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There is nothing like a good stretch in the morning to get your blood flowing. Follow this quick 5-minute stretching routine in the morning to help wake you and get you moving. I like to hold the stretches for 10-30 seconds depending on the stretch and how it feels that day. This can mean that my routine takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes. **Note: Never stretch to the point of pain. Mild discomfort should be the most you feel.**
Stand straight up with feet hip-distance apart and raise your arms straight up above your head lengthening your body as you do so. Imagine there is a string coming out of the top of your head lightly pulling you up.
Example: Torso Stretch
Standing Advanced Forward Bend
From the torso stretch, slowly bend forward at the waist until your hands touch the floor. You should feel the stretch in the back of your legs.
If this is difficult for you, modify the stretch by bending your knees slightly.
Slowly roll up, vertebrae by vertebrae. This will give you a light back stretch and also allow you to return to standing without putting strain on your back.
Example: Standing Advanced Forward Bend
Bring your left ear down towards your left shoulder and slowly roll your head to the right bringing your chin down to your chest in the process. Then repeat the process rolling your head to the left. Do this twice.
I also like to go once or twice with my head leaning back as if I am looking up.
This stretch can be done sitting or standing. I choose to do it while I am still standing after the Standing Advanced Forward Bend so there is one continuous flow to my stretching.
Example: Neck Stretch
Standing Shoulder Stretch
Standing with your feet hip-distance apart, bring your right arm straight across your body and loop your left arm over it pulling it gently close to you. Repeat with the left arm.
Example: Standing Shoulder Stretch
Standing Triceps Stretch
Standing, once again, with your feet hip-distance apart, bring your left arm overhead and bend it at the elbow so your hand is behind your head. Gently place your right hand on the elbow and pull lightly. Repeat on the other side.
Example: Standing Triceps Stretch
Standing IT Band Stretch
Standing tall, place your right leg behind your left leg and your left hand on your hip. Bring your right arm up and over your body bending slightly at the waist. Repeat on the other side. This stretch always reminds a little of being a ballerina. It looks very graceful.
Example: Standing IT Band Stretch
Wide-Leg Advanced Forward Bend
Stand up straight and place your feet wider than your hips. Bending at the waist, reach down with your fingers until they touch the ground. If you are in a position to go deeper into the stretch, relax your head and allow your elbows to bend.
If this stretch is difficult for you, modify it by placing your hands on your ankles instead of on ground.
Example: Wide-Leg Advanced Forward Bend
Wide-Leg Advanced Hamstring Stretch
From the Wide-Leg Advanced Forward Bend, turn at your waist towards your right leg and bring your arms to either side of your leg touching the ground. Slowly move to the left side and repeat.
If you find this stretch difficult to do, modify it by placing your hands on your thigh instead of on the ground.
Slowly roll up, vertebrae by vertebrae.
Example: Wide-Leg Advanced Hamstring Stretch
Inner Thigh Squat Stretch
Keeping your feet wider than your hips, turn your toes outward slightly and bend your legs so you go down into a squat. Place your hands on your thighs and hold for 10-30 seconds. Return to standing.
Example: Inner Thigh Squat Stretch
Bring feet back to hip-distance apart and kneel down on the ground. Lean forward and place your hands under your shoulders and push yourself up onto your legs. Your body should look like an inverted “V”. Gently press your heels down on to the floor as far as you can go. Don’t force them.
Example: Downward Dog
Bring your body back down to the ground so you are laying straight and facedown. Place your hands by shoulders and push gently up bringing your face up to look forward to slightly up.
Example: Upward Dog
Bring your knees in so you are in a “crawling” position. Round your back pushing it towards the ceiling and then bring it back in and curve it the other direction pushing your belling towards the floor. Do this two or three times.
Example: Camel Stretch
Example: Cat Stretch
Finely, at the very end, push your body back so your butt is resting on yoru ankles and, with your head down, forehead on the ground, stretch your arms out in front of you. This is a gentle stretch that, I have found, fully relaxes you at the end of your routine. Gently rise from this position and go about your day.
Example: Child’s Pose
I love this routine. It is, by no means, a comprehensive stretching guide, but it is a great starter routine that can be done quickly and easily which is what so many of us need. Once you know the stretches, it all flows very well together so the routine can be completed in a small amount of time but still give you great benefits. Enjoy!