Great Stretches to Do in the Morning
Starting out your day by stretching is an amazing way to wake up your muscles to prepare them for what lies ahead. It leaves your body looser and helps you feel energized. When you’re working from home for long periods of time, it can also set the tone for your busy day by calming you and helping you get focused.
Stretching is such an easy activity to add to your morning routine, and doing it will likely leave you feeling more positive and motivated to seize the day. Try using some of these stretches each morning right when you wake up.
To do the cat-cow, begin on your hands and knees. Your shoulders and hips should be aligned with your hands and knees, respectively. Breathe in and lower your chest while pushing your hips and shoulder blades back. Now raise your chin and chest upward and look forward. This is the cow position.
To get into the cat, exhale and lift your belly button toward your spine, rounding your back toward the sky. Return to the cow position. Repeat 10 times. Starting the day with the cat-cow stretch can prepare your upper body for whatever movement comes throughout the day, as it stretches your entire spine.
Start by lying on your stomach with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Now simultaneously lift your upper body and bend your arms so that your elbows, forearms and palms are on the floor. Try to raise your chest and pull your shoulders back as much as you can without arching your lower back too much.
Most of the bend should be in your upper back. Now lean your head back, engage your core and take 10 deep breaths while holding this position. Cobra pose stretches your chest and upper back to strengthen your spine and shoulders.
Begin by lying on your back with your arms stretched out to form your body into a “T” shape. Using your core muscles, lift one leg, bend it and then move it down toward the opposite side to rest your knee on the floor. Your shoulders should be touching the floor.
Next, turn your neck so you’re looking the opposite way that your knee is facing. Stay in this position for 10 seconds, breathing deeply in and out. Now repeat on the opposite side. The spinal twist stretches your back and spinal muscles while increasing circulation.
Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor shoulder-width apart, closer to your butt than normal. Push your body upward with your heels to lift your hips from the floor until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
Now engage your glutes and core, ensuring you don’t arch your back, before lowering your body back to the floor. Repeat 20 times. Glute bridges activate your lower back, glutes and hamstrings while opening up your hip flexors. This is especially helpful for people sitting at a desk all day while working from home.
Begin on your hands and knees. While squeezing your glutes, pull in your stomach, bringing your shoulder blades down and your head and spine aligned. Hold this position while lifting your left arm and right leg to form a straight line. Now, bend your left arm and right leg to bring your elbow to your knee.
Hold this pose for a few seconds, extend again and then go back to all fours. Complete 10 reps before repeating with the opposite arm and leg. This stretch gets your whole body activated, particularly your erector spinae and trunk. It helps with improving your posture and stabilizing your lower body.
Knees to Chest
Start by lying flat on your back. Take a deep breath and bend your knees, placing your feet flat on the floor. Using your hands, slowly bring your knees toward your chest. Now, wrap your arms around your shins and hug your knees in toward your chest. Hold here for 10 deep breaths.
You can also do this stretch one leg at a time. Either way, it’ll activate your lower back and animate your mind and body, preparing them for the day. It’s almost like giving yourself a hug!
Sitting Forward Fold
Start by sitting on the floor with your chest out and your legs extended in front of you. Then, take a deep breath and begin to fold your body forward, walking your fingers alongside your legs on either side toward your feet. Make sure to keep your legs straight while trying to lengthen your spine.
Each time you inhale, attempt to stretch your spine further. If you can grab your feet, do so. If not, just stretch as far as you can. Stay here for 10 seconds. This move is great for stretching your hamstrings, spine and pelvis.
Begin by sitting cross-legged on the floor. Gently tilt your head to the right toward your shoulder, trying to touch your shoulder with your ear. Your left arm should be extended out at an angle to your left side. Stop bending once you feel the stretch, and keep your shoulders from lifting up.
Stay here for 15 seconds, inhaling and exhaling deeply. Repeat on the opposite side. Continue for 10 reps on each side. Stretching your neck is important in the morning to relieve tension because your neck can easily get stiff from incorrect positions while sleeping. If you’re working from home, you can also pause throughout the day and do this stretch at your desk.
Start by sitting on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Bend your right leg and cross it over the left so that your right foot is flat on the floor next to your left thigh. Slowly twist your body, using your left elbow pressed against the outside of your right knee.
Twist your torso and neck as far as you can and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. This pose stretches your back, neck, hips and shoulders. It also energizes your spine and opens your chest and ribcage.
Lie on your back with your knees and hips bent into 90-degree angles. Reach your arms to the ceiling and engage your abs, making sure your lower back is flat on the floor. Stretch one hand back behind your head, straight out from your shoulder. At the same time, stretch the opposite leg straight out, holding it just above the floor for a few seconds.
