Morning stretches are often promoted as a great way to start your day and jumpstart your metabolism. Although that may be true, it’s important to remember your body is in its stiffest and least flexible part of your day. Going overboard or stretching wrong can increase the risk of injury or pain.
Stretching is great for improving your blood circulation and absorption of nutrients, it helps improve your flexibility and range of motion, and it helps flush water and toxins out of your system. All of this keeps your body healthy and mobile, allowing you to be fully engaged in your everyday activities.
People usually stretch after their workout or as a means to unwind before bed, but some people really enjoy starting their day with some spinal joints and muscle strains. Here’s how to do it right.
Don’t Go Too Fast
Early in the morning, your body is just waking up and every muscle and joint is stiff, ready for movement. If you rush through your stretching exercises, there’s a big chance you might pinch a nerve, pull a muscle, or risk even greater injury.
Take your time with every stretch and use your breath to deepen your movements. Let your inhales and exhales guide you and feel your body awakening and slowly getting more flexible and mobile with every breath.
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Don’t Do Too Much
Stick to simple moves that connect with each other rather than creating a sequence with 15-20 stretches all piled on top of one another. Make your movements count and feel the flow as you naturally transition from one to another.
The flow you create in your stretching routine is sending energy rushing through your body, opening your joints, improving your blood circulation, and elongating your muscle fibers, all at once. Doing too many moves that aren’t even connected will cause confusion in your body and your brain won’t be able to process which muscles you’re actually working on and trying to stretch.
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Don’t Compromise Your Form
Even the most flexible people struggle with their range of motion in the morning. Just because you can touch your toes after a workout doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do so after you wake up. This is not a sign of failure or lack of progress, it’s just your body taking its time to wake up.
The more you try to force it, the greater the risk of injury. Be patient with yourself and allow your body to naturally open up and stretch to its level. This will require longer holds and deeper breaths, so be gentle with your body and don’t go past your limits.
Don’t Bounce Stretch
Almost everyone has had a teacher show them the bounce stretch in PE class. Bouncy stretches are proven to be less effectivee and can even cause injuries, sprains and strains. Instead, hold the pose for at least three long breath cycles (preferably longer), and actively work on elongating your spine and muscles with every inhale and deepening the stretch with every exhale.
Don’t Stretch in a Cold Room
If your goal is to do morning stretches in your apartment, make sure to warm up your space beforehand. This will ensure your body doesn’t resist stretching and allows the external heat and warmth to help create internal heat. By keeping your environment warm, you’re loosening up your muscles and joints and giving them space to stretch, elongate, and become more mobile.
Additionally, if you can’t seem to warm up your space, you can try warming up your body with some active moves. Even if you don’t have the time for a full-blown workout, a series of jumping jacks, mountain climbers, and some squat jumps will get your blood pumping and your muscles primed for stretching.
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Don’t Focus on Only One Area
Stretching in the morning isn’t about post-workout recovery, it’s about jumpstarting all of your systems and getting you ready for the day, it’s about improving your blood circulation and stimulating your lymphatic system, and it’s about increasing your energy levels and setting yourself up for a more focused, productive day ahead.
That’s why your morning stretching routine needs to include moves that tackle your body as a whole, from your head to your toes. Don’t focus on just leg stretches or backbends, create a sequence that will equally stretch your neck, back, triceps, and hamstrings.
Don’t Forget About Consistency
If you’re someone who really practices what they preach and want to implement morning stretches to improve their day, you’ll need to stay consistent to see some real results. Nothing can happen overnight, especially a jump in flexibility levels. Schedule morning stretching at least three to five times per week and notice getting better and more comfortable after only a few weeks time.
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Less is more and with morning stretches, this cannot be emphasized enough. Take your time, be patient with yourself, prioritize technique, prepare the room, avoid bouncy movements, and stay consistent. And then finish it off with one of these amazing smoothies and you’ll be off to a great start of your day.