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Last Updated on January 20, 2021

17 Morning Stretches That Will Jumpstart Your Body and Mind

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17 Morning Stretches That Will Jumpstart Your Body and Mind

Few people are likely to jump up with excitement once that alarm begins to sound. Somehow, the idea of starting a new day just doesn’t motivate you like it once did. That’s where morning stretches can help.

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?

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?

Dynamic stretches offer your body gentle, repetitive motion. This helps redistribute fluid, blood, and nutrients that may have succumbed 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. These also have their time and place.

However, the movement of dynamic stretches is far more beneficial as you seek to get your mind and body moving after rest.[1] 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 morning stretches that you can rotate for a lively and interesting session every morning of the week!

To Get Your Day Started

1. Leg Hugs

Rest your feet flat on the floor or your 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, and then your left leg.

Repeat all three steps 3 to 5 times. You don’t even have to get out of bed for this one!

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Reducing Chronic Knee Pain: 7 Quick Stretches to Do Daily » The Culture Supplier

    2. Lower Body Twist

    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.

    Kettlebell Leg Sway - Sworkit | At Home Workout and Fitness Plans

      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 (the edge of the bed works well). Raise your knees up and down gently and slowly, as you keep your toes on the floor.

      Notice how your ankles are engaged with these morning stretches. 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.

      Stretching Exercises you Must Do Post Workout | Femina.in

         

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        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 above, 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 you raise them.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? The side frames of any doorway will also welcome you to stretch.

        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, and 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, and 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.

        Postura de la Cobra | Ciudad Yoga

          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. Repeat on the other side. 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 much as you move.

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          12. Forward Leg Swings

          This is one of those morning stretches that will really get your blood moving. Stand with your spine upright and your feet hip width apart. 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, and then switch sides.

          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, and 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.)[2]

          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.[3]

          Save these next few stretches for after you have moved around a bit with a some of the stretches shown above. This will help ensure that you get some fluid and oxygen flowing throughout your body first.[4]

          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 for great morning stretches.

          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. 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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          Balasana: Child's Pose | Yoga | Gaia

             

            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 to get a great lower and upper body stretch.

            Why doesn't yoga4cancer include Downward Facing Dog? - yoga4cancer (y4c) - Classes, Teacher Training and Support

               

              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 favorite morning stretches.

              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.

              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.

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              More for Your Morning Routine

              Featured photo credit: Scott Broome via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab: 4 Questions about Morning Aches & Pains that You’re Too Afraid to Ask
              [2] News Medical Life Sciences: Causes of Arch Pain
              [3] GHOSH YOGA: Blood Pressure & Putting the Head Below the Heart
              [4] Neuroscience: 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 Causes of Lower Right Back Pain (And How to Relieve It) How to Sleep with Lower Back Pain Using These 13 Tips How to Prevent Neck Pain from Sleeping (And Quick Fixes to Help You) 17 Morning Stretches That Will Jumpstart Your Body and Mind 12 Best Back Strengthening Exercises to Relieve Lower Back Pain

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              Last Updated on October 20, 2021

              7 Daily Stress-Management Rituals that Improve Your Productivity

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              7 Daily Stress-Management Rituals that Improve Your Productivity

              If you’re trying to be as productive as possible, stress will always be your biggest obstacle—and it’s not an easy one to overcome. To do it, you’ll need to develop a plan to make stress management a core component of your daily routine, but doing that takes commitment. The good news is that if you succeed in learning how to manage stress, you’ll unlock your potential and be well on your way to peak performance. But first, you need to learn how to make it happen.

              The best way to do that is to learn about and integrate some stress management rituals into your daily routine. To help you get started, here are seven tips on how to manage stress and improve your productivity.

              1. Give Yourself an Extra Hour in the Morning

              If you were to do some research on some of the world’s most successful—and productive—people, you’d notice that many of them have one thing in common: they tend to be early risers. Apple’s Tim Cook gets out of bed before 4 AM each day.[1] Michelle Obama is already getting in her daily workout at 4:30 AM.[2] Richard Branson gets up at 5:45 AM each day, even when he’s vacationing on his private island.

              There’s a good reason why they all do it—once you reach the point in your day that your work schedule kicks in, you no longer have control of your time. That means you have a limited opportunity every morning to reduce your stress by taking care of the things you need to do without anyone making other demands on your time.

              What’s important about this isn’t the time you get up. The important part is getting up early enough to start your day without feeling rushed. For most people, getting up an hour earlier than you normally would is sufficient. This should give you ample time to complete your morning tasks without having to hurry or fall behind.

              But when you implement this ritual, be careful. Don’t do it at the cost of getting the right amount of sleep each night. If you do, you might increase your stress instead of relieving it. Sticking to a proper sleep schedule and getting enough sleep is, in itself, a critical part of stress management.[3]

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              2. Determine and Review Your Most Important Tasks Each Day

              If there’s one productivity tip that almost all experts agree on, it’s that you should spend some time before bed each night to write down your three most important tasks for the following day. But if you want to maximize that practice and turn it into a stress-buster, you should turn that notion on its head.

              Instead, you should do this as a part of your morning routine. There’s a couple of reasons for this. First, it’s that our always-on, always-connected business world means your priorities can change overnight, literally. You may list your top priorities, go to sleep, and wake up to find them woefully out of date. That means the best time to set your priorities for the day is in the morning. This will keep those priorities up to date and let you think about them before the distractions of the day begin. But don’t stop there. You should take some time before bed each night to review that day’s priorities.

