A Physical Therapist’s Go-To Stretches for the Morning

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Being a member of the roll-out-of-bed-and-onto-the-computer crew has its appeal. Primarily, that extra few minutes of sleep in the morning. But if you want to prepare your body for the day ahead the same way you would your mind with a cup of coffee, you might want to set your alarm a little earlier.

Really just 14 minutes earlier. That’s the length of a new routine of dynamic stretches for the morning from Well+Good’s Trainer of the Month, physical therapist Winnie Yu, DPT, who has put together her go-to moves for the morning. The full-body routine will lube up your joints and tendons, and also help activate your muscles. This will have you feeling more alert, but it will also enable your muscles to perform their very important duties of holding you up with good posture all day.

“If you spend a lot of time on your phone, or even at your computer for your day-to-day, this is a great thing you can do to prime those muscles at the start of the day,” Dr. Yu says.

Don’t worry, we know these are the first moves you’ll do in the morning, so Dr. Yu is ready to ease you into it with slow, gentle movements. You’ll start with a dynamic version of a three-directional child’s pose, meaning you’ll stretch back onto your hips with your arms in front of you, to the left, and to the right, moving in and out of the tabletop position. Bringing a little movement to what’s typically a static recovery stretch is “a great way to bring more blood flow to those muscles at the start of the day,” Dr. Yu says. “Once we switch over to the opposite direction, we can hone into each side a little bit better. You should feel a deeper stretch into those side trunk muscles.”

Next, half-kneeling poses, lunges, and even some planks (don’t worry—you won’t be holding the position long), will help gently awaken your hip flexors, which can get shortened when you spend long periods of time sitting.

Finally, a standing series in which you’ll stretch your shoulders, open your chest, and create space in your lower back, will set you up for feeling “looser, more mobile, and ready to tackle the day,” Dr. Yu says.

So, have we convinced you to set your alarm 14 minutes earlier? Give it a shot: Your body will thank you for it.

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