Have you ever awoken with a painful neck, back aches, or some other musculoskeletal ailment?If you ever wake up feeling sluggish? This article is for you if you replied yes — or if you’re looking for a better way to start each day. I can’t tell you how many people I speak with every day in my physical therapy office who believe they must simply embrace everyday aches and pains. The opposite could not be further from the facts! Especially if you know a few stretches that, when done regularly, can make a significant difference in how you feel during the day.
I’ve mentioned five stretches to do first thing in the morning to boost your endurance, mobility, and flexibility. I suggest drinking an eight to ten ounce glass of water before placing something more into your body, in addition to completing the exercises described below. This would help to kick-start the digestive system and make breakfast easier to eat.
1.Lower Trunk Rotation
On your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the bed. As seen in the example below, keep your knees together and gently lower them to one side. Hold this stretch for 5 seconds on each hand and repeat ten times. This stretch is great because it extends the lumbar musculature while still helping to mobilize the spine. It’s perfectly natural to hear a crack or two in your low back when doing this exercise. However, as in all stretches, make sure you remain in a pain-free range of motion when doing this one.
2. Hamstring Stretch
Start by lying on your back and bending one leg. As seen in the picture above, slowly pull straight leg towards chest, putting hands behind thigh muscle and softly dragging leg towards you, ensuring that your knee is straight. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on both legs three times. The hamstrings will benefit greatly from this stretch. Hamstrings are prone to tightening while sleeping, particularly in those who like to sleep on their side and/or in the fetal position, which shortens the hamstrings.
Lay on your back, knees bent, foot flat on the ground. Slowly raise the glutes off the surface, one vertebra at a time, and stay for five seconds. Make a total of ten repetitions. This workout is beneficial because it improves your glute muscles while still mobilizing your back.
4. Upper Trapezius Stretch
This neck stretch is great for keeping the neck from stiffening up becoming painful pressure points. Begin by sitting on the bed’s edge. Drop your opposite ear to your opposite shoulder with one hand behind your back. If you put your right arm behind your back, your left ear will drop to your left shoulder (see image below). There is no need to apply overpressure on the opposite hand if a stretch is felt, as seen in the picture above. If you don’t notice a stretch, kindly put your opposite hand on your head and steadily exert pressure to intensify the stretch. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds on each hand and repeat three times.
5. Upward Reach
Begin by sitting or standing on the edge of the bed. Fingers should be interlaced as seen in the example above. Take a deep breath and gently lift your arms above. Then lean to one side softly. Inhale and exhale slowly, then slowly move to the other side. Ten times in either direction, repeat this operation. This exercise helps to stretch the neck and warm up the diaphragm by concentrating on the breathing.
*All images can be found at www.heptogo.com