5 Morning Stretches to Energize Your Day

July 13, 2015   |   8 Comments   |   3

Do you ever wonder why many living things stretch first thing when they wake up? It’s not just humans that do it. If you’ve ever lived with dogs or cats, or even rodents, they all wake up and streeeeetch. And would you believe me if I told you even ants, yes the bugs, stretch when they wake up? Famous entomologist Derek Wragge Morley noted a lot of unusual (AKA cool) behavior in ants. Like the fact that when they wake up, they stretch out all 6 of their legs. They also open their mandibles as if they are yawning.

So it would appear many forms of life instinctively stretch. Why is that? Is it just because it feels good or are there other benefits to stretching?

Stretching for Heart Health

Get ready to strike a pose… of the yoga variety.

A recent study suggests that yoga can reverse the detrimental effects of aging. The study specifically focused on what effects aging has on the brain, nervous system, and heart. Most of us know that aging can affect how our hearts function and increase the risk of developing heart attacks and strokes.

But aging can also have a profound (not the good kind of profound) effect on our brains and nervous systems, and this can decrease our cognitive performance and eventually lead to dementia. But the study found that yoga has the ability to reverse the negative age-related changes restoring them to “normal or near-normal levels of function.”

Research followed a group of healthy, active men from three different age groups: 20-29, 30-39, 40-49. None of the men had any prior knowledge of yoga. The researchers noted before the study began that the older group had “significantly more damage” to their bodies. They had higher levels of bad cholesterol and also high blood pressure. These findings correlated with their age.

When the study was completed the researchers confirmed what many had long suspected: yoga is incredibly beneficial in managing heart health. Much focus is given to aerobic exercise as a way to manage high blood pressure and cholesterol, but gentle yoga can give aerobic exercise a run for its money.

One of the most interesting findings of the study was that yoga has the ability to increase the levels of a protein found in the body called “brain-derived neurotrophic factor” (BDNF). This protein affects our mood, brain plasticity and memory. It is common to find senior citizens with low levels of BDNF and that is linked to decreased cognitive functioning and depression.

But by practicing yoga and raising the levels of BDNF, you will help your neurons multiply and protect themselves, increase the flow of blood to your brain, and slowly if not completely prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Stretching for Energy

While you may have just learned that stretching can help your heart, you most likely have known for quite some time that stretching is very relaxing to the body and helps release muscle tension. But what you may not have known is that stretching can increase your energy level – and who doesn’t need more energy?

LaReine Chabut is a certified fitness instructor and personal trainer who understands firsthand the benefits of stretching. In her book “Stretching for Dummies,” Chabut explains how stretching helps our bodies use energy more efficiently (contracted muscles require more energy to move than relaxed muscles) and increases circulation of oxygen and blood to our muscles. This in turn raises our energy levels.

So, if you got a crappy night’s sleep and our feeling tired and sluggish, stretching can help you feel a renewed sense of energy.

Here are 5 morning stretches to energize your day:

1. Upper Back Release

This is a very simple stretch, but don’t let the simplicity fool you. Just holding this stretch for a couple of seconds will wake you up and you’ll feel like you can face another day.

Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and clasp your hands together straight out in front of you. Round your upper back while keeping your arms straight out and focus on spreading your shoulders blades out.

Hold this stretch for a count of five and take some nice, deep breaths.

2. Chest Release

Another easy stretch that will completely transform in seconds how you are feeling physically and mentally. Simply hold a wall, door frame, or window ledge with your right arm. Step forward with the right leg and turn your entire body toward the left, especially at the hips.

Hold this stretch for a count of five while breathing in and out deeply, then repeat on your left side.

3. Side Stretch

Start by standing with your left hand on the wall or bed and cross your right leg in front of your left leg. Make sure your feet are both pointing forward.

Next, shift into your right hip and reach your right arm up and overhead. This should create a long line from your right ankle to your right fingertips.

Again, hold this stretch for a count of five making sure to breathe in and out deeply – never hold your breath.

