Wake Up & Stretch: 8 Morning Stretches to Start Your Day
by Evelyn Valdez·
Want to know how to have more energy and be productive throughout your day?
Establish a morning routine! Having a good morning routine will help increase your productivity levels along with making you feel more grounded and focused on your goals. You're basically setting yourself up for success! Set a morning routine that works for you. Many think they need to get up and work out in order to have a great morning routine and a productive day, but that's not necessarily true. The best way to set your mood for the day is by doing something that suits you. So, if getting up at the crack of dawn to hit the gym is not your thing, then do something less strenuous, like getting up and stretching!
Instead of laying in bed scrolling through emails or social media, make the effort to get up 10-15 minutes early to stretch your body! Having a set morning stretching routine is a great way to start your day, and can even give you some of the benefits that early morning workouts provide. So, when you wake up, don't hit snooze on your alarm - Get up, pull out your yoga mat, and stretch your body! To help, we put together a list of 8 of our favorite morning stretches that will start your day off on the right foot, no equipment needed!
Why you should have a morning stretch routine
Before we dive into the stretches, let's tell you why stretching is soooo good for you in the first place. Our bodies need rest to recover from the day and to heal our muscles... But just as we need rest at night, our bodies need movement in the morning!
After sleeping still for 6-8 hours our bodies are stiff that's because of the connective tissue that accumulates between our muscles while we are at rest. To help release that build-up of muscle tissues we have to move! Performing a few stretching exercises every morning helps wake up and loosen tight muscles.
Aside from that, here are a few other benefits of implementing a morning stretch routine:
- Boosts circulation
Like we mentioned early, sleeping still for long periods of time causes our bodies to become stiff. When you're asleep your muscles are relaxed and your blood pressure and heart rate drop. Stretching in the morning helps get your blood flow going which can help increase your concentration.
- Reduces stress
Are you one of those people that wakes up and automatically thinks about the list of stuff they need to do? Waking up stressed about the day can lead to tension in your body. By stretching in the morning you release the uncomfortable tension in your body caused by the stress you feel. Plus it helps you cope with the stress better and puts you in a positive mood which in turn reduces your stress levels throughout the day. Remember to incorporate deep breaths to focus on while you stretch.
- Increases energy
Start your day off by moving to prevent feeling lethargic and tired all day. It can be tempting to stay in bed all morning and just drink copious amounts of coffee for energy, but our bodies need movement, especially in the morning! Stretching in the morning helps wake you up and gives you that get up and go feeling so you can be energized and productive all day. The hardest part is getting out of bed, once you get up and stretch your body then you are ready to handle everything life throws at you!
- Increases flexibility in muscles and joints
Just like we need an alarm clock to wake up, our bodies need stretching as an alarm clock. Stretching in the morning signals to our brains that it's time for our muscles to wake up! Waking up your muscles with stretching helps them perform better for the day. Research has shown that stretching increases flexibility in the knees, hips, shoulders, and ankle joints. 
MORNING STRETCHES TO START YOUR DAY
Now that you understand the power of stretching, it's time to set up a routine! We compiled a list of dynamic and static stretches that will help start your day off on the right foot! For those who don't know, static stretches are when you sink into a stretch and hold it for a few seconds or a minute. Dynamic stretches require you to move through a functional range of motion at a controlled speed. Combining the two will help loosen up your tight muscles and also prepare them for the activity that follows. They can even be used as a warm-up for those who prefer to work out in the morning!
So, the key is to keep things simple. Don't overcomplicate your morning routine because the point of setting one is to reduce stress and prepare you for your day. That said, pick your favorite stretches and spend around 5-10 minutes moving through them slowly and effortlessly...
We hold a lot of tension on our necks so one of the first areas you should focus on stretching in the morning is your neck. This will help stretch the muscles on both sides of your neck.
How to do it:
- Sit or stand upright keeping your head centered. Make sure it's not tilted forward, back, or to the side.
- Gently bend your neck to the right so the right ear is almost touching your left shoulder.
- Using your right hand carefully pull the left side of your head. You should feel the stretch on the left side of your neck.
- Hold, breathe, and switch sides.
Knees to chest stretch
This is another great stretch to start with because of its gentleness and effectiveness. It's a simple movement that can help stabilize the pelvis, stretch the lower back, encourage better blood flow, and help reduce lower back pain.
