Most shelter-in place orders have been lifted and we're slowly getting back to what life was like before, but we are still in the midst of a pandemic. And a lot of people are still being careful, staying indoors, and only going out when absolutely necessary - As it should be.
Staying indoors all can get pretty boring... But staying in doesn't necessarily mean we have to stop moving and being active! It's important that we try to maintain our normal routine so we don't fall back on bad habits. The best way to make sure you stay disciplined is by setting up a morning routine. Your morning routines indicate how the rest of your day will go. You don't want to start off your day by being in bed until 12, even if you're working from home, you have to get your body moving! That doesn't mean you have to do a hard workout as soon as you wake up, it could be just stretching to get your blood flowing.
We want to feel energized and productive throughout the day and the best way to do that is by doing a full body morning stretch routine!
Benefits of stretching in the morning
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 up our tight muscles.
Aside from that, here are a few other benefits of implementing a morning stretch routine:
Like we mentioned early, sleeping still for long periods of times 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. Everyone working from home can benefit from this 😅
Working from home for some is just as, if not more, stressful than actually going to the office to work. You might wake up thinking about all the work you need to get done for the day and unintentionally cause your body stress. 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 put you in a positive mood which in turns reduces your stress levels throughout the day. Remember to incorporate deep breaths to focus on while you stretch.
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 your 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!
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 activity that follows like your morning workout!
Don't over complicate your morning routine. Warming up and stretching is meant to help reduce stress and prepare you for your day, not add stress. Pick your favorite stretches, make sure to keep it simple and less than 10 minutes.
Here are our favorite stretches, in no particular order...
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.
Here's 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 and breathe.
- Repeat on the other side.
Repeat a few times, taking rests in between.
Cat and Camel
This stretch is also known as cat-cow, it helps increase blood circulation in the spinal fluid. It helps stretch your back and abdominal muscles.
Here's 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.
Here's 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.
Perform this exercise for about a minute.
Downward facing dog
This stretching exercise is great for those that wake up with a back pain. This exercise actively works almost your entire body. It works your arms, shoulders, wrists, core, while stretching your hamstrings, spine, and calves.
- 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 forward fold, this is a common stretch performed in yoga. It works your spinal muscles, glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
Here's 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
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.
Here's 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
- 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 don't want to lie or sit on the cold floor then all you need is your yoga mat.
Remember to start your day off on a positive note, so your mind and body are ready for everything you have to handle throughout the day.
Stay safe and let us know your favorite stretches in the comments below! 👇🏼