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Last Updated on December 16, 2020

17 Morning Stretches That Will Jumpstart Your Body and Mind

17 Morning Stretches That Will Jumpstart Your Body and Mind

Morning brain fog? Few people are likely to jump up with excitement once that alarm begins to sound. “Ding, ding,” it goes and we are called into another day of life.

Coffee, a brisk walk, and fresh air are great for getting us going in the morning. Yet, what about the muscles and joints that help us function? What can we do to welcome all of the parts of our body into each day? Can we use our arms and legs to help clear some of that brain fog? Yes!

We have created a list of the best morning stretches for clearing your mind and charging your body. Which ones will you choose first?

What Type of Stretches Are Best in the Morning?

Gentle dynamic stretches can be your best friend during a morning routine. Static stretches are best saved for when your body has generated a bit more flexibility for the activities of the day. So, what is the difference between dynamic and static stretching and why does it matter?[1] Let’s find out.

Dynamic stretches offer your body gentle, repetitive motion. This helps redistribute fluid, blood, and nutrients that may have succumb to gravity’s command as you slept. On the other hand, static stretches are held longer and offer a more stationary position for each set of muscles. We are not saying that static stretches are bad. If you have a few favorites, enjoy them any time of day!

However, the movement of dynamic stretches is far more beneficial as you seek to get your mind and body moving after rest.[2] Your brain and body are designed to regularly distribute fluid, nutrients and oxygen. Dynamic movements help to make this happen evenly and more naturally.

Morning dynamic stretches are best completed with a slow and gentle motion. Jerky and abrupt movements (e.g. kickboxing and some powerlifting techniques) are best left for when your body has had a chance to redistribute valuable resources throughout the limbs.

Are you ready for some examples of what you should do for a great morning stretch routine? Here are enough morning stretches that you can rotate them for a lively and interesting session every morning of the week!

Get Started Before Your Feet Hit the Floor!

1. Leg Hugs

Rest flat on the floor – or bed. Bring both legs to your chest and give yourself a hug! Release both legs down to the floor. Bring only your right leg and hug it. Now only your left leg and hug it. Repeat all three steps 3 to 5 times. Look! You don’t even have to get out of bed for this one!

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    2. Bent Leg Sways

    Facing your ceiling, raise your knees and place your feet flat and together. Swing your knees to the right and to the left of your body as far as is comfortable. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

    3. Morning Cycle on the Floor

    Facing skyward, rest your body out flat. Place your hands on the floor to your sides. Raise your knees to your chest. Slowly rotate your slightly bent legs in a bicycle motion in the air. Reverse the motion and continue moving both legs in rotation.

    This is a great motion for helping to get the blood flowing without giving you a headache first thing in the morning. This one can also be done without getting out of bed! Enjoy this motion for 30 to 60 seconds.

    4. Ankle Movers

    Find a seated position in which your upper legs are somewhat parallel to the floor. Maybe the edge of the bed. Raise your knees up and down gently and slowly, as you keep your toes on the floor. Notice how your ankles are engaged. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

    5. Fingers to Toes Body Lengthening

    Stand with your feet shoulder width apart from one another. Bring your right arm up over your head. Shift your weight onto your left leg as you stretch your fingers up diagonally over your left shoulder. Reach your right big toe to your right as you add your right leg to the stretch. With an even motion, switch sides 5 to 10 times.

    For balance, you may choose to hold onto a wall, chair, or counter with either has as may be comfortable for you.

      6. Knee to Elbow Walking

      Choose a hallway or longer room in your home. As you walk from one side of the room to another, gently bring your right knee up to meet your right elbow. On the next step, do the left side. Do this 5 to 10 times on each side.

      7. Cross Body Knee to Elbow Walking

      Much like the stretch just prior to this one, choose a space for walking. As you walk, cross your right knee to meet your left elbow. Do this five to ten times per side.

      8. Door Frame Grabber

      Raise your arms up high and grab the top of a door frame in your home. Do this with an even pace 5 to 10 times. Try to keep your arms even with one another as your raise them.

