Stretching in the morning can be a relaxing way to wake up energized and boost that feel-good serotonin. Plus, stretching moves and yoga poses may help ease muscle stiffness, increase range of motion, reduce pain, and improve your posture.
Here’s a quick morning stretching routine that’ll make you feel good first thing — plus a routine you can do without getting out of bed!
1. Cat-Cow Pose
Mooove over, stiff muscles. This classic yoga pose will relieve tension in your spine, abs, and back. Here’s how to do it:
- Start on all fours in a tabletop position with your spine straight and shoulders over your wrists. Relax your shoulders from your ears and look straight at the floor.
- Curl your toes under, tilt your pelvis back, and gaze gently upward to move into Cow.
- Release the tops of your feet to the floor as you tuck your tailbone under. Round your spine like a feline to flow into Cat.
- Draw your belly button toward your spine. Drop your head and look toward your tummy.
- Move back into Cow and repeat 5 times.
2. Seated side stretch
- While sitting, reach for the sky with your left arm.
- Place your right hand next to your right hip on the floor. Gently lean toward your right hand, pulling your left arm over your head as you bend your right elbow. Your torso should slightly bend with you.
- Hold the stretch for 5 deep breaths.
- Return to start and repeat on the opposite side.
Pro tip: You can also do this stretch standing.
3. Standing Forward Bend
Time to stretch out your spine, glutes, hams, quads while you basically give yourself a hug — ‘cause you deserve some love. ❣️
- Stand with feet hip-width apart.
- Hinge at your hips, keeping your torso long and lifted.
- Keep your legs straight (slightly bent knees are OK to reduce strain) and let your hands fall wherever it’s comfy. This could be your shins, ankles, feet, or floor. You can also hold opposite elbows.
- Root your feet to the ground and let your head hang as you relax here for 5 breaths.
- Release your arms and slowly rise back up using the strength of your core and glutes.
4. Tricep stretch
Get your arms ready for the day. This one will stretch out your triceps and shoulders.
- While standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, extend your right arm across your body.
- Hook your left arm around your right elbow. Gently pull the right arm closer to you.
- Hold while taking 5 deep breaths.
- Return to a neutral standing position and repeat on the opposite side.
5. Standing quad stretch
Now loosen up those legs and hips with the standing quad stretch.
- Stand up with feet hip-width apart.
- Grab your left foot behind you with your left hand. Keep your thighs aligned and your left leg parallel with your hip.
- Feel that stretch in your left thigh and hips for 5 deep breaths.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
Just can’t in the morning? You can do these stretches in the comfort of your bed while your coffee is brewing.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and arms at your sides.
- Slowly lift your knee and bring them as close to your chest as possible.
- Grasp your knees with both hands. If you want a deeper stretch, try to place your forehead on your knees.
- Take 5 deep breaths, and then return to start.
2. Two knee spinal twist
- Lie on your back with your knees bent. Outstretch your arms so they make a “T”.
- Bring your knees together and raise them toward the sky. Then slowly lower your knees across the left side of your body until they rest on the bed.
- Keep your shoulders grounded on the bed as you turn your head to the right.
- Hold the stretch and breathe deeply for 5 breaths.
- Slowly return to start and repeat on the opposite side.
3. Child’s Pose
- Kneel on your bed with your toes, knees hip-width apart, palms resting on your thighs.
- Slowly lower your torso between your knees.
- Extend your arms out by your ears, palms facing down. Relax your shoulders to the ground.
- You can make this one active by locking your arms and extending them long, or more passive, by letting them fall loosely to the floor. Whatever feels right.
- Hold for 5 deep breaths.
4. Cobra Pose
This yoga pose will stretch you right out like a snake by targeting your lower back, arms, glutes, and torso.
- Lie on your stomach with your hands pressed beneath your shoulders.
- Tuck your elbows in by your sides. Gently raise your head and chest while keeping your hips and pelvis glued to the bed.
- If everything feels good, you can go a little deeper by lifting your stomach off the bed. (This means moving from “Baby Cobra” to Full Cobra.) Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed.
- Hold for 5 breathes, lower back down, and repeat a few more times if you’d like.
5. Happy Baby Pose
When you wake up, you deserve to baby yourself. This yoga pose will release tension in your thighs, hips, groin, and entire back.
- Lie on your back. Bring both knees to your chest.
- Grab both feet from the outside. With your knees bent, pull your feet toward your armpits so your knees are wide.
- Press your shoulders and back of the neck into the bed. Try to get your spine as flat as possible.
- Breathe for 5 breaths and rock from side to side a little.
Stretching is supposed to prevent probs — not cause them. To stay safe while stretching every morning, keep the following tips in mind:
- Listen to your body. If your muscles are screaming, stop right there! Overstretching can lead to injury, so aim for a gentle release, *not* sharp pain.
- Watch your posture. Prioritize proper form over going super deep in the stretch. We’re shooting for better health, not Cirque du Soleil-level contortions. (And even if you *do* want to get mind-bendingly bendy, these things take time!)
- Breathe. Stretching already boosts circulation but breathing while your stretch helps your muscles and body relax into the move.
- Talk with a pro. If you have an injury or aren’t sure where to begin with your stretching routine, talk with your doctor or a physical therapist. Together, you can find a routine that works for your needs. Remember, your stretching routine should never cause you pain. If it does, head to a pro.
Remember, if your muscles are screaming, stop right there! When it comes to stretching, pain equals no gain. If you have injuries or are unsure how to stretch safely, talk with a doc or certified PT.