Waking up feeling stiff is extremely common, especially if you work out the day before. In this video, I’m going to show you the 4 best stretches to do every morning to help loosen up and increase your flexibility for the rest of the day. Much of what you are trying to overcome are the tightnesses that develop from our sleeping posture. Each of these stretches is going to help hit these key areas and allow you to do it quickly so as not to take up much time.
The first move is actually not a static stretch but rather a dynamic movement. The goal is to groove the hip hinge while at the same time stretch out the hamstrings a bit since many of us have chronically tight hamstring muscles from sitting all day. The reason we do this RDL movement however is not to statically stretch the hamstring but simply to warm them up. In the case of an anterior pelvic tilt you would not want to perform long stretches of the hamstrings, as they tend to be taut from pelvic positioning not actually muscle tightness.
From here you want to drop down into a deep squat position with your hands between your legs and flat on the floor. The goal is to turn your hands away from you with your fingers pointed backwards. This will stretch out the forearms and finger flexors while at the same time providing a nice stretch for the biceps. Believe it or not, the biceps do tend to get tight when sleeping because we sleep with our arms in some variation of a bent elbow position for hours on end.
The goal of this deep stretch however is to loosen up the hips and groin. If you are a side sleeper you will have your legs likely pulled up into your chest and your knees pressed against each other. This will tighten both the hip flexors and the hip adductors or groin muscles. There is nothing more important in the morning than trying to re-establish a looseness to these muscles since asymmetrical pulling on the pelvis can cause lots of postural low back pain and stiffness throughout the day.
Use your elbows to drive your knees apart and deepen the stretch while at the same time let your thighs help to reinforce the straightness of your arms for that good biceps and forearm stretch.
Next you want to really get at those hip flexors and stretch them out. The best way to do that is with an overhead leaning lunge stretch. Here you want to grab a wooden dowel, broomstick, etc that you can plant into the ground in front of you outside of your forward leg. Drop the opposite leg behind you until you feel a deep stretch on the upper front side of your thigh. From here, reach up to the top of the stick with both hands and twist/lean towards that side to enhance the stretch. If you do this right, you will be extending through the thoracic spine to regain any lost mobility from sleeping with a rounded upper back supported by the pillow.
Finally, you perform the standing shoulder stretch with the dowel or stick as well. This is an incredible stretch that will help to externally rotate your shoulders and work on loosening up the posterior deltoids as well. When laying on your side or on your stomach, your shoulders are often positioned into internal rotation. Again, the problem here is that you aren’t just staying like this for a few minutes but rather hours! If you want to loosen up the tightnesses that you cause by sleeping this way you have to devote just a few minutes each morning to doing that.
Each of these stretches can have a profound impact by just being held for 45 seconds or so, every morning. It won’t take you long to start to see and feel the benefits of adopting these four into your morning routine.
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