6 morning stretches that are perfect to wake up your tired muscles

For many people, mornings can be a little chaotic. You’re likely snoozing your alarm, scrolling through Instagram and then jumping out of bed to grab breakfast and get ready for the day. A good way to find peace and quiet before you even start your day? Stretching. Doing so in the AM can improve your body awareness and get you ready for pain-free, easy movement in and out of the gym. Better yet, a good stretching routine can flood the body with feel-good hormones before that first cup of coffee even hits. “Your muscles and brain are at rest when you are asleep, so stretching in the morning is a great way to get blood circulation throughout the body and the brain which not only relaxes your muscles but also improves your mood, makes you more alert and even fuels your appetite which then keeps you energetic for the rest of the day,” says mobility coach, Shereena Master.

Yoga expert Avni Talsania suggests setting your alarm a little earlier in the morning, so you have enough time to work on stretching. “According to the International Journal of Yoga and Allied Sciences, during the pre-dawn period, there is the availability of nascent oxygen in the atmosphere which easily mixes with the haemoglobin. Active breathwork in the pre-dawn period helps to stabilise the balance of blood pH, enhances the absorption of minerals and vitamins, boosts the immune system, and helps to relieve pain, soreness, and cramps,” she adds.

When it comes to AM stretches, Master finds dynamic stretches to be more effective than traditional stretching where you hold one pose for a long time. “Dynamic movements help move your joints through their full range of motion, preparing your muscles for activity and improved performance. The movements are mostly functional as they are meant to get the body moving and blood flowing through the body.” If you’re prone to injury as you move around through the day, stretching could be particularly helpful. “Usually, injuries occur in areas as the muscles get tight and the surrounding muscles have no option but to compensate for that one muscle that isn’t able to perform as it should, so mobility is important,” says Master.

Before you start, keep in mind that the key to the success of the stretches lies in maintaining a consistent breathing pattern. “A pattern of inhaling for four counts and exhaling for four works well, especially if you are trying to get to the end range of motion,” she advises.

1) Neck stretches

Neck mobilisation is the first thing you should do after sleeping, especially if you’re sleeping on a softer pillow, says Master. Start by moving your head up and down, side to side, making circles clockwise and anti-clockwise. If the muscles are relaxed, they will keep the back in better shape, which improves overall posture.

2) Arm circles

Stand with your arms out like an airplane and begin making large circles, first clockwise and then anti-clockwise. Do it to a count of 10. Practising arm circles targets your triceps, back, biceps and shoulders.

3) Leg swings

Stand with both feet together and swing one leg back and forth while balancing on the other. You can use the support of a wall or chair if needed, advises Master. The purpose is to extend the range of motion of your hips, improve knee-flexibility and also prepare the muscles and tendons for additional physical effort.

4) Quad rock back

Start in a kneeling position with your hands on the floor. Take one leg to the side and begin rocking back and forth. You will feel your adductor (inner thigh) muscle stretching. It’s one of the easiest stretches to activate your core and decrease fascial tension in your back at the same time.

5) Knees to chest

Lying flat on your back, bring one knee to your chest and hold it in position with your arms or hands. Release. Follow it on the other leg. “This helps to ease tension in your lower back, open up your inner thigh, adductor muscle, checks the tightness of your hip flexor and stretches out your hamstring as well,” says Master.

6) Lumbar rocks

This stretch is a game-changer for your back as they reduce the stiffness from sleeping, sitting and slouching. “Start by lying flat on the floor with your arms by your side, similar to an airplane and knees bent, feet on the floor. Keeping your knees together, drop them to each side and you will feel a stretch in the lower portion of your torso. Repeat until the discomfort has eased up,” suggests Master.

The article was first published in Vogue

Author

  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

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