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Last Updated on January 20, 2021

17 Morning Stretches That Will Jumpstart Your Body and Mind

17 Morning Stretches That Will Jumpstart Your Body and Mind
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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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              Published on July 15, 2021

              Shift Work Disorder: 17 Ways to Manage it Better

              Shift Work Disorder: 17 Ways to Manage it Better
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              Are you having trouble sleeping? Or do you feel like you can barely stay awake when you need to? Are you left tired and irritable, lacking the joy and motivation that life once brought? If these complaints are tied to your long or rotating work schedule, you may be suffering from shift work disorder—a common ailment among professions with schedules outside the typical 9 am to 6 pm range.[1]

              Why does it matter? Let’s be honest—being tired stinks. It feels terrible and leaves you vulnerable to many health risks that well-rested people aren’t as susceptible to. Not only that, but it can also wreak havoc on your relationships and quality of life.

              The good news is that there are plenty of ways to help manage this, and you can start trying them out today! Some of the solutions may not be what you expect. For instance, you might have linked improved sleep to exercise, but did you know that being compassionate with yourself can also have an impact?

              Who Are Affected by Shift Work Disorder?

              Twenty-five million people are shift workers in the country, so you are far from alone if you are struggling with this. Shift work disorder is a condition frequently affecting anyone who works a job where their schedule is outside standard business hours. Nurses, police officers, firefighters, and factory workers are common examples of professions with schedules that rotate around the clock.

              Rotating shifts naturally leads to a change in one’s schedule, including sleep. As your sleep schedule becomes more chaotic, your body is unable to adjust and regulate itself and can result in having difficulty falling or staying asleep. This inevitably leads to less sleep, which is where some big problems can arise.

              What Are the Symptoms?

              Sleep is one of the most important (and underrated) aspects of our lives. Enough sleep and good quality sleep are critical to our emotional, mental, and physical health.

              Insufficient sleep can lead to a significantly increased risk of physical health problems, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and gastrointestinal disorders. Mentally, being tired contributes to having scattered concentration, difficulty processing information, and being more likely to make mistakes or have an accident. Emotionally, the fallout of being chronically exhausted is linked to poor emotional regulation including being irritated more quickly, as well as an increased likelihood of developing anxiety and depression.[2]

              Any of this sound familiar? If so, keep reading for some scientifically-based tips to help you manage your sleep better and get your life back.

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              17 Ways to Manage Shift Work Disorder Better

              Quality sleep, or the lack thereof, impacts us physically, mentally, and emotionally. The most impactful plan of attack against shift work disorder and to regain quality sleep must also reflect that.

              I suggest reading through all of the tips and formulating a plan based on what you think will work for you. Start by trying out one thing and build from there as you are able. Remember to construct a plan that addresses your physical, mental, and emotional health.

              Let’s start in the most obvious place first:

              Your Job

              1. Make Your Schedule the Best It Can Be

              Randomly rotating shifts has been found to have the worst impact on our health.[3] If you have to rotate your schedule, request to rotate shifts in a clockwise fashion.

              For example: work the day shift, rotate to the nights, then to the early morning shift, then start back on the day shift. Sounds silly? It’s not. Studies show that our bodies more easily adjust to changes in schedule when completed in a clockwise manner.[4] This is because of something called our circadian rhythm—24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock that carry out essential functions. The most commonly known of these is sleep. It has been discovered that our circadian rhythm adjusts forward more easily than it does backward.

              2. Speak to Your Manager About Keeping Your Workplace Bright

              Special lights have been designed to assist with circadian rhythm. It turns out that absorbing bright light that is most similar to sunlight can positively impact regulating our circadian rhythm.[5]

              3. Avoid a Long Commute to and From Work

              Having a long drive home after working a rotating shift is statistically not in your best interest. It’s been shown that fatigued/sleepy employees are 70% more likely to have a workplace accident and 33% more likely to be involved in a traffic accident.[6]

              To avoid putting yourself at risk by driving when you’re not at your best, catch a nap before leaving work, pull over to sleep, or stay at a friend’s house nearby.

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              4. Speak to Your Manager About Your Concerns

              Many companies that operate around the clock are willing and able to make accommodations to those working alternative shifts. Whether it’s helping you find a schedule that works best for you or connecting you with other programs designed to support your well-being, being in good communication with your employer is to everyone’s benefit.

              Sleep Attitudes and Environment

              5. Change Your Perspective and Start Prioritizing Sleep

              Here’s the deal: despite some pretty well-known dangerous effects of not getting enough sleep, somewhere along the line, our society began to think of sleep as a luxury. Some even consider it a badge of honor to “power through” without much (or any) sleep. People have been made to feel embarrassed or lazy if they get the recommended amount of sleep each night.

              Here’s the bottom line: sleep is not a luxury.

