each pose for five breaths.
- Repeat for as many cycles as you wish, flowing through the poses, holding each for just one breath.
This easy flow is a fantastic way to stretch and warm the body while building strength and creating flexibility. Give it a try tomorrow morning and see how it makes you feel.