How to do it:
- Lie on your back.
- Gently draw your knees into your chest and wrap your arms around them.
- Hold for 15-30 seconds, and repeat for the desired amount of time.
This stretch is also known as 'cat and camel' because the movement is reminiscent of one of the animals. It's a simple, but great stretch for the core, spine, hips, and neck. It also helps increase blood circulation in the spinal fluid.
How to do it:
- Get on all fours, the top of your feet should be flat on the floor, shoulders directly over wrists, and hips directly over your knees.
- Inhale and drop your belly, letting your back arch, shoulders rolled back and down. Your head should be slightly up so you're looking up toward the ceiling.
- As you exhale round your upper back, pressing your hands down onto the floor.
- Repeat this movement for a minute. Arching on your inhales and rounding on your exhales.
This is a restorative pose that is good for gently stretching the hips, pelvis, thigh, and spine.
How to do it:
- Sit down on your knees, they should be directly under your hips. Your back should be straight and your toes should be slightly touching.
- Take a big inhale and feel your spine grow.
- As you exhale, lean forward by taking your butt towards your heels and tuck your chin in your chest.
- Rest here with your forehead on the ground and arms stretched out in front of you or next to your body.
- Hold for at least 5 breaths and repeat.
Downward facing dog
This stretching exercise is great for those that wake up with back pain. This exercise actively works almost your entire body. It works your arms, shoulders, wrists, core while stretching your hamstrings, spine, and calves.
How to do it:
- Get on all fours then move your body into a plank position.
- Inhale pushing into your hands. Straighten your arms as you raise your hips, straightening your legs and working your heels towards the ground.
- Stay in that position for five breaths bending the knees and then the other as you do. This will help open up the back of each leg. Then settle into the position with your legs straight for the last two breaths.
- On the exhale press into your hands and roll your shoulders back and down so they are away from your ears.
- Keep your spine neutral here. Make sure your shoulders aren't hunched and that your stomach isn't too far towards
- Repeat up to 5 times.
Standing forward bend
Also known as the forward fold, this is a common stretch performed in yoga. It works your spinal muscles, glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
How to do it:
- Stand up straight, keep feet a few inches apart and flat on the floor.
- Take a deep breath and lift your hands up and out above your head.
- Exhale and fold at the hip joint, not your waist, keeping your torso long and lifted. Your legs should remain straight.
- Once you're folded over, put your hands anywhere that is comfortable. On the floor, your ankles, or your shins.
- Remain in that position for at least 5 breaths. Try to focus on your breathing and in each exhalation release into your bend. Your neck and head should be fully relaxed.
- Once you're done with your 5 breaths, release your arms from where they were and rise up slowly, lifting from your hip joint and core.
- Repeat 3-5 times
Supine spinal twist stretch
Aside from being a great back stretch, the spinal twist targets multiple parts of the body at once, making it an excellent stretch for when you're short on time! It targets the back, hips, glutes, and core. The twisting movement also helps open up the chest and lengthen the waist!
How to do it:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat.
- Inhale, and bring your knees to the left side of your body. Hold for a few breaths.
- Exhale, and bring knees back to the center.
- Inhale, and repeat, bringing your knees to the right side this time. Hold for a few breaths.
- Exhale and bring your knees back to center.
- Repeat as many times as you.
We use our shoulders in a lot of movements throughout the day. This is a dynamic shoulder stretch that will help wake up those muscles in your shoulders so they're warmed up and ready for any activities you'll face throughout the day.
How to do it:
- Lie on the floor facing up keeping your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Arms should be on the floor, palms facing up with elbows bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Make sure to keep your arms in contact with the floor at all times. Slide your hands overhead, straightening your elbows. Avoid arching your back during this movement, you should feel your shoulder blades touching the floor or mat.
- Slide your arms back down to the starting position.
- Repeat this for 30-45 seconds. Focus on keeping your arms and lower back in contact with the floor.
This exercise can also be performed standing against the wall.
There are so many other amazing full-body stretches that you can perform. We just wanted to give you a list of our favorite easy stretches that can be performed in less than 10 minutes and with no equipment! But if you have a Light Resistance Long Band then you can incorporate band pull-apart, and other resistance band exercises to fully wake your body up.
Bottomline is, start your day off on a positive note by moving your body a bit, so you are ready for everything you have to handle throughout the day.