4. Seated Spinal Twist

Be prepared to feel a nice gentle popping along your spinal column!

Sit in a chair (or the edge of your bed will work as well) and make sure your legs are together. Sit up straight and lengthen your spine as you rotate from your waist. Place one hand behind you and the other hand on your outer thigh for support.

If you want an even deeper stretch, turn your neck and gaze over your shoulder. Hold…. Breathe…. Repeat on your other side.

 5. Forward Bend

This stretch will really target your hamstrings and lower back, which is nice because depending on your mattress, or what position you slept in, you might find you awaken with a stiff back.

Stand with your feet hip distance apart and your knees slightly bent, then gently and slowly bend forward at your hips. Allow you upper body to hang over your legs and clasp your elbows. (If you feel you need a bit more support you can place your hands on the floor).

Hold… breathe… and come back up slowly using your abdominal muscles.

Now, It’s important to remember that stretching should never cause pain – so please do not try to force a stretch or stretch beyond your current level of flexibility. Give it some time, patience and persistence, and soon your range of motion will improve and it’ll become easier to perform an exercise.

What’s your favorite morning stretch? Please share in the comments below!



  1. Phyllis Lovell

    December 30, 2015 Reply

    I do my morning stretch first thing while I'm sitting on the pot.

    1. neck
    -roll head from side to side
    -try to touch ear to shoulder on both sides
    -look back over shoulder as far as you can

    2. shoulders
    - rolling shoulders
    - bending slightly to side and let arm hang. Then using body to move arm back and forth and in circles forward and back

    3. back
    - bend down and let torso & arms stretch straight out in front of you.
    - bend down between legs and leg body stretch as far down as possible & then hang there a short time.
    - with arms hanging down straight & loose, lean to one side and let arm dangle, then move torso to make arm swing back and forth and the in a circles. Then do the other side.

    4. feet and ankles
    - spread toes apart as much as possible and pull up on them
    - curl your toes and hold
    - rotate feel in circle at your ankles. Circle both ways.
    - pull feet up with heel on floor
    - raise you heels up with toes on the floor

    5. calves
    - go up on tippy toes and feel stretch in calves
    - go up on heels and pull toes back and feel it in calves

    6. hands and fingers (similar to feet)
    - spread fingers apart as much as possible and pull up on them
    - make a fist and hold then open hands and fingers
    - rotate hands in circle at your wrists. Circle both ways.
    - pull hands back towards your arm
    - touch each finger to your thumb and then do it backward
    - touch each finger pad to palm


    • Hamza

      January 4, 2016 Reply

      These stretches are brilliant Phyllis, thank you so much for sharing! :)


    September 19, 2015 Reply

    very good n inspiring indeed ! many many thanx 4 it, sir !

  3. Cora

    July 17, 2015 Reply

    I've always been a "stretcher". My best morning stretch starts flat on back, hands and arms over head as far as possible while stretching hips, legs and feet as far as possible. Turn feet in circles, stretch fingers wide. Relax stretch, arms at sides, knees bent, rotate hips slowly to left then right, keeping shoulders flat on mattress. Repeat. Legs straight, grasp one knee, curl up and touch with forehead, repeat with other knee. Relax then sit up. Wow, it feels so good and it all took less than a minute.

    • Hamza

      July 18, 2015 Reply

      That's an absolutely phenomenal stretch Cora, does wonders for the back! Definitely part of my daily routine now :)

  4. Pamela

    July 15, 2015 Reply

    My favorite was seating in the chair and using the twist stretch. Thank you and God bless!

  5. Bill

    July 13, 2015 Reply

    Not sure just how much good this one is but it does seem to provoke some relaxation and lots of upper body creaks and pops.

    While seated upright on the edge of the bed you are just waking from, roll shoulders back and forth three or four times in a slow circular kind of motion. You might be surprised how good this feels and maybe a little startled at how much "noise" resounds from your upper chest and your neck.

    • Hamza

      July 14, 2015 Reply

      That's a great suggestion Bill, I will definitely try it tomorrow morning! Thank you :)

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Reply

close popup