10 Wake-up stretches to help you get up and go
Stretching first thing in the morning gives you a healthy start to your day; it's an opportunity to gather your thoughts and focus on your breathing as well as boost your flexibility. Before you say you don't have time - just 10 minutes out of your morning routine, ideally after a hot shower, is perfect to perform these 10 stretches. If you're not already warm and are stretching straight out of bed, make sure you perform the stretches gently!
#1. Upper Back Release
Great for: Releasing tension in the back of the shoulders and upper back
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hold your arms out in front of you and clasp your hands together, rounding your upper back and keeping your arms straight. Envision your shoulder blades stretching out across your back. Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths, then release.
#2. Side Stretch
Great for: Stretching out your upper thighs, shoulders and obliques
Stand with your right hand on the wall or your bed and cross your left leg in front of your right, feet pointing forwards. Now shift your weight to your left hip, then reach your left arm up and over your head, so you create a long, curved line from your left ankle to your fingertips. Hold for 2 to 3 deep inhales and exhales and then repeat on the opposite side.
#3. Hamstring Stretch
Great for: Targeting your hamstrings
Bring your right leg up onto a step or bench, supporting yourself as needed. Keep your legs hip-width apart and parallel and try to keep your back as straight as possible - flex your front foot. To increase this stretch, hinge at the hips and keep your back completely straight. Hold for 4 to 6 deep breaths and then switch legs.
#4. Chest Release
Great for: Stretching your chest, biceps and the front of your shoulders
Hold onto a door frame or wall with your left arm then step forward with your left leg, turning your entire body to the right, focusing particularly on your hips. Hold this stretch for 4 to 6 deep breaths and pivoting your hips to increase the stretch - feels good! Repeat on the other side.
#5. Spinal Twist
Great for: A tight neck and shoulders
Sit on the edge of the bed (or a chair) with your legs together, then lengthen your spine by sitting up very straight and rotating from the waist, with one hand behind you and the other hand on your thigh for support. By turning your gaze and looking over your shoulder, you can enjoy an extra neck stretch. Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths then switch sides.
#6. Standing Quad Stretch
Great for: Stretching out those quads!
You'll need to hold a chair, the bed or a wall for support and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Relax your left knee and reach for your right foot/ankle as you bend your right knee to point straight at the floor. Keep your spine tall and your pelvis neutral and hold for 4 to 6 breaths then switch sides.
#7. Forward Bend
Great for: Your lower back and hamstrings
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and bend your knees slightly, hinging forward from your hips. Let your upper body hang over your legs and clasp your elbows. Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths and gently shake your head 'no' and nod your head very gently 'yes'. Then pull your abs in and gently round yourself up, one vertebra at a time.
If you have lower back issues, don't hang from your elbows - place your hands on your legs or on the floor for support.
#8. Outer Hip Stretch
Great for: stretching your outer thighs and hips
Stand by your bed and lift your left leg, with knee bent, onto the bed. Square off your hips and ensure your front knee is outside your front shoulder. Keep your spine straight and hinge forward at the hips with your hands placed on the bed for support. Hold for 4 to 6 breaths before changing sides.
#9. Reach for the Sky Stretch
Great for: Waking up your body and getting your blood flowing!
The moment you wake up, lace your fingers together and raise your arms up above your head, palms facing upwards. Feel the stretch in your arms and ribcage as you elongate your spine. Hold for a count of 10. Ahhh!
#10. Cat Tilt
Great for: Releasing built-up tension in your spine, back and shoulders
This yoga stretch is the perfect way to start your morning! Get on all fours on a rug, exercise mat or towel and make sure your wrists are under your shoulders, knees under your hips. Then lengthen your spine, making sure the crown of your head is reaching towards the wall in front of you as your tailbone pushes towards the wall behind you. Take a deep breath in, then exhale and round your back up towards the ceiling (like cats do when they're angry!) dropping your chin towards your navel. Inhale again and arch your back as you drop your belly towards the floor and gaze up towards the ceiling. For the best stretch ever, repeat three times.
Now you should be wide awake, feeling good and nicely stretched - no sore muscles here! After this, you deserve a healthy breakfast; why not make some home-made granola, a bowl of porridge or a fruit smoothie? Or try one of our toast toppings to keep you full until lunchtime!