One of the best ways to start your day in a healthy way is to take a moment to ground your thoughts by stretching and intentionally breathing. It's amazing what you can accomplish in less than seven minutes to set your day on the right path.
When you stretch deeply, you should always be warm. So performing this series after a morning workout or after a hot shower is optimal. If you do it right out of bed, make sure you stretch more gently.
Here are eight stretches to add to your morning routine to feel strong, flexible and grounded. These exercises cover all your major muscle groups and can be followed any time of day, including after your workouts.
Upper Back Release
Targets the upper back and back of shoulders.
Standing with feet hip-distance apart, clasp hands and round upper back keeping arms straight and active.
Think about the shoulder blades spreading wide across your back.
Hold stretch for 2-3 deep breaths.
Targets the chest, front of shoulders and biceps.
Holding a wall, door frame or window ledge with left arm, step forward with left leg and turn entire body to the right especially at the hips.
Hold stretch for 4-6 deep breaths increasing stretch with the pivot at the hips. Repeat on the other side.
Targets the IT band (outer thigh), obliques and shoulders.
Standing with right hand on bed or wall, cross left leg in front of right leg, feet pointing forward.
Shift into the left hip and reach left arm up and over head, creating a long line from the left ankle to the left fingertips.
Hold and take 2-3 deep inhales and exhales. Repeat on right.
Seated Spinal Twist
Targets the spine, neck and shoulders.
Sitting on a chair or edge of bed with legs together, lengthen spine rotate from the waist, placing one hand behind you and the other hand on your outer thigh for support.
For a deeper stretch for the neck, turn your gaze to look over your shoulder as well.
Hold 2-3 deep breaths. Repeat other side.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
Supporting yourself for balance as needed, bring right leg up onto a step or bench, increasing height as flexibility increases. Keep legs hips distance and parallel and keep back leg straight (if possible) and front foot flexed.
If you need to increase stretch, hinge at the hips (not the waist or back), keeping the spine completely straight. Don't round the spine.
Take 4-6 deep breaths. Repeat other side.
Standing Quad Stretch
Holding a chair, wall or bed for support, stand with feet hip-distance apart. Soften left knee and reach for your right foot or ankle, bending the right knee to point straight down to the floor.
Keep pelvis neutral and spine tall with the crown of your head reaching to the ceiling.
Hold for 4-6 deep breaths. Repeat other side.
Outer Hip Stretch
Targets hips and outer thighs.
Lift left leg, knee bent, onto bed. Square off hips and make sure front knee is outside of front shoulder.
Keeping tailbone untucked and spine straight, hinge forward at the hips, placing hands on the bed for support.
Hold for 4-6 deep breaths then change sides.
Standing Forward Bend
Targets hamstrings and lower back.
Standing with feet hip-distance apart and knees slightly bent, hinge forward at the hips. Allow your upper body to hang over your legs and clasp elbows.
(Note: Do not "hang" from elbows if you have any lower back issues. Instead, place hands on floor or legs for support.)
Hold for 2-3 deep breaths while you gently shake your head no and even more gently nod your head yes. To come up, pull in abs and gently round up one vertebra at a time.
What is your favorite way to start the day on a healthy note? Do you have a regular stretching routine?
About the Author
Suzanne Bowen encourages excellence, not perfection. Her mission is to inspire people to be the best versions of themselves that they can be. Classically trained at the prestigious Lotte Berk Method in NYC, Suzanne Bowen is the creator of Suzanne Bowen Fitness, an efficient mind-body technique that combines cutting-edge cardio, intelligent strengthening and dynamic stretching. Students flock to Suzanne because of her encouraging, no nonsense, straightforward teaching approach that provides targeted and overall results while guiding people to be the best they can be. From her training in modern and classical dance, Pilates, yoga and deep stretching, Suzanne has also developed the highly successful BarreAmped program that is licensed to over 50 studios worldwide and continues to grow under her tutelage. "BarreAmped" and "BarreAmped Boot Camp," are her newest DVDs and epitomize the best of her Barre targeted workouts.
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