8 Morning Stretches That Make You Stronger And More Flexible

stretchesBeauty and FItness

Lots of people stretch in the morning. It’s a great, positive way to start your day. But not all stretches are created equal. Some work better than others, and they all do different things for the body.

If you want to perform stretches that truly help your muscle strength while keeping you nice and limber, look no further.

8 Morning Stretches That Make You Stronger And More Flexible

1.    Standing Side Stretch

This great stretch is a wonderful way to get your shoulders engaged. At the same time, it works wonders for the upper back, and it is even good for your core muscles. As you move from side to side, you’ll also be training your body’s flexibility. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Start by standing with your feet slightly apart at about a hip’s width.
  2. Move your hands together so that your palms are pressed against one another with the index fingers pointing.
  3. Move your hands, still clasped against each other, over your head and hold the position.
  4. Now, lean your body slowly to one side. Focus on deeply inhaling and exhaling as you do so. Count about 5 calm breaths, or for between 10 and 15 seconds, feeling a deep and lovely stretch throughout your sides.
  5. Return to your first starting position.
  6. Repeat step IV, this time leaning to the other side.
  7. Do this for at least 4 reps.

2.    Standing Forward Bend

yoga

This simple version of the yoga move, known as Uttanasana, has countless benefits. It’s good for the kidneys, liver, and digestive system, it boosts positive thinking while reducing stress, and it can even help calm headaches.

More importantly, this pose is perfect for strengthening your legs. It works your thighs, hips, knees, calves, and hamstrings. Plus, bending over that way isn’t easy, so with repeated use, it makes you much more flexible. Here’s how to do it!

  1. Start by standing with your feet slightly apart at about a hip’s width. Your knees should be slightly bent.
  2. Lean forward, using your hips as a “hinge” of sorts, until your upper body drapes over your legs.
  3. At this point, you should be able to clasp your elbows. If you have lower back pain, instead of grabbing your elbows, rest your hands on your legs or on the floor so you are more supported.
  4. Focus on deeply inhaling and exhaling. Count about 2 to 4 calm breaths. As you breathe and hold the position, shake your head “no” to the side and “yes” up and down – but do so gently.
  5. When you’re ready to come out of the stretch, use your ab muscles to gently extend your spine and pull yourself back in very gradually.
  6. Do this two more times, or more if you like.

3.    Standing Hamstring Stretch

sciatica stretches

As the name suggests, this stretch focuses on your hamstrings. But it’s not just a one-muscle strengthening move. It activates the legs, especially around the back, and it can have great, positive effects on lower back pain. So if you’re looking to ease some back issues while getting stronger, here are the steps for this move.

  1. To begin, find a low object that can support your leg. It should end up with your heel naturally lower than your hip at the most relaxed and unstretched position. A chair or bed usually works fine.
  2. Lift your right leg onto the object of choice and make sure you are supported. Your heel should rest on the surface.
  3. Flex your foot and slowly deepen the stretch. To do this, use your hips as a “hinge” and increase the stretch. Make sure your waist, back, and spine are straight, not rounded.
  4. Focus on deeply inhaling and exhaling. Count about 4 to 6 calm breaths, then release the stretch.
  5. Repeat this on your other leg.
  6. For more of a challenge, slowly choose taller and taller objects to rest your leg on so you lift your leg higher each time.

4.    Spinal Twist

sciatica

The spinal twist is fantastic for shaking off aches and stiffness from the night’s sleep. It works your neck, spine, and shoulders. Make sure you don’t over-twist, though!

There are two ways to do a spinal twist. First, let’s talk about the lying down way.

  1. Start by lying on your back.
  2. Lift up your right knee and move it so that it is now on the opposing side.
  3. Stretch out your left arm and turn your head to the left, slowly and gently. Make sure your arm stays in line with the shoulders and that your shoulders are down and touching the surface beneath.
  4. Focus on deeply inhaling and exhaling. Enjoy the stretch spreading through your back.
  5. When ready, switch to the other side.

Now, here’s how to do it when sitting.

  1. Start by sitting on either a chair or the edge of your bed. Have your legs together.
  2. Slowly lengthen out your spine and twist at the waist, rotating yourself to the right.
  3. As you do this, move your right hand so it is behind your back, and place your left hand on your right outer thigh.
  4. Turn your neck along with your body and look over your shoulder.
  5. Focus on deeply inhaling and exhaling. Count about 2 to 3 calm breaths, then release the stretch.
  6. Repeat, this time twisting to the left.

