Start Your Morning Off Right With Stretching

Start Your Morning Off Right With Stretching

Find out how a few simple stretches can start your morning off right.

By: Summer Saldana

It seems the most natural thing for people to do when they first wake up (even before running to the coffee pot) is to reach up and get a nice, good stretch. And just as your coffee may help to set your day, so will these important few moments of stretching you give yourself. There are real benefits to these sleepy moments that may come as a surprise. As always, consult a physician before embarking on anything physical!

Promotes Relaxation and Stress Relief
It’s so easy to jump right into our busy days, but when you take a few minutes before diving head-fist into the daily grind, you will experience a fresh feeling of relaxation and stress relief. This is because stretching is known to release stress and tension.

Increases Circulation
Stretching increases the blood flow to your muscles and brain, which then helps to carry nutrients to your body. It also gives you even more energy throughout the day. Who knows — after a good stretch, you might not even need that cup of coffee! (Maybe.)

Increases Flexibility
Because continual stretching lengthens your muscles, over time you will be amazed at your newfound flexibility. Not only does this simply feel better, but it also helps you to avoid injury and pain!

So, before you grab your coffee and go, we suggest starting with three to five minutes — possibly working up to 10 to 15 minutes each morning — to stretch and breathe. Be slow and intentional to avoid muscle tears, and be sure to hold each stretch for minimum 20 to 30 seconds. (Keep an eye on the clock to keep you from over-stretching — or being late!)


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Easy Stretches to Begin With
Neck stretch: Standing in an upright position, interlace your fingers and place your hands behind your head. Take your gaze to the floor and gently apply pressure with your hands to the back of your head. Hold this stretch to the count of 20. Then, continue to stand in this upright position, and look straight ahead. Relax your shoulders and tilt your head toward your right shoulder, just as though you were trying to touch your ear to it. Take your right hand and place it on the top left side of your head and gently apply pressure. Hold for 20 seconds, and repeat on the other side.

Shoulder Stretch: Continue standing and extend your right arm shoulder height in front of your body, palm down. With your left arm, hook the right elbow and pull the right arm across your chest, gently. Hold for 20 seconds, and repeat on the other side. You should feel this stretch in your upper back and shoulders.

Forward Bend: Starting in an upright standing position, lock your knees. Slowly and carefully roll down towards your toes. Depending on your flexibility, you may need to stop at your calves, or you may be able to set your palms firmly on the floor. Be gentle with your body, and work for a little more of a reach every morning.

Cat/Cow Stretch: On the floor, get onto all fours, knees bent, palms on the ground. Starting with a neutral spine, slowly arch the middle of your back towards the ceiling as you take your gaze to the floor (cat pose for yoga practitioners). Then slowly move back towards the neutral spine position but continue the motion on through to stretch the middle of your stomach to the floor (cow pose) as you look up to the ceiling. Repeat this movement several times, making sure to always be aware of your breath.

Remember to go slowly and, with each morning, aim to reach just a little bit farther. Be aware of your breath and body, and allow yourself to feel the incredible benefits of your new morning routine.

Summer is the author of the popular blog Le Musings of Moi, which covers fashion, décor, style, parenting, health, fitness and whatever else interests this mother of two in SoCal. She also writes for Mommalogues and frequently posts videologues to YouTube.

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