Written by Jesse Richardson
It turns out stretches have some great health benefits. Although there has been some debate over stretching and serious exercise, stretching for the everyday person has been collectively agreed as good (not to mentioned encouraged!).
The Health Benefits
The first benefit I’d like to mention is the one from above – it just feels good. It’s both physiologically and mentally pleasing. This type of sensation is just what I need some days, especially when I want the day to be a good one.
Looking at those physiological benefits, though, we see that early morning stretches helps us loosen our muscles and get the blood flowing. The means better flexibility and joint range of motion throughout the day, as well as better circulation. This will lessen the likelihood of injury, and the circulation will help carry nutrients efficiently throughout the body.
In this, it’s important to note that stretching helps prepare your body for the rest of the day. With the flexible muscles, you’ll find yourself more balanced and able to coordinate your body. With the increased blood flow, you’ll find yourself more aware and pensive.
Stretching daily can even help you with posture (and in effect, pain). This helps you avoid over tense muscles and other issues that come with poor posture. Making a conscious effort to sit and stand up straight has a number of perks. Not only will you be happier throughout the day, but you will notice increased vitality and endurance!
Let’s recap. Stretching will:
- Loosen muscles, preventing injury or sprains
- Increase circulation
- Increase balance and coordination
- Boost awareness
- Better posture
- Prevent pain
- Boost your mood!
3 Great Morning Stretches
Considering these benefits, where do we start?
First off, I should begin by saying that the ever-pleasing bed stretch actually isn’t the best stretch for you. We usually do it in a strange direction, increasing the chance for a strain. That being so, try these three simple stretches in the morning (if you can master these, you may consider starting a regular yoga practice!):
- Neck Stretch: First, get yourself in a well-balanced position, either sitting or standing. As you focus on keeping your neck straight, move the head forward as much as possible (do not jerk it, but rather move slowly). Repeat the movement but backwards (leaning your head back as much as possible). After loosening up, move your head in a clockwise motion, slowly and smoothly. (Note: Take precaution if you have a neck problem)
- Shoulder Stretch: Next, work on loosening up your shoulders (which can be especially tense if you sleep on them). In the same balanced position, slowly lift your shoulders up to your hears slow and steady. Repeat. Another form is to fold your arms back to your shoulders (touching your shoulders with your hands). Put your elbows together and rotate your arms.
- Hamstring Stretch: This is something all Americans need to do more of. Laying down, lift your legs up as high as you can, keeping them straight. While in this position, you can also work your hips by rotating your leg in a circular motion.
After 10-15 minutes of stretching, your body will be loosened up and ready for the day!