By Zerline Hughes
When you wake up, do you jump right out bed and sprint through your home to accomplish your morning to do list?
Or, does it takes you a few minutes to hoist yourself into sitting position, uncreak your arms and legs into a standing position, and slowly meander throughout the house in order to get things going?
Either way, the very first thing we should do when that morning alarm sounds is stretch. Not like that arms up, yawn kinda stretch. I’m talking a wake-up-those-muscles-and-feel-something stretch.
I know, I know: time is short, so we don’t have to get into a 30-minute-long, full-out stretch routine (but if you do have the time, why not). For those of us whose time is short, take about two to five minutes to warm up your body and prepare it for what’s to come – a day of walking, stressing, rushing, tensing up and – for so many of us – sitting.
- A yoga-inspired child’s pose while transitioning out of bed from your stomach will stretch out your back, arms and thighs.
- Sit upright and slowly turn your head to the left and right a few times, holding for a few counts for each direction. This will limit neck, shoulder and back tension.
- While sitting, lean to your right side, and then to your left while leaning your upper-body weight on your forearm and elbow. This will get the kinks out of your back and sides.
- While lying or sitting, point your toes and circle your ankles. Wake up those feet and calves.
- Lie on your back and let your shoulders and neck dangle gently from the bed (pictured). This will stretch out everything before you crunch your body into your driver’s seat or office chair.
And done. Not bad, right?
Find that you have no time in the morning? Or maybe you’re in need of even more movement during the day due to sitting at a desk all day? Try a mid-morning or mid-day stretch while at work. If you have your own personal office space, do a few standing squats against a wall or your door. Get down on the floor and stretch out your core with a few planks. Or keep it simple (pun intended) with Real Simple Magazine’s great, inconspicuous at-work stretch tips:
- Tuck your chin to your chest
Drop your head down and tuck in your chin. Slowly turn your chin toward your left shoulder, and then slowly turn toward your right shoulder. Repeat this move up to 10 times.
Tip: Don’t make complete circles by tilting your head back, as this can put stress on your spine.
- Stretch your shoulder
Stand or sit up straight in your chair, with your shoulders down. Keeping your head and neck stable, slowly roll your shoulders forward, up, and then back to complete a full circle. Concentrate on creating as large a circle as possible without scrunching your shoulders toward your ears. Repeat the circle 10 times in one direction and then 10 in the opposite direction.
- Stretch your back and chest
Sit or stand up tall with your arms out to the side, elbows bent, palms forward, and fingers pointed upward toward the ceiling. Keeping your spine straight, press your arms back until you feel a slight stretch in your chest and shoulders. Hold this for 30 seconds, then rest. Do this 10 times.4
But wait: there’s more. Check out a few other stretching tips and let me know if your body feels better after trying them for a week or two: