Let’s face it, getting motivated in the morning isn’t always easy. A cup of coffee and a few feel-good stretches can help. “Muscles stiffen overnight from lack of movement,” says expert. “This results in stiffness of the connective tissue (known as fascia) as well as the muscles.”
Hold each of these stretches for at least two minutes, using only gentle pressure. No warm-up necessary. Mix and match as needed.
FOR CONNECTIVE TISSUE
1. The three-in-one
Lie on your back with your arms outstretched, so that your body is the shape of a T. Bend both knees and bring your right ankle on the left knee, creating a triangle shape between your legs. Keeping your shoulders in place, allow your legs to roll to the left while keep that triangle intact. Repeat on the opposite side.
2. Hip flexor stretch
Scoot to the edge of your bed so that your side lines up with the side of your bed. Let your leg drop off the side and hug the other knee to your chest to support your lower back. You should feel a stretch through the front of your hanging leg’s thigh and hip. Repeat on the opposite side.
3. Child’s pose
Kneel in bed then sit back so that you’re bum is resting on your heels. Gently bend forward until your head touches the mattress. If you need to, fold your arms in front of your face to support your head. Otherwise, reach your arms forward to open connective tissue throughout the shoulders and back.
4. Triple neck stretch
While still lying in bed, use your right hand to gently pull your head towards your right shoulder. You should feel a stretch in the left side. Now, keeping your head to the side, tuck your chin in. Finally, turn your head up as if to look at the ceiling. Use only gentle pressure.
5. Wall-push calf stretch
Stand arm’s length from the wall, with your hands on the wall. Step one foot forward and one foot back. Straighten the back leg, feeling a stretch from knee to ankle. Hold and then slightly bend your back knee while still keeping your heel on the floor. This will move the stretch lower and access deeper layers of calf muscles.
6. Low-back stretch
Lie on your back with knees bent and feel flat on the floor. Using both hands, pull up one knee towards your chest while keeping the other foot on the floor. Bring the leg back to starting position and repeat with the other leg. Then, bring both knees to your chest at the same time. Hold 20-to-30 seconds.
FOR JOINTS & CIRCULATION
7. Down-dog with Swan
“This is a combination of two yoga stretches that opens the hamstrings, calves, hip flexors and chest,” says Wakefield.
Start in pushup position, on toes and hands. Lift hips into the air creating a “V” shape with your body. You should feel as if your legs and back are straight and your chest is pressing down towards the floor with a stretch through the hamstrings and calves. Then slowly lower hips towards the floor. At the same time, scoop your chest forward and up, roll back your shoulders and tilt your head back (if comfortable). Repeat five times.
Stand with abs tight. Slowly roll down to touch the floor, bending your knees if necessary. Walk the hands forward into push-up position. Then walk your feet (inch-by-inch) forward to your hands. Slowly roll back up to standing. Repeat five times, keeping your abdominals tight.
9. Trunk twist
Stand tall with good posture, arms straight out to the sides at shoulder level. Twist your upper body from side to side, keeping hips in place. This will work your abdominals while it loosens your lower back, chest and shoulders.