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      Care to make it interesting? Travel from door to door and take a new perspective from each one as you raise those limbs. Not tall enough to reach the top of the door frame? No problem. The side frames of any doorway will also welcome you to stretch upon them.

      9. Lung Openers

      Sit or stand to lengthen your spine in an upright manner. Bring your shoulder blades together as you draw in a full breath of fresh morning air through your nose. This is a great one for the porch, yard, or park! Slowly release your breath through your mouth. Do this 5 to 10 times.

      Alternately, you may choose to do this stretch 5 times at the beginning and 5 times at the end of your morning wake-up routine.

        10. Belly Wake-Up (Cobra)

        Rest your body in a prone position (face down). Place your elbows and palms flat on the floor by your upper torso. Push down into the floor with your hands and elbows raising your torso (half cobra). Draw in a full breath as you go. Then, lower your shoulders as you let the air out through your mouth. Do this 3 to 5 times.

        For a challenge, try to straighten your arms (into full cobra). Be sure not to lock your elbows. Remember to use your breath to help you know how long to stay in each position. Moving and breathing together helps your body circulate oxygen and nutrients.

          11. Core Wake-Ups

          Begin with palms and knees shoulder length apart on the floor (table position). Raise your right arm and left leg simultaneously. Switch sides. Continue by alternating each side slowly 5 to 10 times. Keep your face parallel with the floor. Try not to sway from side to side as you move.

          However, most people will notice a slight swaying motion while switching from side to side.

          12. Forward Leg Swings

          Stand with your spine as upright as possible. Hold onto a table, wall, tree, or door frame with your left hand. Gently swing your right leg in front of you and behind you 5 to 10 times. Switch sides.

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          13. Lateral Leg Swings

          Stand with your spine as upright as possible. Hold onto a tree or door frame with your left hand. Gently swing your right leg in front of your left leg and then to your far right 5 to 10 times. Switch sides.

          Be mindful of what may be next to you on either side. Kicking a table is no fun anytime of day – but it is certainly not the way most of us want to wake up our bodies!

          14. Toe, Arch, and Calf Wake-Ups

          Walk barefoot for a moment or two. Stand with your feet at a comfortable distance from one another. With an even pace, raise yourself up to stand on your toes and lower to flat feet again. Repeat 5 to 10 times. (If you have arch pain, you may need to put on comfortable, supportive shoes before you get out of bed.)[3]

          Once You Have Moved Around a Bit

          Standing toe touches are a wonderful stretch for the legs, back, and arms. However, bending over first thing in the morning can make some people feel light headed. Blood needs to circulate throughout your body before you decide to bring your head below your heart. Be mindful of your personal blood pressure condition.[4]

          Save these next few stretches for after you have moved around a bit with a some of the stretches shown in numbers 1-14. This will help ensure that you get some fluid and oxygen flowing throughout your body first.[5]

          15. Alternating Toe-Touches

          Stand with your feet apart shoulder distance. Reach your right hand down to touch your left foot, ankle, or shin. Directly from this, raise both arms up as you lengthen your spine and body to be upright. Reach your left hand to your right foot, ankle, or shin. Alternate from each position 3 to 5 times.

          16. Wide-Legged Arm Swings

          Place your feet as wide as is comfortable. Without locking your knees, bend at the waist and reach for your toes. Gently swing your arms allowing them to dangle as you wiggle your fingers. Raise and lower 1 to 3 times.

          For a challenge, place your palms on the floor instead of swinging them. Bend at the knees bringing your bottom close to the floor. Breathe out as you lower into a crouching position. (If you have knee pain, you may wish to stick to only the arm swings.) Repeat 2 to 3 times.

          17. Child’s Pose to Downward Dog

          Start with your hands and feet square on the floor table position). Keeping your hands on the floor, lower your bottom to sit on your feet. Slowly, let out your breath as you go down. Tuck your head between your shoulders. You should feel your spine lengthen.

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            Come back to table position. Gently straighten your arms and legs and raise your bottom into the air (downward dog). Fill your lungs as you go upward. Push into your palms and feel the stretch throughout your arms and legs. In a fluid motion, do this transition 2 to 3 times.

