Many of us spend our nighttime hours flailing from side to side, flipping from stomach to back, yanking covers, doubling flat pillows, putting on socks, taking socks off, etcetera, etcetera. So it shouldn’t be all that surprising that we wake up feeling a little bit…discombobulated. And even those of us who sleep peacefully need a good stretch after 7 to 9 hours of zzzs—all that time on your back is bound to make you feel a little creaky. Here, a 5-minute stretching routine that will start your day off right.
Perform 20 repetitions of exercises 1 and 2. Hold exercises 3 and 4 for 20 seconds on each side. Then perform 10 repetitions of exercise 5. At the very end, take one final deep breath, smile, and embrace the gift of another day. (Lose up to 15 pounds in just 30 days with this revolutionary superfood plan from the publisher of Prevention!)
Place hands behind head with elbows wedged wide open. Bend at hips, slightly bend knees, and reach butt back—not down!—as far as possible. As you do this, allow torso to tip forward. Be sure to engage core and tip forward at torso, and avoid rounding back. Hold momentarily then draw hips forward, raise torso, and stand upright into starting position. This move stretches the hamstrings and lower back.
Reach arms straight out in front, slightly below shoulders. Walk forward across length of room, kicking one leg straight up with flexed foot, drawing shin to hand. If kicking that high causes rounding of back, simply lower arms and kick to height that stops posture from arching forward. Keep hips squared as you walk forward in this “Frankenstein” motion, and you’ll get a great stretch in your hamstrings.
Sit on shins with knees out and heels right under butt. Reach one arm across center of torso, and take other arm up toward ceiling, holding 20 seconds. You should feel a stretch in the hips, shoulders, chest, and back. Repeat on opposite side.
Optional: Bind the other arm around the back to the opposite hip while holding the pose for a deeper stretch.
Lie flat on back. Bring one knee in toward belly and cradle it with opposite hand. Applying light pressure, pull that knee across body and to floor. Try to keep both shoulders on ground. The goal is to gently twist the spine; it’s OK if knee does not make it all the way down to floor. Stop when you start to feel resistance from your lower back—you should also feel this stretch in the glutes. Repeat on opposite side.
Inhale and reach arms high up overhead. Exhale and return to starting standing position. Match movement pattern to rhythm of breath, and feel stretch in shoulders, back, and torso as you flow through 10 repetitions.