              Ideally, you’ll be able to check them off as accomplished. If not, though, think about what prevented you from getting to them. This is your chance to figure out some of the common daily interruptions that get in your way. Chances are, these also cause some of your stress. So, spend the time before bed game-planning how to remove those interruptions and stressors from your day. If you make this a habit, you’ll be more productive and far less stressed out in no time.

              3. Save Your Emails for Later in the Morning

              Another tip on how to manage stress is to save your emails for later. One of the key causes of stress comes from our inability to cope with the unexpected. If you stop to think about it, what is your most prominent source of near-constant unexpected information every day? You guessed it—it’s your email.

              Now, you can’t simply ignore your email. The only thing you can do about your email is to learn how to manage it most effectively. But no matter what you do, it’s going to remain a source of daily stress and distraction. That’s why you should make a habit out of giving yourself an email-free hour or two at the beginning of each day’s schedule.

              In that time, try to tackle one of your daily priorities and get it taken care of. Your email will still be there when you’re done. And when you do get to it, you’ll do so in a much better frame of mind knowing that you’ve already gotten some real work done before having to deal with anything unexpected. That alone will improve your mood and reduce the amount of stress you’ll feel—no matter what’s waiting for you in your inbox.

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              4. Take a Walk After Email Time

              Since you’ll have to deal with your email sooner or later, there’s no way to completely avoid the stress that will come with it. Although you’ll be in a better frame of mind after putting off your email to get some real work done, you’ll still feel some stress when you get to it. That’s why you should make a post-email walk a part of your daily routine.

              Taking a walk is one of the best ways you can relieve stress. It’s a form of meditation that will put you back into the right condition to be productive, and there’s no better time to do it each day than after taking care of your emails.

              Ideally, you’ll want to take a walk outdoors, and preferably in the most natural setting possible. If you’re in an urban environment, a nearby park will suffice. Studies have demonstrated that walking in such environments for as little as 20 minutes per day leads to an overall reduction in the body’s cortisol level.[4]

              Cortisol, if you’re not aware, is your body’s main stress hormone. It helps regulate your blood pressure, energy levels, and even your sleep cycle. Every time your stress goes up, cortisol production also increases, throwing your body into chaos. So, taking a walk right after dealing with your email will help you to relax, reset, and get ready to be productive for the rest of the day.

              5. Reserve Time to Research and Plan a Vacation

              By now, everybody knows that taking vacations every now and then can improve your productivity and lower your stress level. But did you know that even thinking about a vacation can help you to reduce your stress? It may sound strange, but it’s true.

              A Cornell University study in 2012 found that the anticipation of a positive experience—like a vacation—can reduce stress and make you measurably happier. It logically follows, then, that adding to that anticipation each day can maximize the stress-relieving effects of a vacation.[5]

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              To do it, set aside at least a half-hour each day to research or plan an upcoming vacation. You can read about destinations. You can research airfares. You can even look at places to stay in locations you’re interested in visiting. And if you’ve already got a vacation booked, use the time to take a deep dive into what your destination has to offer.

              This is an especially important daily ritual to observe right now, while the COVID-19 pandemic may be limiting your vacation options. If it’s been a while since you’ve been able to take a trip, the act of planning your next vacation will have a therapeutic effect. With vacation rental bookings still hovering below 50% in most major markets, there’s no doubt that the vast majority of people are in desperate need of their next stress-relieving vacation.[6]

              6. Create a Shutdown Ritual to End Your Day

              Another simple yet effective way to manage stress is to create a shutdown ritual. Just as it’s important to get your day off to a stress-free, unhurried start, you’ll want to do the same when the day is through. It’s because after spending each day in a reactive mode—dealing with the unexpected—you need to get back into a proactive mode to relax.

              Studies have shown that having the perception of control over what you’re going through acts as a buffer against negative stress.[7] In other words, feeling like you can manage even a small chunk of your own time counteracts the stress from the parts of your day when you can’t.

              This also means that your shutdown ritual can be whatever you want it to be. You might write in a journal, get in a quick light workout, or prepare your outfit for the following day. As long as you’re the one in complete control over what you’re doing, anything goes. Just make sure that you include the aforementioned review of your daily priorities somewhere in your routine!

              7. Set a No-Screens Rule to End Your Day

              Even though your shutdown routine is important, there’s one more ritual to include before bedtime that will help you manage stress. Spend the last 30 minutes to an hour before you plan to go to sleep observing a strict no-screens rule. Not only will this give you time to disconnect from the stresses of your day, but it will also allow your body to make a transition into a proper sleep mode.

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              The screens we use—smartphones, tablets, laptops—all emit a wavelength of blue light that disrupts our sleep patterns. It’s the same type of light that our bodies recognize as daytime, so seeing it is like telling your brain that it’s the wrong time to be asleep.[8]

              By eliminating all sources of this type of light before bedtime, you’ll increase your odds of getting restful, deep sleep. And since getting proper sleep is one of the best ways to manage your stress, this is the perfect way for you to end each day.

              Final Thoughts

              Although a totally stress-free lifestyle would lend itself to achieving maximum productivity, not many people will ever manage to live that way. So, the next best thing is to work some or all of these daily stress-busting rituals into your day to minimize the inevitable stress instead. Doing so will put you in the best possible position to succeed. And there’s no better antidote for stress than to make the most out of every day no matter what it has to throw at you.

              More Tips on How to Manage Stress

              Featured photo credit: Kaboompics via kaboompics.com

              Reference

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