Return to the starting position and do the same stretching with the opposite sides. Complete 10 reps on each side. Deadbug is great for your core, helping you get your spine ready for movement throughout the day.
Standing Quad Stretch
Begin by standing with your feet spread only slightly apart. Bend your left knee so your foot is behind your thigh and stretch your left arm back to grab your ankle. With your left hand, pull your knee as far as possible, and stay in this position for 30 seconds. Now repeat the same thing on the right side. Repeat this five times per leg.
If you can maintain your balance without holding onto anything, do it. Otherwise, use your free hand to assist your balance. This stretches your quads while relieving tension in your hips, lower back and spine.
Begin in a standing position. Lunge your right leg to the side with a wide step and bend your right knee 90 degrees. Your left leg should be extended out to the left side and perfectly straight. Both feet should be flat on the floor and facing straight in front of you. Now, lean your upper body forward ever so slightly.
Your arms can hang, or you can hold your hands in front of your chest. Hold this pose for 30 seconds before switching to the opposite side. The side lunge stretches your adductors while strengthening your glutes, hamstrings and thighs.
Begin on your hands and knees, and move your hands so they’re directly beneath your shoulders. Step your feet back with your legs stretched. Your body should be aligned from your head down to your heels as you look at the floor. Now squeeze your core, glutes and quads. Hold for one minute.
If necessary, you can do this in two 30-second intervals instead. The plank activates all of your core muscles and some in your arms and legs. It’s great for posture, allowing you to put less pressure on your spine and hips.
Start by lying on your stomach. Stretch your arms upward behind you while bending your knees to grab your ankles. As you inhale, keep the tops of your shoulders away from your ears and pull your heels away from your bottom. Keep your groin planted to the floor and your back muscles loose.
Continue to lift your heels and thighs upward as you open your chest, looking straight forward. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat twice more. This stretches the whole front of your body, your ankles, groin, thighs, core, chest and hip flexors, while strengthening your back muscles.
Begin on your hands and knees. Exhale while at the same time straightening both your arms and legs without locking your knees. Plant your heels and palms into the floor, stretch your fingers and let your head reach toward your feet.
Gently draw your chest toward your thighs, breathing deeply in and out. Hold here for 10 seconds. Downward-Facing Dog stretches your hamstrings, calves, shoulders and spine as it builds strength in your legs, shoulders and arms.
Stand up with your feet spread wide apart. Now turn your left foot so your toes are facing forward. Your right foot should be at a 45-degree angle. Extend your arms out on either side of your shoulders. Then stretch to the left, reaching as far as you can.
Breathe in and bend your body leftward, with your left hand reaching to touch your left ankle and your right arm reaching straight up. Look up and hold here for 30 seconds before switching to the opposite side. Triangle Pose targets and stretches your hamstrings, groin, hips, chest and shoulders.
Kneel on the floor, sitting on your heels with your big toes touching and your knees hip-width apart. Now exhale and fold your upper body toward your thighs, stretching your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and the top of your head away from your neck.
From here, you can either place your arms beside you with your palms up or stretch your arms in front of your shoulders with your palms down, stretching your shoulders outward or forward, respectively. Stay here for at least a minute. Child’s Pose lightly stretches your back, shoulders, hips, ankles and thighs.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your core engaged. Bring your left leg forward with your heel pressed to the floor and your toes pointed up. Your left leg and your back should be straight. At the same time, bend your right knee as if you were about to sit down.
Reach your left arm out so you can grab your toes with your left hand. If you can’t grab your toes, reach as far as you can. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. With this move, you’re stretching your hamstrings and preventing lower back pain.
Begin in a seated position. Bring the bottoms of your feet together to touch, and grab your feet with your hands. Pull your feet closer to your body. Slowly lower your chest down toward your feet. Continue lowering your chest until you can’t anymore. Make sure you’re keeping your spine long and lowering through your chest rather than your head and neck.
Either keep holding your feet or stretch your arms out in front of you with your palms down. Hold there for 30 seconds, release and repeat twice more. Butterfly Pose stretches your hips, hip flexors, inner thighs and back.
Warrior One Pose
Begin by standing up and taking a huge step backward with your left foot. Rotate your left foot 45 degrees outward. Bend your right leg so your knee makes a 90-degree angle. Your knee should be directly above your ankle, and your back leg should be straight.
Raise both arms up toward the sky, putting your palms together and tilting your head back to gaze upward. While doing this, try raising your chest upward to stretch your back. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side. Warrior One stretches your chest, shoulders, neck, stomach, thighs and groin.
