Good Morning Stretch

One of my favorite things when I wake up in the morning is that great big yawning stretch. It’s instinctual to want to reach out and breath deep to start the day. The mornings that I get up and don’t have time to do a full work-out I’ll make sure to do a bit of stretching, meditating, core work, or whatever else my body feels like it needs that day. It gives me a boost of energy and motivation for the rest of the day and also kick starts my metabolism.

Because the vertebral disks have a tendency to swell a bit during your sleep, it’s not always comfortable to begin stretching immediately after waking up. I prefer to walk around my apartment a little, get a glass of water, sit for a few minutes and then when I’m feeling a bit more awake I’ll get started. It won’t help me if I decide to meditate only because I want a few more minutes of sleep…

My fifteen minute routine:

-First, child’s pose taking slow even breaths

-Gently move into downward dog (staying in that pose I’ll tread my feet to work through the ankles and get the blood flowing)

-Go back into child’s pose and then move into a plank position (Here I’ll focus on pressing into my hands so that my rib cage doesn’t sag away from my shoulder blades and I’ll either hold this for a few seconds or do a couple push-up depending on my energy level)

-Back to child’s pose and then tucking my toes under I’ll shift my weight into a low squat and then slowly straighten my legs, hanging my torso over. This is an intense stretch on the hamstrings and if you are able to release the muscles of the back, it’s a little bit of traction on the spine)

-Very slowly, roll up to standing. (you can repeat this sequence if you’d like before moving on to the core)

-Next, grab a swiss ball and lay back on it with arms wide to open up the chest. (If you don’t own a swiss ball, think about purchasing one, they are great exercise and stretching tools and relatively inexpensive. Most manufacturers have height charts because they come in a variety of sizes and you’ll want to get the appropriate diameter for your height.)

-Crunches on a swiss ball are challenging so you can do fewer reps with the same effect. (If you can extend your legs and keep your balance this will inhibit the hip flexors making your abs work harder.)

-Walk your feet out slightly so that you are in a supported bridge position with the ball under your upper back you can bend and straighten your knees to work the glutes and hamstrings.

-A deep runners lunge will stretch out the hip flexors. (If that is too intense you can put your back knee down into a kneeling position and gently press the pelvis forward to open the front of the hip.)

-End sitting on the floor, bend the right leg and cross it over the left. Use your left arm to pull the bent leg close to you to stretch the glutes. Reach back behind you with your right arm and twist your torso to increase the stretch. Sit up tall and take a few deep breaths before switching sides.

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