Stretching the body to its full length after waking seems to be an automatic movement; even animals do it, but an intentional daily stretching routine can help relieve pain better than one quick stretch first thing in the morning. Lying in bed for a full night’s sleep means the body has remained relatively motionless for hours, leaving the muscles cold and stiff, and this impact is worsened for those who spend their days sitting at a desk or standing in one place. The human body is designed for movement, and a body spending too much time in stillness becomes tense, leading to low energy, a foggy mind, achy joints, and sore muscles. Performing stretches each morning benefits both the mind and body. A little stretching in the morning can help get the heart pumping faster after its slower sleeping pace to shake off drowsiness and even ease stress, so a morning stretch helps the day start well. Daily stretching can improve circulation, relieve muscle tension, reduce the chance of injury during exercise, and improve posture, resulting in fewer headaches and reduced pain in the feet, legs, hips, back, and neck.
Although stretching first thing is a good reset, loosening the muscles and realigning the body, the muscles are still cold, so it is best to get up and move around for a few minutes before stretching. Dynamic stretches, when one continues to breathe and keep the body moving during the stretch, are gentler on cold muscles than static stretches when after moving into the stretch, one holds the position for a set amount of time. Until the muscles have warmed up with activity, stretches should be slow and gentle.
A morning stretching routine will be more beneficial if it is a consistent habit, so it is best to start small. Once the routine of stretching in the morning is established, it can gradually be expanded to a full complement of stretches. There are stretching routines designed for both athletes and yogis. These routines can target specific muscle groups to help relieve pain, entire stretching exercises are done in an office chair, and stretches to promote well-being and happiness, so everyone can find a stretching routine that fits their morning best.