If you are dealing with stiffness or soreness due to an injury or chronic illness such as arthritis, stretching can be the perfect morning activity to get you prepared for the movement of the day to come. By stretching in the morning, you get ahead of the pain and discomfort of sore and stiff muscles and joints. In addition to more limber muscles, morning stretching provides these substantial benefits:
- Reduction of muscle and joint tension.
- Improved circulation throughout the body
- Stress reduction.
- Energy boost.
Stretches That Help Morning Stiffness
1. Standing Calf Stretch
Stand a foot away from a wall with your shoulders squared to the wall. Place both hands flat on the wall for support and shift one foot back. Lift the heel of back foot and press through the toes until you feel a comfortable stretch in your shin and calf. Always balance out your stretches on both sides of the body.
Hold stretch on both sides for a count of 30 seconds. Repeat as you see fit for three to five repetitions.
2. Forward Fold
If you are suffering from tight hamstrings or lower back pain, folding toe reaches can loosen up these target areas. This stretch can be performed standing at the side of your bed or while sitting in your bed. You can reach both hands to one foot and then the other for a more focused hamstring stretch, or reach both hands to both feet and hold for a count of 30 seconds. Repeat this stretch one or two more times. Always stretch at your discretion and listen to your body to reduce muscle strain.
If you are standing, slowly sway your torso from side to side to relieve tension in the low back.
3. Reclined Twist
If you are feeling tightness in your mid to lower back or hips, a twist can help to relieve pressure. While laying on your back, bring one knee up above your hips and drop it to the opposite side of your body. Keep your shoulders flat to the ground to maximize the rotation. Place your arms out in a T. You have the option to look to the opposite side of your knee to further the stretch. Another option is to drop the near hand down to the knee to deepen the stretch. Hold this stretch for a count of 20-30 seconds.
Untwist from the stretch by carefully reversing the steps taken to get into the stretch. Repeat this stretch on both sides three to five times.
Body twists not only relieve tension, but can also promote stress relief and digestive health.
4. Squat/Chair Pose
From a standing position or with the assistance of a wall, bed frame or exercise ball, drop down into a comfortable squatted position. Make sure your knees do not pass your toes to reduce pressure on the knee joints. Keep your back straight and your tailbone tucked in to prevent back strain. This stretch works to engage the legs, especially the quads, and the core. Perform five to 15 squats to warm up the legs and prepare them for the day.
You can engage your leg muscles further by holding each squat for a count of five to15 seconds.
5. Shoulder Rotations
Either while standing or sitting, place your arms straight out and begin to make even rotations forward. Rotations can be sweeping and exaggerated or smaller and more controlled. Perform 10-20 rotations.
6. Tissue Pulls and Wrist Rotations
You may be one of many people who suffer from wrist arthritis. If this is the case, even the subtlest activities can lead to wrist pain and discomfort. Getting your wrists stretched and warmed-up in the morning can combat the constant pops and pains.
Tissue pulls are just as described, pulling motions that are followed with flowing downward motions. With arms straight, alternate pulling your fingers up as if you were taking a tissue out of a box. The downward motion will feel as though you’re painting an invisible canvas with your hands.
For the wrist rotation stretch, cup each hand together and begin to make circular rotations. Switch the grip of your hands to even out the stretch.
Both stretches are low strain and low impact and can be performed until meaningful joint relief is achieved.
7. Butterfly Groin Stretch
From a seated position, bring your feet together and allow your knees to drop to either side. Maintaining a straight back, reach down for your feet and bring elbows down to rest on your knees (if able). Press your chest forward to give your groin and hips a stretch. Deepen the stretch by folding forward (if able).
Hold the stretch for a count of 15-30 seconds and repeat for three to five repetitions.
If you are consistently waking up sore, stiff and lethargic, regular morning stretches can give you back the feeling of a good night’s sleep and prepare your joints for the day ahead. If joint pain and discomfort persists, schedule a consultation at our Dallas offices by calling (214) 942-3700 or (817) 923-1254 for our Fort Worth office.