              Staying Motivated As You Advance in Your Routine

              As you become comfortable with each stretch, try to complete them one right after the other. Create a new order each week. Do some forward leg swings as you brush your teeth to get you started on a day when you are less interested.

              Teach your favorite morning stretches to a friend. This will help keep you inspired and refresh your memory for each one.

              Print this list, and cut the paper into pieces according to the individual stretches. Shuffle the pieces and pick them at random to keep it interesting.

              Putting It All Together

              Stretches that pull through the whole body help to unify muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments throughout your limbs. Alternate your favorites morning stretches. Keep it lively with these moving exercises for your morning wake up routine!

              You will notice than many of these stretches can easily be adapted or enjoyed on the way to your favorite park, down the sidewalk, or in a yard space. A door frame can be traded for a tree. Your hallway can be traded for a park walkway. Out of time? Do as many stretches as you can walking to and from your work setting.

              The most important thing is to get yourself moving in a way that incorporates your entire body without introducing fast and jerky motions first thing as your feet hit the floor in the morning.

              If you enjoyed this list of morning stretches, you may also like, “Need Morning Motivation? 30 Morning Routines to Help You Start Afresh.

              Featured photo credit: Scott Broome via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Sports & Exercise Medical Institute: The Advantages of Dynamic Stretching vs. Static Stretching
              [2] Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab: 4 Questions about Morning Aches & Pains that You’re Too Afraid to Ask
              [3] News Medical Life Sciences: Causes of Arch Pain
              [4] GHOSH YOGA: Blood Pressure & Putting the Head Below the Heart
              [5] NCBI: The Blood Supply of the Brain and Spinal Cord

              More by this author

              Dr. Brent Wells, D.C.

              Chiropractic doctor currently leading over 10,000 Alaskans to more active, pain-free lifestyles โ€“ without addictive drugs or invasive surgeries.

              12 Best Back Strengthening Exercises to Relieve Lower Back Pain These 13 Leg Stretches Will Prevent Pain and Injury During Exercise 17 Morning Stretches That Will Jumpstart Your Body and Mind 7 Best Lower Back Stretches for Relieving Pain Simple Hacks on How to Relieve Neck Pain Fast (and Naturally)

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              Last Updated on December 28, 2020

              How to Build Muscle Fast: 5 Fitness and Nutrition Hacks

              How to Build Muscle Fast: 5 Fitness and Nutrition Hacks

              Building muscle isn’t rocket science. All it takes is repeatedly doing the things that are proven in the lab and gym to work. This article provides 5 great ways to build muscle fast.

              None of them requires you to spend lots of money on fancy fitness equipment or nutritional supplements. All you have to be willing to do is make a few adjustments to your diet, workout, and supplement routines. Put forth the effort, and you’ll be able to gain 5-10 lbs. of muscle in a month or two.

              1. Eat Enough Protein Every Day

              Contrary to what advertisements for protein powders say, you don’t need to eat and drink hundreds of grams daily to build muscle. The truth is, eating this amount won’t help you build muscle faster. It can actually be stored as fat.

              All you really need is enough to meet your body’s daily needs and then a little more to stimulate muscle gain. This works out to about .8 grams per pound of body weight. So, if you weigh 150 lbs., you need to eat about 120 grams of protein daily.

              Don’t stress too much over exactly how many grams of protein are in everything you eat. Use the eyeball method instead. 

              This is done by looking at the protein on your plate and picturing an amount that’s the size of the palm of your hand. This amount contains about 28 grams of protein[1]. Do this every time you eat, and you’ll easily be able to make sure you eat enough.

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              What does 25 grams of protein look like?

                You also need to know which foods are protein rich. They include: beef, eggs, poultry, pork, and seafood. Drink a protein shake if you’re having trouble eating enough of these foods. The best type of shake for building muscle is one that uses whey and casein proteins as its primary sources.

                Research shows these are the best protein powders for building muscle. One study also shows that drinking a shake that contains casein protein before bed can actually turn on the muscle building process[2].

                2. Do “Big” Lifts

                Forget exercises like curls, shoulder presses, and flyes and training individual body parts (chest, back, biceps, etc.) if building muscle is your goal. Instead, perform strength training exercises that train several muscle groups at once. Scientific studies show that exercises that do this are better for building muscle than the aforementioned isolation movements[3].