Backward Frog Stretch
Begin on all fours but with your knees wide, out past your shoulders. Flex both of your feet, turning them out so your toes are pointed toward each side. Lower your upper body down until your chin is resting on the floor, with your arms stretched out or slightly bent over your head.
If it’s too hard to rest your chin on the floor, rest your forehead on the floor. Stay in this position for 10 seconds. The frog stretch opens your lower back, hips and groin, stretching the muscles in your lower back, hips and adductors.
Happy Baby Pose
Start by lying on your back. As you exhale, bend both knees up toward your core. On an inhale, grab each big toe, looping two fingers around the toes from inside out. Spread your knees apart wider than your torso. Now, slowly bring your knees toward your armpits.
Move each ankle directly over its respective knee with your shins perpendicular to the floor. Flex your heels and push your feet upward against the tension of your fingers so you feel resistance. Hold here for a minute or longer. Happy Baby Pose lightly stretches your spine and inner groin.
Go for a Walk
Going for a walk at a casual or moderate pace in the morning has plenty of health benefits. To begin with, when you walk, you’re moving your whole body, which gives you an immediate boost of energy, improves your mood and lowers stress.
At the same time, you’re getting some real physical activity, which can help you manage your weight and keep your heart healthy. Walking in the morning can also relieve stiff muscles and joints. If you’ll be sitting at your desk working all day, this is a great time to get some movement in — before you’re busy later on.
Begin by lying on your back with your knees in a cross-legged position and your arms beside your body, palms down. Press your elbows and forearms into the floor to lift your chest, arching your upper back, shoulder blades and upper torso off the floor. Tilt your head back so that the top of your head is on the floor.
When you release from the pose, use your forearms, never putting your body weight on your head. Fish Pose stretches your chest, neck, core, hip flexors and intercostals while strengthening your back and neck muscles.
Start by lying on your back with your arms by your sides. Your palms should be face down, your knees should be bent and your feet should be on the floor. Now slowly raise your body until your knees make a 90-degree angle and your shoulders are pressed to the floor. Tuck in your chin. Engage your core and glutes while stretching your stomach.
Hold this position for 15 seconds while inhaling and exhaling deeply before lowering back to the floor. Repeat five times. The bridge position stretches and strengthens your core, glutes, lower back and hamstrings.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Engage your thigh muscles, lift your inner ankles and knee caps and turn your upper thighs inward, all without lifting your feet. Stretch your tailbone toward the floor, lifting your pubis upward. Pull your shoulder blades back toward each other.
Your jaw should be parallel to the floor. Stay engaged like this for at least one minute, breathing normally. Mountain Pose strengthens your ankles, knees, thighs, abdomen and glutes while improving your posture.
Begin on your hands and knees. Bring your right knee up so it’s beneath your chest, extending your left leg out behind you. Place your palms on the floor, and bring your right foot toward the outer side of your left hip, lifting your chest up toward the ceiling.
Now bend forward and lean down so that you’re eventually resting your forehead on your hands. Stay there for 10 deep breaths before repeating on the opposite side. Pigeon Pose stretches your thighs and glutes, lengthens your hip flexors and extends your groin.
For the Eagle Arms stretch, sit in a comfortable position. This could be kneeling, cross-legged or whatever works for you. Cross your right arm under your left arm so they’re twisted together. Your palms should then meet. Raise your elbows so they’re about level with your shoulders. You should feel your upper back stretching.
Take five deep breaths. Cross your arms the other way and repeat. This move stretches your elbows, wrists, shoulders and upper back. It also improves your posture by straightening your spine and removing stress from your shoulders and lower neck.
Standing Half-Forward Bend
Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. While exhaling, bend forward from your hips, not your waist. As your upper body lowers, expand your belly out and lengthen your torso. Keep your legs straight and place your hands just above your knees. Look forward without compressing your neck.
With each inhale, lengthen your torso and stretch your shoulders apart from one another. Stay here for one minute. When you come back up into a standing position, make sure to keep your torso lengthened rather than rolling your spine. This move stretches the front of your torso and strengthens your back.
Lying Figure 4 Stretch
While lying on your back, lift your right foot to cross over your left knee. It should look like the number 4. Now slowly bend your left knee, lifting your left foot off the floor and eventually holding your left thigh. Hug your thigh toward your chest. Try to keep your right knee bent out to the right to hold the 4 shape.
Stay in this position for five seconds, taking deep breaths for each second. Then switch to the opposite side. This stretch gets your hip joints, glutes and thighs ready for the day.