Striking some gentle poses the moment you wake up can significantly improve your physical and mental wellness. To encourage you to make it a habit, this guide will discuss its four main benefits and give you other workout ideas along the way.
Benefits of Stretching
Boosts your physical capabilities
Just like a car that needs to rev up its engine, your body needs to warm up before it starts doing strenuous work. Whether you’re lifting weights or jogging, your muscles will need to prepare for harsh and demanding movements to avoid sudden breakdowns. Charging ahead to an uphill sprint or hastily overloading your dumbbells is no different from asking for an injury.
With this in mind, you should take some time to perform dynamic stretches before any physical activity. Something as simple as a ten-minute stretching routine will already have a significant impact on your overall performance.
Increases flexibility and widens your range of motion
One of the most obvious benefits of regular stretching is that it improves your overall flexibility. Having a flexible body will let you perform everyday activities with ease and help you counter mobility issues that come with injuries or aging. Reaching for the sky or your toes every morning increases your range of motion and gives you more freedom of movement.
Optimizes blood flow and speeds up recovery
There’s a big reason why athletes stretch after strenuous physical activity. Throughout a workout or game, muscle fibers are torn, and this may lead to all sorts of body aches and pain. Their trainers and nutritionists may have recommended taking vitamins and supplements, but nothing speeds up muscle recovery more than stretching.
Whether you’re a fitness junkie or not, you should know that stretching regularly can improve your blood flow. Improved circulation will significantly shorten the time you need to recover, and this can be useful if you get sore easily.
Stretching is known as a great stress reliever, so it’s no surprise why it’s often paired with calming practices such as meditation. When you’re experiencing stress, some areas of your body, such as the back or neck, are likely to tense up.
Making it a habit to stretch those areas can help you manage your emotions, especially if you’ve just had a long and stressful day of work. You can dim the lights, play ambient sounds, and then stretch it out to relieve your pent up tension.
Stretches and Exercises You Can Try
If you currently do not have access to a fitness center, don’t fret. The stretches and workouts below are gym-free alternatives that you can do at home.
Neck Mobility Stretch
If you’ve slept the wrong way or your neck feels a bit sore, you can relieve the pain by doing a neck rotation stretch.
1. Stand or sit upright and place your feet flat on the floor.
2. Tilt your neck to the left by placing your ear on your shoulder.
3. Slowly rotate to your neck in a circle and do one full rotation clockwise.
4. After doing this slowly five times, perform this same motion in the opposite direction.
Overhead Shoulder Stretch
This stretch will ready your shoulders and arms for the day.
1. Intertwine your fingers together and raise your hands above your head.
2. Place your hands above your head, making sure that your palms are facing upward to stretch your upper body fully.
3. With your ribcage lifted, hold this pose for about eight counts and slowly let go by making a circular motion with both arms.
4. Repeat for a couple of times while making sure to be wary of body pain.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
Feeling some soreness in your legs? Help them recover with this standing hamstring stretch.
1. Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
2. With your hands on the side, slowly arch your back and bend forward down the hips. Your head must be lowered and facing the floor, and your arms, legs, and shoulders must be fully relaxed.
3. Bend your legs a little, and try to hug your knees to stretch out your hamstrings fully. Be aware of your limits and know when to stop so that you don’t tear a muscle.
Take a look at this guide if you’re looking for more stretches.
Home Workout Alternatives
Unlike in the gym, where you have access to barbells and machines, exercising at home has its limitations. But, as long as you have some open space, you can shed off a few pounds by following a bodyweight workout program.
Most calisthenics-based exercises don’t need equipment, but some movements such as the pull up may require a bar and support bands. Luckily, these essentials can be easily bought at your local fitness store or online.
Jogging is a good way to get your heart rate up. Once you get out of bed, you should do some stretches and head outside for a quick run. Given that it’s not as physically and mentally demanding as compared to other workouts, it’s arguably the best form of exercise you can do to begin the day.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Following a HIIT program can help you get into the best shape of your life. It’s an all-in-one workout that uses different movements, such as push-ups, planks, and burpees, which can all be done in bursts of 30–60 seconds. Fortunately, you can follow many free HIIT workouts online. It may not be easy, but the reward you’ll get in return will make it all worth it.
If you want to start your day on a high note, then you should consider stretching and exercising in the morning. Hopefully, these tips and sample exercises can help you jumpstart your healthy habits.