                Exercises you should do often include: dips, deadlifts, farmers walks, kettlebell swings, military presses, and pull ups. These are the movements that will really stimulate your body to build muscle fast.

                This video below will teach you how to perform my favorite muscle building exercise: farmer’s walks.

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                3. Train Hard Often

                You don’t have to work out every day for hours at a time to build muscle fast. What you need to do is train using the exercises I mentioned above often enough to stimulate muscle growth. Lifting weights 3 to 4 times a week is plenty. Give yourself a day’s rest after every 1-2 workouts.

                Your workouts only need to have 4-6 of these exercises. Choose an exercise for every major muscle group at each workout, and you’re set. This includes your legs (squats, deadlifts, lunges), chest/shoulders/triceps (bench press, dips, military press, push ups), and back (bent over rows, pull ups).

                I like to include a total body exercise every workout, too. I find that they are the best exercises for building muscle fast. This includes exercises like kettlebell swings, kettlebell throws, and farmer’s walks.

                Perform 3-5 sets of each exercise for 6-10 reps. Use a weight that makes it difficult to do the last rep of each set but not so hard that you cannot do it without using good form. Increase the weight you use when you can do every rep of each set.

                4. Rest and Recover Between Your Workouts

                Working out breaks down your muscles and eats into your ability to recover. You build muscle when you aren’t exercising. Therefore, proper rest and recovery can speed the muscle building process.

                The best way is to get enough sleep. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night will enable you to train harder and longer, and build muscle faster. If you can’t get this much sleep daily, take a 45 minute nap during the day to make up the difference.

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                Another way to recover faster and build muscle fast is to back off a little bit with regard to the number of sets and reps you do at each workout every once in awhile. Studies show that reducing the workout volume (sets and reps) by about 50% every 8-12 weeks can help you make progress significantly faster[4].

                This means that instead of doing 12 total sets at a workout, you’ll only do 6 using the same weight. Do this for a week, and then go back to your normal routine.

                Cutting back every once in a while will help you stay mentally fresh, too. This, in turn, gives you more energy to put into your future workouts.

                5. Take Nutritional Supplements That Are Proven To Work

                Once you have the four other tips in place, you can consider taking nutritional supplements to help you build muscle fast. The key thing is to use products that work. Through my research, I have found that there are three that work best: branched-chain amino acids, creatine monohydrate, and fish oil.

                The first supplement, branched-chain amino acids, are shown in several research studies to give you energy during your workout, decrease muscle soreness, and “turn on” the muscle-building process within your body. I find that they help me increase my energy and decrease post-workout soreness. You should take about .05 grams per pound of body weight before and after working out for the best results.

                Next is my favorite, creatine monohydrate. If you’re only going to take one supplement to build muscle, this is the one. This is because there are dozens, if not hundreds, of scientific studies that show it safely helps you build muscle and get stronger[5].

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                If you decide to give it a try, make sure you buy a product that is tested and guaranteed to include nothing but creatine monohydrate to ensure its purity. When you take creatine, follow what’s referred to as the loading phase, which is taking 10-20 grams a day for 5-7 days for the best results.

                Research shows this is the best way to get as creatine into your cells as quickly as possible. You can then back off to 5 grams a day to keep getting benefits[6].

                Last but not least is fish oil. In addition to being good for the health of your brain and heart, it can also help you build muscle fast. In one study, subjects taking 2 grams of fish oil daily for 6 weeks added a couple pounds of muscle[7].

                They lost body fat, too, and all without changing their diet or exercising at all. When shopping for a fish oil supplement, make sure you buy a concentrated source that’s tested to be free of impurities and pesticides.

                The Bottom Line

                Getting fit and building muscle doesn’t happen overnight, but with some simple changes to your diet and exercise routine, you can still build muscle fast when you build from a place of motivation and persistence.

                Whether you’re working out at home or at the gym, apply the above tips and watch your muscles grow week after week.

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                Featured photo credit: Anastase Maragos via unsplash.com

                Reference

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