Unless you toss and turn while sleeping or sleep walk, you're body may have been in only one or two positions for most of the night. Lying in one position for extended periods of time may cause stiff muscles and joints. Overuse of your muscles during the previous 24 to 48 hours may also cause stiffness, which could slow you down and make you feel tired all day long. Stretching in the morning is an effective way to help alleviate stiff muscles and joints.
Stretching in the morning can help loosen stiff joints and get the blood flowing to tight muscles, as well as improve flexibility so that you start your day with less risk of injury from a strain or sprain. When you stretch your muscles, you increase blood flow to both your joints and your muscles, which results in greater range of motion. Stretching also helps to strengthen muscles for better posture and balance. Morning stretches also help make you feel more energized.
A warm-up before stretching is necessary to help prepare your stiff muscles and joints, which are prone to injury from lack of blood flow. If your body temperature is already elevated from being snuggled under a blanket, your warm-up can consist of light exercises, for example, marching in place or jumping jacks. Once your heart rate is slightly elevated, you will be ready to stretch.
Once you warm-up, you can lie on the bed or on the floor to do some supine hamstring stretches. Stretch out your left leg and bend your right knee toward your chest. Interlock your fingers on the back of your right leg and gently pull it closer to your chest. Keep your shoulders, head and upper back flat. Pull your leg until you feel the muscle in the back of your leg begin to stretch. Hold for up to 20 seconds and then relax and stretch your left hamstring.
For hip stretches, lie on your back and bend your knees. Cross your right foot over your left leg near the left knee. Grab your right knee with your left hand and gently pull it toward your left shoulder. Repeat on the other side.
Get on your hands and knees on the floor to stretch your back. The cat/camel involves rounding your back up toward the ceiling and then arching your back toward the floor. Do five to eight repetitions for a good stretch.
Practicing exercise safety will help you prevent a painful muscle or joint injury. Move slowly when stretching and avoid jerking or bouncing motions. A safe stretch should make your muscles and joints feel relaxed and warm. Hold each stretch for no more than 20 to 30 seconds and relax between stretches. If you feel pain, stop stretching. Don't hold your breath. Breathe out during the stretch and breathe in during the relaxation period.
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