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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.

              Simple Hacks on How to Relieve Neck Pain Fast (and Naturally) 7 Best Lower Back Stretches for Relieving Pain 12 Causes of Lower Right Back Pain (And How to Relieve It) 12 Best Back Strengthening Exercises to Relieve Lower Back Pain How to Sleep with Lower Back Pain Using These 13 Tips

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              Last Updated on September 18, 2020

              7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

              7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

              Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

              Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

              1. Exercise Daily

              It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

              If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

              Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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              If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

              2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

              Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

              One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

              This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

              3. Acknowledge Your Limits

              Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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              Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

              Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

              4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

              Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

              The basic nutritional advice includes:

              • Eat unprocessed foods
              • Eat more veggies
              • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
              • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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              Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

                5. Watch Out for Travel

                Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

                This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

                If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

                6. Start Slow

                Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

                If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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                7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

                Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

                My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

                If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

                I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

                Final Thoughts

                Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

                Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

                More Tips on Getting in Shape

                Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

                Reference

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