As our body ages and changes, self-care becomes more than a desire, it is essential! So, the benefits of stretching in the morning become more than just a nice list of good things that we’d like to see happen. They can actually help us live a healthier and happier life:
- reduced stress
- improved posture
- better circulation
- increased flexibility
- improved balance
When I turned 40 I felt great, and looking back, why wouldn’t I? I was just a kid.
The half-century mark was significant in that I was in the midst of menopause, but overall was able to do just about anything I wanted to physically and in terms of a good workout. And I made sure to take the time to get that physical activity into my day, eat well, and overall keep the lifestyle on a healthy track.
Then comes age 60 and beyond. More than ever, listening to my body and responding wisely, making choices that will benefit my health, combining aerobic and strength training to keep my bones and muscles strong, a morning routine to start each day on a positive note, and actively working to keep my mind, body, and spirit in sync, are priorities. Each and every one of them.
Honestly, a morning stretch has not been a consistent part of my routine. Sure, I stretch (a little bit) as I’m warming up for the first walking workout of the day. But I’ve known for a while that I could be kinder to my body by stretching in the morning as soon as I wake up. So for me, it’s time to do something about it!
How to Stretch Properly
There are two ways to prepare your body for a morning stretch, and both are effective.
1 – Stretch as soon as you wake up and before your little tootsies hit the floor! When you’ve been in bed all night your muscles are already on the warmer side, so just a few preliminary flexing exercises are all you need.
Here are some simple suggestions for flexing your joints in bed before you stretch:
- While you’re still lying down, flex your lower limbs: put your knees and feet in the air; with your knees in the air, raise and lower your feet; roll your ankles and move them back and forth.
- Next, sit up in bed. Slowly look left and then right. Roll your shoulders a few times; work your elbows by holding both arms in front of you and doing biceps curls; flex your wrists up and down; open and close your hands several times.
2 – Another effective way to stretch in the morning is to give yourself a little bit of time to wake up, then do a simple warm-up like walking for a few minutes while gently swinging your arms. Simple and easy, but it will warm up your body and prepare it for a proper stretch.
The Benefits of Stretching in the Morning
1 | Relief from Stress
Have you ever noticed how your body tenses up when you’re feeling stressed? For me, it’s in the shoulders and across the top of my back.
One of the really satisfying benefits of stretching in the morning is an opportunity to relieve that stress, wherever you hold it in your body.
2 | Improved Posture
Along with some relief that stress can have on our body and muscles, we can also help improve our posture by stretching.
Specifically, your chest, upper/lower back, and hip muscles can contribute to poor posture if they are tight. If you sit for a portion (or more) of your day, particularly in front of a computer, you may be practicing less-than-desired posture.
Morning stretches that include these muscle groups can help us with our posture.
3 | Better Circulation
When you stretch, you increase the blood flow to your muscles, including your heart. That, in turn, brings nourishment to them and helps get rid of waste byproducts in the muscle tissue.
If you suffer from any symptoms of poor circulation, like numb or cold hands and/or feet, brittle nails, dry skin, or even losing your hair, stretching in the morning could be of great benefit!
4 | Increased Flexibility
Stretching our muscles in the morning will help us throughout the day as we go about our normal activities.
Bending over to tie your shoes, reaching down and then up to empty the dishwasher (you know, those functional fitness moves we talk about and incorporate into our fitness routines), getting up off of the floor…all of these actions will be made a little bit easier if we remember to maintain flexibility.
5 | Improved Balance
Maintaining our balance can become a challenge as we get older. Our vision and reaction time can both be reduced with age.
Muscle strength and flexibility are affected, too, with the passing of time. So, when we put our strength and aerobic training at the top of our healthy lifestyle priority list, and include stretching in the morning, our bodies will thank us in a number of ways, including improved balance.
And, when we’re flexible, strong, and confident of our step, we’re less likely to fall and injure ourselves.
Tips for Better Stretching
Tips for Better Stretching in the Morning
- Check with your doctor first.
If we’re going to reap the benefits of stretching in the morning, there are some things we can do to maximize our stretching efforts. Of course, always speak with your physician first if you have any concerns about your ability to stretch.
- A short warm-up
As mentioned earlier, if you’re going to stretch after getting out of bed, give yourself a few minutes of warm-up by walking while gently pumping your arms, or do a low-intensity exercise for about five minutes.
- Hold the stretch.
Hold stretches for about 30 seconds, as it takes time to lengthen muscles. You can use a clock or timer, count in your little head, or, if you watch the video below, the instructor tells you to breathe ‘x’ number of times while holding the stretch.
- Don’t bounce.
Refrain from bouncing while you stretch. If you bounce, you might cause small tears in the muscle, which could leave scar tissue and ultimately take away some flexibility, and cause you pain.
Make an effort to relax! Breathe freely and don’t hold your breath while stretching.
- Stop if it hurts.
Most importantly, if you feel any pain, stop stretching. Find the point where you are comfortable and don’t stretch beyond it.
Suggested Morning Stretching Routine
We’ve discussed the benefits of stretching in the morning, either before you get out of bed or shortly after getting up and about.
So, what should you do, specifically?
Here are two options for you, friend. First, a video that is a “before you get out of bed” stretching routine. I really like the presentation, the instruction, and the calming way this routine is presented:
Next, I recommend that you visit Linda Melone via this post, 50/https://lindamelone.com/5-best-stretches-women-50/, to read and then watch her short videos on stretching for women over 50.
Linda is a knowledgeable source of so much helpful fitness information!
So, there you have it, the benefits of taking the time to stretch in the morning. As women in midlife we owe it to ourselves to take every opportunity to maintain a strong body.
Why not incorporate some simple morning stretches into your daily routine? I know I’m going to!
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