If you wake up groggy and feel like a zombie as you go through your a.m. routine, stretching might turn you into a morning person. These stretching workouts could help wake you up and set a healthy tone for the day.
BEGINNER’S MORNING STRETCH
For non-morning people, you can begin this stretching routine without even leaving your bed.
“Start with the feet. Simply flex and extend your foot (point your toes away from you and then toward you). Next, rotate your ankles in each direction. Finally work on spreading the toes wide and relaxing several times.
“Move up the body. Hug one knee at a time to your chest, then both knees together to your chest. Keeping your back flat on the mattress, you can take both knees together and drop them toward one side and then the other for a nice torso rotation.
“Stay on your back for a hip stretch. Move to the edge of the bed and let one foot drop off the bed toward the floor. For an extra stretch, pull your opposite knee to your chest while the other foot is hanging off the bed. (This can help low back pain, as low back pain is caused by tight hips.)
“Put your arms out on the mattress so they look like goal posts. Keep your elbows and hands on the mattress and gently slide your hands up until they touch, then return to starting position and repeat.
— Jill McKay, certified personal trainer and nutrition coach
CLEANSING MORNING STRETCH
If you prefer more of a meditative start to your day, this stretching workout that incorporates lots of breathing will help clear your mind.
“Start in a crossed-legged position. If your knees are much higher than your hips or if you’re uncomfortable in this position, use blankets under your hips to elevate your hips. Rest your hands on the top of your thighs and find a tall, lengthened spine. Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath. Smooth inhales and exhales relax the nervous system and focus energy inward. Stay in this position for about 10 breaths.
“Cross your legs at the shins. Lengthen your spine. On an inhale, lift from your sternum, exhale and twist to the right. You can place your left hand to the outer right thigh as you rotate from the navel to the right rib cage. On each inhale find more space, on an exhale maybe twist deeper. Hold for 5 breaths. Unwind gently and repeat on other side.
“Come to a table-top position with your hands under your shoulders; knees under hips. Spread wide through the fingers, hug your naval in slightly. On an inhale, draw your chest between your arms (cow pose), exhale, scoop the belly and round the back (cat pose). Move with your breath, and do cat-cow 5–10 times.
— Melissa Okabe, yoga instructor
RUNNER’S MORNING STRETCH
Wake up with lactic acid built up in your legs? These subtle stretches can work out the pain from running.
“Start on your hands and knees. Fold your chest into your quads by raising the hips up to the ceiling in a downdog position. Hold there as you feel a stretch in your hamstrings and carefully return back to your starting position.
“Start on your knees with your ankle and foot relaxed. Lean your chest into your legs and extend your arms ahead and reach to feel extension along your spine. Oscillate to place more pressure in your hands and straighten out the arms as more of your quads make contact with the ground. Your finished position should be a head back, chin raised up, with arms extended and hips on the ground.
“Begin with one leg in front of the other. Your front knee should be bent and your back leg should be straight. Apply more bodyweight into the front leg and imagine there is a stake running through your back heel. Hold that stretch for 30–60 seconds as you feel your calf lengthen. (This is known as your traditional runner’s stretch.)
“Look straight up to the ceiling. Relax your jaw to feel a stretch at the front of your neck.”
— James Shapiro, MS, certified personal trainer
ADVANCED MORNING STRETCH
If you already practice yoga or lift weights, this routine gets the blood flowing to your arms ASAP.
“Begin by laying flat, face up, arms out to your sides. Bend your knees. Allowing your feet to stack one on top of the other, rock your knees side to side letting gravity pull them down as far as you can go without letting your shoulders raise up off the floor. Exhale as you drop your knees, inhale at the top. Repeat 5 times per side.
“Next, tuck your belly button in and raise your knees up toward your chest, feet off the ground. Roll your knees 5 times to each side keeping the shoulders down.
“Next lower your feet back down, keeping knees bent. Inhale and, as you exhale, squeeze you abs and raise your hips up off the floor, pushing your heels down into the ground. Lower gently. Repeat 10 times.
“Lie face down, hands by your shoulders. Squeeze your legs and glutes. Inhale and, as you exhale, push your upper body away from the floor. Cobra style. Lower gently. Repeat 10 times.
— Kristian Flores, strength and conditioning coach