The 10 Best Morning Stretches For Better Days
Learn the 10 best morning stretches including downward dog, forward folds and cat to cow.
July 15, 2021

Mornings matter. Good ones set us up for a healthy, happy and productive day.

There’s all kinds of ways to make your mornings better—getting enough sleep, keeping a good schedule, and drinking water before coffee to name a few...

But one of the most important ways to improve your morning routine is also one of the easiest ways to add fitness and movement to your lifestyle: Stretching.

To help you get started with your daily stretching routine, here’s 10 of the best morning stretches to kick your day off right.

Why is a morning stretch routine important?

If you’ve been laying in bed for 7-8 hours, your body and muscles can get tight.

All your muscles and bones are held together by fascia. Fascia is like a mucous membrane: when it’s cold it gets stiffer and shorter, but when you warm it up it becomes more viscous.

Warmed up fascia is what allows us to feel more flexible and less stiff. And it’s also why it’s important to start slow with morning stretches before moving on to your daily workout routine.

A morning stretch routine can also help you feel more alert and awake, ease indigestion and bloating, and even improve your mood by bringing more oxygen to your muscles and brain!

Here’s the 10 best simple stretches to add to your morning routine:

The 10 best morning stretches to start your day right

1. Child’s pose

Child’s pose is a restful stretch that slowly and gently wakes up your body in the morning.

How to do child’s pose:

Child’s pose lengthens your glutes, piriformis, and lower back muscles to increase flexibility and mobility. 

Use the child’s pose stretch to open your back, pelvis, and release your hips as you start your day.

2. Spine twist

A spine twist in the morning will release tension in your lower back, shoulders and chest. It also gently massages your internal organs as you wake up. 

How to do a spine twist:

Spine twists can be intense, so make sure you take it slow and stop if you’re feeling any pain or discomfort.

3. Downward dog

This classic yoga pose is a great way to get your body moving in the morning.

How to do downward facing dog:

If your hamstrings are tight, use a rolled up towel or pillow to elevate your heels and help you keep your knees extended

Downward facing dog stretches your hamstrings, glutes, and shoulders. It is a great way to wake up the whole body and warm-up your muscles for the day ahead.

4. Figure four stretch

This is a classic stretch that wakes up your glutes and hips.

How to do the figure four stretch:

For an added hamstring stretch, lengthen your left leg. For a deeper stretch, try pushing the right knee away from you and engaging your glutes on the inhale

The figure four stretch stretches your hips, deep rotators and glutes.

Remember to take it slow and stop any stretches that are causing you pain or discomfort.

5. Foot and toe splits

Your feet contain a large amount of bones and muscles that are easy to forget about. So foot and toe splits in the morning are important.

How to do foot and toe splits:

Stretching your feet can improve your balance, release hip and back tension, and help you engage large muscle groups in your legs like your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

6. Arm and ankle circles

Mobilizing your joints is a helpful way to warm up your body for the day. And arm and ankle circles focus on some of the joints we use the most.

How to do arm and ankle circles:

Ankle circles:

You can also do this with both legs at the same time. This variation will require more core strength, so if your lower back arches, stick with doing one leg at a time.

How to do arm circles:

Arm circles:

Arm circles will mobilize your shoulders and upper back. They also help you assess any areas that might be tight before doing more rigorous exercises like push-ups or squats.

Use these stretches before doing your daily workout routine to help reduce the risk of injury.

7. Cat to cow

Cat to cow is a nice flowy stretch for engaging your back muscles and opening your chest and shoulders.

How to do the cat cow stretch:

For the cat stretch:

Flow out of cat right into the cow stretch.

For the cow stretch:

Alternate between cat and cow pose. Exhale on your cat stretch and inhale on the cow stretch to accentuate the chest expansion as your spine arches.

This stretch is a great way to mobilize your spine and engage your back, chest and abdominal muscles in the morning.

8. One-legged downward dog

This yoga stretch is a more advanced way to open your hips and is a great way to warm up your body in the morning.

This is a great active stretch for waking up the body in the morning. It’s also a great way to open your hips that might be tight after a long night’s rest.

9. Forward fold

This stretch decompresses your spine and uses gravity to lengthen your back.

If you feel any kind of discomfort or light headedness stop the stretch.

The forward fold aims to lengthen the back of your body including your spine, lower back, neck, hamstrings and glute muscles.

This stretch is a great way to release tension in your back, open the lungs, and relieve abdominal tension.

10. Upward dog or cobra

Upward dog and cobra work to open the chest that can sometimes feel closed or stiff in the morning.

Cobra stretch:

Start with the cobra stretch to ease your spine into extension before moving on to upward dog.

Upward dog stretch:

Upward dog stretch is an active way to work your back and open the chest, abdominal muscles, and hip flexor muscles.

These stretches are great for relieving bloating and indigestion.

Let's get flexible!

Whether you’re stretching before a morning workout, or warming up just after you wake, morning stretches are a healthy way to get your day started.

No matter what stretches you’re doing, don’t forget to breathe! Stretching can feel very intense sometimes, so take your time and listen to your body.

Enjoy the feeling of an engaged and alert body by adding these morning stretches to your daily fitness routine.

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