Do you often find yourself on the way to work or school feeling tired, stressed, and unmotivated? The problem could be your morning routine! Rolling out of bed and guzzling coffee before heading out the door is no way to start your day. It’s time to take back your mornings by introducing a daily stretching routine. A morning stretching routine can help you feel refreshed and inspired as you begin your day. Best of all, you only need ten minutes to transform each morning. Here’s why stretching can change your life.
Start Your Day with Mindfulness
According to Gallup, eight out of 10 Americans are seriously stressed. It’s easy to let those worries take over, especially as you begin to plan your day. A morning stretching routine is an excellent mindfulness technique that can help shift your perspective from negative to positive at the start of each day.
In fact, according to the blog Positive Psychology, mindfulness training can:
- Fight stress
- Boost your mood
- Increase brain functioning
- Improve clarity
- Increase awareness
- Help you feel calmer
- Encourage feelings of connectedness
The list of benefits alone makes a 10-minute stretch routine worth the time and effort. Plus, you’ll also reap lots of other big benefits from your new morning practice.
Improved Flexibility and Range of Motion
One of the most obvious benefits of a morning stretching routine is that you’ll increase your flexibility. Better flexibility makes it easier to perform movements at the gym or in your sport of choice. Good flexibility also promotes proper posture.
Improved Balance and Coordination
A morning stretching routine gives you a chance to reconnect with your body. You’ll feel your muscles and tendons, your fingers and toes. This improved body awareness can help increase your coordination and balance, two keys to preventing injuries and protecting your mobility for lifelong health.
A daily stretching routine doesn’t just make you feel good. It actually makes your body better. Mindful practices have been shown to boost immune function. Additionally, stretching improves blood flow, which makes it easier for your body to send nutrients to your muscles.
Add in improved posture, balance, and coordination and stretching can help protect your health throughout your life.
How to Plan Your Stretching Routine
Now that you know all the reasons why a daily stretching routine can help you take back your morning and your life, let’s get down to the details. Our stretching routine requires only 10 minutes of your time, so set your alarm clock a little early.
It’s a good idea to wear clothing that can stretch and breathe. Your pajamas might work just fine, so don’t feel like you need to splurge on expensive workout clothes. Your dog doesn’t care how you look during your stretching routine.
If you have hard floors in your home, consider investing in a basic yoga mat. You may also want to buy a low-cost yoga block to assist your stretches if you haven’t stretched in a while.
Start your stretching routine slowly. Give your body time to warm up and adjust. Recognize that your muscles may feel extra tight in the morning.
We recommend holding each stretch for eight slow breaths. Move slowly into the stretch until you feel resistance. Don’t try to push past the resistance. Instead, hold for four breathes, release, and then try to push a little farther for the last four breathes. Try not to pulse. You should feel a gentle stretch during each pose, not a sharp or uncomfortable pain.
Our 10-Minute Stretch Routine to Transform Your Morning
Ready to try a morning stretching routine tomorrow, bright and early? Here are ten great stretches we recommend:
1. Stand Tall
Beautiful and simple, standing tall is the ideal first stretch to help wake up your body and transition you into a state of inquisitive mindfulness. As the name implies, start in a standing position, with your feet hip-width apart. Raise your arms high over your head and reach for the ceiling. Close your eyes and feel the floor beneath your feet and the air above your fingers.
2. Rag Doll
Still in a standing position, bend forward, hinging at your hips. Allow gravity to pull down your torso. Let your arms dangle. Don’t force yourself downward. Gravity will take care of it. You should feel a nice, long stretch in your hamstrings and glutes.
3. Downward Dog
This common yoga pose is also one of our favorites. Start on your hands and knees (make sure you are on a carpet or yoga mat). Push off of your knees so that you are balancing on the palms of your hands and your feet. Keep your head tucked between your arms and push back until you feel your shoulders, hamstrings, and calves stretch. You can further stretch your calves by lifting one heel at a time.
4. Child’s Pose
Keeping with yoga poses, the child’s pose is gentle and relaxing. Sit down on your knees so that your heels are under your glutes. Bend forward and stretch out your arms. Your chest should be just in front of your knees. Point your face toward the floor. Feel the stretch along your lats and shoulders.
5. Butterfly Stretch
Give your lower back a gentle wakeup call with the butterfly stretch. Start in a sitting position. Put your feet together so that the soles are touching and your knees are pointed to the sides. If you can, hold your feet and gently pull them toward you. Lean forward over your legs and feel the stretch in your lower back.
6. Supine Spinal Twist
Now it’s time to really wake up your back. Lay down on your back with your legs straight. Bend one knee and use the opposite hand to gently guide the knee over your body. Try to keep both shoulder blades on the ground. You’ll feel an amazing stretch along your back and may even hear a few pops.
7. Lunge Stretch
If you sit at a desk or behind the wheel for hours each day, chances are your hip flexors are tight. (Which could be causing poor posture and low back pain.) From a standing position, move one leg back and lower yourself to one knee. Bend the knee of your front leg. (You should look like you’re proposing.) Keep your torso upright and push the hip of the back leg forward. You should feel a delicious stretch in the inner part of your hip. Raise your arms overhead for a nice lat stretch.
8. Side Stretch
Your lats are wide, fan-like muscles that wrap around the middle section of your back. To give these muscles a good stretch, stand with your feet together. Raise one arm overhead and bend sideways away from the raised arm. You should feel a good stretch all along the side of the raised arm.
9. Chest Stretch
If you work at a desk all day, you may be inadvertently slouching forward. The posture shortens the muscles of your chest and can lead to poor posture and pain. To stretch your chest, you’ll need the help of a wall. Stand facing the wall. Place one hand, palm flat, against the wall and step back until your arm is straight. Now, turn your body away from your outstretched arm. Press gently against the wall and keep turning until you feel the stretch in your chest. Experiment with turning your hand to feel different parts of the stretch.
10. Neck Stretch
Nothing puts a bug in the morning coffee like waking up with a sore neck. Standing tall, place a hand on the top of your head, fingers toward your ear, and gently pull your head down and to the side. Your ear should be moving toward your shoulder. You should feel a beautiful stretch on the opposite side of your neck. Switch and repeat. Make sure to move slowly. Don’t yank your neck or try to force it down.
These 10 stretches can form the foundation of your morning stretching routine. In just 10 minutes, you can start your morning on a high note and take on the day like a champ.
If you want to go even further with your mindfulness training or if you would like to improve your flexibility even more, consider trying one of the many stretch and mindfulness classes offered at EōS Fitness. Check the group class schedule at your local gym today