Many of us find that first thing in the morning we feel a bit stiff, sore, and groggy. While there are many reasons we may feel stiff and sore in the morning, there are things you can do to limit the lingering effects of stiffness and soreness when you roll out of bed. Stretching is a great way to start your day and can help reduce stiffness and soreness. It can also help improve your posture, relive joint and muscle pain, increase blood flow, and improve neuromuscular coordination. Although, performing common static stretches first thing in the morning is not the best way to start a morning routine. Since your body has been resting, your muscles have not been properly warmed up. This can limit the effectiveness of your static stretching routine. A better way to start your morning is with a good warm up to increase blood flow to your muscles while simultaneously getting your body ready for the activities of the day. Give this dynamic warm up a try the next time you wake up feeling stiff and sore.
1. Hip Circles – 30 seconds each leg
Stand upright with your feet about hip width apart. Raise one leg off the ground while keeping balance on the opposite leg. Keep good posture and perform slow hip circles in either a clockwise or counterclockwise motion. This exercise is great for increasing your coordination, balance, and mobility at the hip joint.
2. Lunge with rotation – 30 seconds each side
This movement will give your whole body a wake-up call. It is a stability exercise that targets the muscles in your hips and thighs, while engaging your core. It is a great movement to help increase your balance and coordination while walking, getting in and out of the car, or climbing up stairs. Start the movement by taking a step forward into a lunge position. Drop your back knee down towards the floor while rotating your arms over your forward leg. Keep the movement slow and controlled. You can perform 30 seconds on each side, or alternate legs and rotations for a full minute.
3. Toe Touches – 30 seconds each side
To improve hamstring flexibility and balance on each leg, perform 30 seconds of toe touches on each. This exercise will help engaged your hamstrings and test your core strength. Start off by standing on one leg with a slight bend in your knees. With a flat back, slowly push your hips back while reaching towards the floor with both hands. Keep your back leg moving up as your hands meet the floor. Bring your back leg down as you raise back up to the starting position. Perform slow and controlled movements for 30 seconds on each side.
4. Slow Butt Kickers – Alternate for 1 minute
It’s important to keep this movement slow. Performing regular speed butt kickers is a plyometric exercise that can be hard on the joints. For this reason, you should modify the movement and perform them without jumping off the ground and reducing the speed. Start this exercise by bending one knee back bringing your heel slowly towards your back side. Step back down and repeat with the other leg. To get into a rhythm for this movement you can swing your arms to mimic a slow jogging motion. Perform this movement for a minute.
5. Hip Swings – 30 seconds each side
This is another great movement to loosen up your hips. Specifically, this exercise will target your hip flexors and hamstrings. Start by supporting yourself with one arm against a wall. Stand upright and swing on leg back and forth. Keep the movement light and gradually increase the height of your swing as you feel your legs loosen up.
6. Arm Circles – 30 seconds forwards and backwards
This simple movement will help increase the blood flow to the muscles around your shoulder joint. Start by performing steady arms circles. Perform smaller circles to keep the tension in the muscles consistent. Complete 30 seconds of arm circles in both directions.
7. Over Head arm reaches – Alternate arms for 1 minute
This movement will help improve mobility in your shoulder by engaging the lats and triceps. Perform this movement by alternating the reach for one minute. Slowly reach up and back over you head to a point between you shoulder blades. If you find it difficult to reach back to your shoulder blades, limit the movement by reaching up and bending your elbow back slightly without trying to touch your shoulder blades.
8. Bent Over Torso Rotations – 30 seconds each side
This movement is great for increasing total body mobility through the hips and spine. Start by crossing your arms in front of your chest. Next, bent your knees slightly and push your hips back while bending forward until you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings. Hold this position, and then begin rotating your torso to one side. Perform 30 seconds of rotations to one side before switching to the opposite side.
9. T-Spine Rotations – 30 seconds each side
Thoracis spine (T-spine) rotations are great for helping reduce tightness and improve mobility in your upper back. Start by lying on one side and bending you knees into a ninety-degree angle. Keep both arms straight out in front of your chest before you begin the rotations. To rotate, keep one arm on the ground and rotate the other arm to the opposite side being carful to not let your leg lift off the floor. Perform rotations for 30 seconds before switching to the opposite side.
Follow along with the guided video below to add these dynamic warm up stretches to your next morning fitness routine.
*Consult with a qualified medical professional before beginning this or any exercise program*