              Let me repeat that—sleep is not a luxury, and getting a consistent and healthy amount does not make you a slacker. Sleep is actually when our body does a lot of repair work on itself—blood vessels, muscles, and other organs. Sleep also boosts our immunity.

              If we could help people feel as proud about sleeping as we do about them working out regularly or sticking to a healthy diet, people might be a lot healthier.

              6. Make Your Sleep Space as Conducive to Rest as Possible

              This means tweaking your environment so it’s as enticing as possible for your body to go to sleep. Keep the room dark using blackout blinds, reduce the temperature (our body rests best when slightly cool), limit interruptions (phone calls, visitors, noise), and remove electronic devices.[7]

              Set yourself up for success by supporting yourself through your surroundings. If you wanted to lose weight, you wouldn’t frequently surround yourself with cookies, cake, and ice cream, right? Same idea here.

              Personal Habits and Choices

              7. Stick to a Regular Sleep Schedule as Closely as Possible—on Workdays and Days Off

              This is obviously difficult when your schedule changes on the regular, but the more consistent you can keep your bedtime, the easier time your body has getting to sleep and staying that way.[8]

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              8. Allow Yourself Time to Catch Up on Sleep

              Having enough days off to rest and recuperate is an important aspect of protecting your health. You wouldn’t expect to be able to drive across the country on one tank of gas, right? Filling your own personal gas tank is just as important.

              9. Take Naps, but Don’t Overdo It

              It’s recommended by the Cleveland Clinic to take a 90-minute nap just before starting your shift and then a 30-minute nap during your “lunch break” at work.[9] Again, this is all about keeping some gas in your tank and not allowing yourself to get to the point where you are running on fumes. Short naps will help you stay refreshed and alert on the job.

              10. Limit Caffeine to the Start of Your Shift

              Most of us love a good hit of caffeine, especially when we are tired. But overdoing it or having caffeine too late in your shift can negatively impact your ability to get to sleep when you finally have the time to do so. Moderate your intake to help yourself get some quality sleep.

              11. Avoid Alcohol Before Bed

              Unwinding after work with a drink can be tempting. It can make you drowsy, which many people mistakenly believe will help them get better sleep. Unfortunately, alcohol will actually keep you awake (or wake you up later). This obviously impairs your ability to get the quality of sleep you are looking for.

              12. Don’t Smoke

              Much like alcohol, people turn to nicotine to “calm their nerves” or help them relax. Also, like alcohol, nicotine has been shown to disrupt sleep.[10] Cut back or cut this habit out as able.

              13. Eat Well and Eat Smart

              Choose convenient nutritious meals and snacks. Nutritious food is the foundation from which our body creates the needed chemicals for quality sleep. Foods high in saturated fat and sugar have been shown to have the worst impact on sleep.[11]

              Also, timing is everything as they say. Eating too much or not enough before your shift can cause you to feel tired.

              14. Get Regular Exercise

              According to numerous studies, exercise can be as effective in treating sleep disorders as prescription medication.[12] Yes, you read that correctly—regular exercise is the bomb!

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              This one can be tricky to convince people to do, especially if they are already tired and short on time. If you don’t have the time to hit the gym, take a brisk walk, dance around your living room to your favorite song, or mow your lawn. Despite feeling tired, getting up off the couch and moving around (moderate to vigorous exercise) is best for reducing the time it takes to get to sleep and improving the quality of sleep.

              Mental and Emotional

              15. Establish Consistent Practices That Help You Relax Before Bed

              This can include yoga, deep breathing, a warm bath, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, meditation, and hypnosis. These are designed to reduce physical tension and quiet your mind from thoughts that are keeping you awake. There are lots of great apps and free videos that can help you with this.

              16. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

              Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT as it’s known, works by helping you to identify thoughts and behaviors that make sleep worse and then developing new habits consisting of thoughts and behaviors that promote sleep. There are psychologists and life coaches who are specially certified in CBT that can help you with this.

              17. Show Yourself Some Compassion

              Sounds silly? Well, it’s not. A seven-year study conducted at the University of Mannheim concluded that the daily practice of self-compassion positively impacted people’s quality of sleep.[13]

              The concept of showing ourselves compassion is foreign (and uncomfortable) to many of us. Try going easy on yourself for being grumpy, and give yourself some credit for the efforts you are making in tough circumstances. What would you say to your best friend if they were struggling with the same situation? I routinely ask my clients this question as it’s sometimes easier to be compassionate to others than ourselves. This tip might take some practice, but the effort could result in a better night’s sleep.

              Final Thoughts

              Okay, there you have it—17 different ways you can help yourself manage shift work disorder, feel more rested, more like yourself, and enjoy life again. To get started with your plan, pick out a few tips that you can implement today, but remember to choose a well-rounded approach—addressing the physical, mental and emotional.

              Be patient with yourself. It takes time to build new habits. And show yourself some compassion and kindness—you might just be able to sleep better when you do.

              Featured photo credit: Yuris Alhumaydy via unsplash.com

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              Reference

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