10 stretches you should do every morning

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Waking up in the morning feeling stiff and sore is not uncommon – in fact, it happens to almost everyone. As research shows, our bodies naturally supress our anti-inflammatory proteins while we sleep, causing us to sometimes feel achy and rigid when we wake up. Thankfully, loosening up your creaky limbs for the day ahead is simple and easy, and can have lasting benefits throughout the day. Take note of these 10 morning exercises to start your day and put that spring back in your step.

Upper back release

Stand tall with your feet together, flat on the floor. Interlace your fingers and stretch your arms out, turning your palms to face away from you. Stretch your arms out as much as possible, imagining your shoulder blades pulling away from each other. Hold this position for 30 seconds, breathing deeply and relaxing the rest of your body.

Chest release

Find a doorway and grab hold of it with your left arm. Holding tight, pull your body away from the door frame so that your left arm is fully extended and the muscle is stretching. Then, gently turn with your hips and upper body to the right, feeling your chest muscles engage. Hold for 15 seconds, breathing deeply, before switching sides.

Side stretch

Clear yourself some floor space and stand tall with your arms fully outstretched and your legs approximately one metre apart. Then, with both your arms and legs engaged, slowly bend left at the hips until your left fingers are touching your left toes, and your right arm is reaching straight up. If you can’t touch your toes, don’t worry – just try your best. You should feel your right side stretching as you hold the position for 30 seconds before swapping sides.

Seated spinal twist
This one can do wonders for back pain – but you need to be gentle. Sit on the floor or the edge of your bed and, breathing deeply, slowly rotate your body approximately 45 degrees. Be sure to keep your hips in position, and rotate with your spine. Once you’ve rotated, use your arms to hold the position for 10 seconds, before slowly starting on the other side.

Standing hamstring stretch

Find a bench or table no higher than your hip but at least as high as your knee. Steadying yourself as necessary, raise one leg onto the bench. Extend your leg and engage your thigh and calf muscles as you slowly bend towards your toes. Make sure to bend from your hips and keep your back straight, breathing deeply. Aim to touch and hold your toes for at least 15 seconds.

Standing quad stretch

Stand with your feet flat on the ground and hold on to a chair or wall for support. With your left hand, reach down and gently bring your left ankle up so that your heel touches your bottom and your knee points straight down. You should feel a tight pulling in your thigh muscles as you hold the position. Hold for 30 seconds before swapping sides.

Rise and toe touch

Stand with your feet flat on the ground and arms relaxed by your side. Slowly lift your arms above your head, inhaling deeply as you go. Hold the position for 3 seconds before exhaling. As you exhale, begin to reach down towards your toes, ensuring you bend from your hips and not with your spine. Hold the position for 3 seconds before slowly rolling back up, making sure your head lifts up last, and repeat.

Pelvic lift

This is a great one to start with, because it can actually be done in bed! Lie on a flat surface with your arms by your sides, and bend your knees so that your heels almost touch your bottom. Keeping your feet firmly in place, lift your pelvis up so that your body forms a horizontal angle. You should feel this stretch in your lower back and upper thighs. Engage your core as you hold the position for 30 seconds, before relaxing and repeating.

Child’s pose

Another one that can be done in bed! Start by kneeling on a flat surface, then bring your bottom down so that you’re resting on your heels. Lift your arms above your head, then slowly bend forward from your hips until your palms are flat on the ground. Make sure your legs stay tucked under your bottom, as you swing your arms around to grasp your feet. Like the seated spinal stretch, this one is great for back pain, particularly in the lower back.

Arrow stretch
Clear yourself some floor space, and sit down with your legs extended in front of you. Steadying yourself, and taking it as slow as you need to, begin to spread your legs out as wide as possible, forming a ‘V’ shape. Next, lean forward on your palms and begin to crawl forward, bringing your upper body as close to the ground as you can. You should feel this stretch in your inner thighs and lower back. Hold for 30-45 seconds.

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