5.    Standing Quad Stretch

yoga for lower back pain

Once again, this stretch’s name tells you what it does: it focuses on your quadriceps. It also helps to practice balance, and it can improve your leg flexibility if you perform it often enough. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Start by standing with your feet slightly apart at about a hip’s width. Stand straight. You can use a wall, bed, or chair for additional support if you need help with balance.
  2. Loosen up your left knee and reach backwards with your right hand, grabbing your right ankle or any area of your right foot that feels comfortable.
  3. Bend your right knee so that it is pointing at the ground beneath.
  4. Your thighs should be parallel now, your pelvis in a neutral position, your chin up so the top of your head reaches for the sky, and your spine nice and tall.
  5. Focus on deeply inhaling and exhaling. Count about 4 to 6 calm breaths, and feel your right thigh and hips enjoying the stretch.
  6. Release, then repeat with the other leg.

6.    Neck And Shoulder Stretch

neck shoulder stretch

You may wonder, how can neck and shoulder moves that ease tension also have strengthening qualities? You’d be surprised that they are morning stretches that make you feel stronger and more flexible!

Neck and shoulder pain after a good sleep often comes with age. But that doesn’t mean you can’t relieve the tension! Here’s how to do a combined neck and shoulder stretching sequence.

  1. Sit cross-legged.
  2. Start by tilting your head so your left ear is directly over your left shoulder.
  3. Hold this pose for around 15 to 20 seconds.
  4. Repeat by tilting your head to the right this time.
  5. Now, pause to relax and breathe. Then, bring your shoulders to the back in a rolling motion.
  6. Bring your shoulders to the front in a rolling motion.
  7. Lift your shoulders upwards, keeping the muscles tense, so they reach your ears.
  8. Drop your shoulders entirely.
  9. Now, repeat all these steps again another three times.

Alternatively, you can do these exercises separately. Here’s how to do a neck stretch on its own.

  1. Choose a neutral starting position. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed.
  2. Start by tilting your head so your left ear is over your left shoulder.
  3. Hold this pose for around 15 to 20 seconds.
  4. Repeat by tilting your head to the right this time.
  5. Repeat as many times as you like.

Here’s how to do a shoulder stretch on its own.

  1. Choose a neutral starting position. Have your shoulder blades down and back.
  2. Start by reaching your right arm to cross over your body as far as you can.
  3. Use your left arm to lengthen and deepen this stretch.
  4. Hold this pose for around 15 to 20 seconds.
  5. Repeat on the other arm.
  6. Repeat as many times as you like.

7.    Straight Calf Stretch

Once again, this stretch’s name speaks for itself: it gets rid of calf tension wonderfully well, and as time goes on, you’ll notice you can do deeper stretches – a sure sign of increased flexibility. Here’s how the stretch goes.

  1. Start by facing a wall.
  2. Hold your arms out in front of you so that they rest against the wall, but keep them straight.
  3. Move your right leg a step forward, keeping the foot planted on the ground.
  4. Extend your left leg backwards, also keeping it firmly planted on the ground. Your heel should be pushing against the floor beneath.
  5. Lean forward into the wall, but do not bend your back leg. Lean until you feel that your calf muscles are engaging.
  6. Focus on deeply inhaling and exhaling. Count about 10-15 seconds, or 30 if you’re up for it, and feel your right left calf enjoying the stretch.
  7. Release the stretch and repeat on the other side.
  8. Do this for two more sets, and try to perform the stretch again later so you do it twice a day.

8.    Elevated Hip Stretch

sciatic stretch

This is perhaps the most difficult stretch on our list, but it’s a great way to really work on flexibility while relieving pain. It focuses on the outer thighs and hips, but it’s also good for helping lower back pain. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Stand in front of a bed. You can also use a bench or chair.
  2. Lift your left leg, bending the knee, and place it down on the bed. When you do this, your knee should end up in front of your shoulder and your hips should be square. Do not tuck in your tailbone.
  3. Keeping your spine nice and straight, use your hips as a “hinge” so you bend forward. If you have difficulty with this, place your hands onto the surface for added balance.
  4. Focus on deeply inhaling and exhaling. Count about 4 to 6 calm breaths, then release the stretch.
  5. Repeat with the other leg.

Final Thoughts On Morning Stretches That Make You Stronger And More Flexible

Stretches are a mild form of exercise – and exercise is endlessly good for you! It gives you energy for the day, boosts your positive thinking, and adds great benefits such as strength and flexibility.

Pick and choose which of these morning stretches work best for you, or do them all for best results! Just remember not to strain yourself – take it slowly and build your way up!

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