Getting up in the morning isn’t always easy, whether it’s because you didn’t get enough sleep or you want to remain inside your duvet cocoon a little longer. While going to sleep helps you catch up on rest and restore your body, many of us wake up with aches and pains that weren’t there when our head hit the pillow.
This could mean that you need to replace your sleep set-up with the best mattress or best pillow, but it can be even simpler than that. Taking a few minutes in the morning to warm up your body and ease into the day with a good stretch is incredibly beneficial to your wellbeing.
Stretching in general is good for you, but if you stretch after you’ve woken up, it wakes up the muscles, increases blood flow and improves posture. Stretching in the morning also makes you feel more awake and tends to any soreness and strain that you may have developed overnight.
Instead of immediately jumping out of bed every morning, try these 7 stretches for a productive day. While you don’t have to follow this full stretching routine, if you do, you’ll start in bed and come to a standing position when you finish. To give your body some extra TLC, do these 8 stretches before bed for a great night’s sleep and follow it up with this routine in the morning – your body will thank you!
Note: If you feel any pain or discomfort from these stretches, stop doing them and speak to a doctor if the pain persists.
1. Full body stretch
The first move is the full body stretch which is the best stretch to start with if you’ve just woken up. This move releases tightness in the body, improves posture and flexibility and helps with back pain.
Start on your back, reach your arms behind your head and push away with your palms. At the same time, stretch out your legs and try to make your body as straight and outstretched as possible. Hold this pose for a few breaths before releasing it on an exhale. You can do this stretch a few times to wake up your body and release tension.
2. Knee to chest stretch
This next stretch focuses on your hips and lower back. It’s a brilliant stretch to help relieve any pressure on the spine and wakes your legs up, too. You can do this stretch by bending both legs at the same time or you can take one leg at a time.
Still on your back, bring your left knee into your chest and hold it there with your arms and hands while keeping your right leg straight. You should feel a stretch in your lower back and down the back of the thigh on your bent leg. Hold this stretch for a few breaths before lowering your knee down and swapping sides. If doing this stretch one leg at a time is uncomfortable, you can bring both knees into your chest instead.
3. Forward bend
Next, the forward bend stretch is great for many different parts of your body. It mainly targets your hips, hamstrings and calves, but this stretch can also relieve tension in the spine, neck and back and strengthen your thighs, knees and abs.
Come to a seated position in your bed. Keeping your legs straight, reach forward as far as you can with your arms without straining. Focus on lengthening your spine as you reach towards your feet. Once you’ve got to the farthest point you can do, drop your neck so you’re almost curled on top of yourself. Hold this position for a few breaths or as long as it feels comfortable before slowly lifting your torso back up.
4. Spinal reach
Up next is the spinal reach. This stretch lengthens your back and spine, and improves range of motion. If you suffer from back pain, this stretch can also reduce any soreness or tightness.
To do this stretch, stay in a seated position in bed, either in the forward bend position or a cross legged position. Sit up straight and reach your arms overhead. Intertwine your fingers and push your hands upwards with your palms towards the ceiling. In this stretch, you should feel it in your back and arms. You can stay like this with your arms above your head or take your arms over to the left and right to create a side stretch. Hold this stretch for a few breaths before bringing your arms back down.
5. Cobra stretch
This next stretch can be done in bed or on your bedroom floor, depending on what feels best for you. The cobra stretch improves posture, lower back pain and it's also been reported to reduce inflammation.
Start by lying on your stomach. Place your hands on the floor beneath your shoulders and tuck your elbows in by your sides. Raise up your head, chest and stomach while keeping your hips and lower half on the bed or ground. If this stretch feels uncomfortable or too severe, drop your stomach down and just have your head and chest lifted. In this pose, keep your neck and shoulders down and try to avoid bunching them up around your head. Hold this stretch for a few breaths before gently lowering yourself back down.
6. Shoulder stretch
Now that you’ve warmed up your back and lower body, come to a standing position for a shoulder stretch. This stretch can be done in bed but as you’ve done most of the routine from there, now is a good time to get out from the covers for an upper body stretch. Unsurprisingly, the shoulder stretch targets the shoulders and neck, and can reduce pain, injury and increase mobility.
Start in a standing position with your arms by your sides and your shoulders relaxed. Reach your left arm across your body and use your right arm to deepen the stretch by holding the arm in place or pulling it further across the chest. Hold this stretch for a few breaths before switching arms. During this stretch, you can also work in a few neck stretches by moving your neck side to side and back and forth gently.
7. Calf stretch
The final stretch in this routine is a calf stretch. This stretch activates your leg muscles, relieves soreness and helps with flexibility. We recommend doing this stretch while placing your hands on the wall for extra support and a deeper stretch.
Start by placing your hands on the wall, then take your left leg back and bring your right leg forward with a bend at the knee. This stretch is almost like a lunge but is more focused on the calf rather than the thigh. Push your heel towards the ground to really feel the stretch. Additionally, your arms will warm up when you push against the wall in this stretch. Hold this for a few breaths before changing to the opposite side.
Voila, you’re done! This routine (or a couple of these stretches if you’re running late) give your body the gentle kickstart that it needs to have a productive and energised day. For more stretching advice, check out our beginner’s guide to the best stretching exercises.