Just why should you be taking the time to do morning stretches!?
Cats don’t need to be told to stretch. It’s something that they naturally do. They yawn, get up slowly and arch their back way up into the air. It’s cute but it also serves a very important purpose.
Cats are chronic stretchers because after long periods of inactivity they need to stretch to make sure their muscles are ready for action. It also helps reverse a dip in blood pressure, and allows blood to flow to joints, muscles, and the brain! And to top it all off, it feels good. Morning stretches can be amazing and make us feel so good, even if it’s subtle.
But, why do the majority of us forego our morning stretches?
Who knows?! Humans have such an inflated ego that we often think we can go through life putting our bodies through hell. We push ourselves to the absolute max, and forget to partake in basic acts of self-care.
I can’t count how many times I’ve spoken to people in my previous job about the importance of stretching. It’s relevant for all walks of life, whether you’re working a physical job or in a more sedentary environment.
Our muscles need to be lengthened, popped, rubbed, loosened and any other adjective you can think of. You wouldn’t run a marathon without stretching your hamstrings, nor would you lift weights without giving your arms a warm-up. why do we expect to get out of bed, after lying still for eight hours, and expect our muscles to just respond immediately?
We shouldn’t because it’s madness.
Why we should stretch every morning?
When did you last take the time to lay in bed and stretch all of your limbs out until they couldn’t go any further? Remember that feeling? It’s lovely and until recently I’d forgotten that it even existed. The only thing I did was jump out of bed, roll my shoulders and arch my back so that it would crack. Stretching, yes, but not relaxed in the slightest. It was done with haste and eagerness to get dressed and out the door. There were no ‘five minutes of mindfulness‘ with it.
Since then I’ve learned that my muscles need time to come into their own in the morning, especially during my time in recovery when my body was doing its best to heal.
Top Five Reasons we need to partake in morning stretches.
1. It increases flexibility in muscles and joints.
When our bodies have been dormant for a long period of time the joints and muscles stiffen so we need to loosen them up before we can properly begin our day.
Stiffness and pain can occur in our bodies when there is a build-up of fluid in the joints (especially the spinal column) and this mostly takes place overnight while we’re lying down.
Stretching in the morning helps us ease and release our muscles, increases flexibility, and makes it easier for us to get out of bed. It’s like sending a gentle signal to your body and mind that it’s time to wake up.
2. It improves circulation.
Stretching in the morning kick starts your circulation which, in turn, kicks start your energy levels getting you ready for the day ahead. The better the blood flows the more your concentration levels are increased and your senses sharpened.
With this in mind, it’s important that we stretch at regular intervals during the day. If you sitting for more than an hour at a time it’s important that you get up, have a stretch, and keep yourself active.
3. It increases energy flow.
As I mentioned before stretching increases the blood flow to our bodies and encourages our energy levels to rise. If you’re feeling a little groggy during the day give yourself a stretch out and see how it makes you feel.
Sometimes all we need to do is take a moment to listen to our bodies and do some simple stretches in order to bring ourselves back to life.
4. It helps to combat stress.
The thought of getting up in the morning for most is like some sort of gruesome nightmare, especially if you know you’re walking out that bedroom door and straight into a stressful day. Stretching in the morning can help remove some of that uncomfortable tension we hold within our bodies.
The act of stretching is so therapeutic, energy-enhancing, and stiffness busting it can help us better cope with the day ahead. It may even make you feel more positive about the challenges you’re about to face.
5. Stretches improve your posture.
It should come as no surprise that regular stretches help to strengthen the muscles in your back and shoulders. With many jobs requiring you to work from a desk, or how often we look down at our phones, it’s no wonder posture is a big issue. And with poor posture comes chronic pain in both the back and neck. So, in order to combat this, it’s important to regularly stretch your upper back, all the while remembering the phrase up and out!
Five Simple morning stretches to start you day!
Don’t want to get out of bed? No problem! You can get your stretches in without leaving your bedroom.
Start by taking several long, deep breaths. In through your nose, out through your mouth, and repeat this between five and ten times. This will help infuse your body with oxygen, and make way for an energy boost.
You should start your exercises by simply stretching your body out. Raise your arms above your head and stretch your legs out until you’re pointing your toes towards the bottom of the bed. Take a few deep breaths while in this position and repeat as often as you wish.
Next, raise one leg into the air with your knee pointing towards your chest, tuck both hands behind your calf and slowly extend your your leg upwards. Take several deep breaths while doing so and keep the other leg planted firmly on the bed. Again, repeat this as often as you wish before moving on.
Finally, it’s time to move towards getting out of bed with a forward roll. Move yourself to the edge of the bed, keep your feet firmly on the floor, and roll your torso forward. Aim to touch your toes, but if you suffer from pre-existing back issues, be aware of your pain levels. Take a few deep breaths while in this position, prepare yourself for the day ahead, and slowly sit back up.
Out of bed stretches.
The following are some simple, easy to follow stretches you can do in the comfort of your own bedroom. These won’t only help energize your body, but stretch out your joints and muscles after a good nights sleep.
There’s nothing worse than waking up with a stiff neck, but this simple exercise will help release the tension.
- Start by slowly lowering your chin towards your chest and holding that position for a few seconds.
- Then slowly lift your chin back to the starting position, before then looking up towards the ceiling. Hold this position for a few seconds before returning to the starting position. Feel free to repeat this as often as you like.
- You can also slowly stretch your neck from side to side in the same manor. Remember to take deep breaths and reset to the starting position (i.e with your eyes looking ahead of you) before moving to each new stretch.
Let’s get the blood flowing into your arms and shoulders! This is one of my favourites and one which I use daily to help release my shoulders.
- Stand with both your feet should-width apart and keep your arms by your side.
- While taking deep breaths throughout, life your arms so they are parallel to the ground. See the image above for reference.
- Slowly rotate your arms in circles, starting small and gradually getting bigger. You can move them clockwise, or anti-clockwise and even alternate for a good all round stretch!
- Continue each direction for fifteen to twenty seconds, and continue until you feel like you’ve gotten the most from your rotations.
Interested in other stretches? Here are some simple Yoga poses for an easy morning.
Do you regularly partake in stretches or do you need reminding?
There are hundreds of references to stretching and its benefits of it throughout the web. I could have listed one hundred things here about why stretching is good for you, so it took quite a job to narrow it down. I’m personally really suffering from the effects of not stretching enough, especially in my back. This is particularly important if you’re stuck at a desk or hunched over a laptop for the majority of the day writing.
Remember to take time to unfold your body from time to time. It’ll thank you in the long run.