A Guide To Stretching: AM & PM Routines
No one wants to wake up sore, or worse, in pain. A lot of time we just jump into bed with our bodies still carrying all of the tight, stressed muscles that we have been accumulating all day. This can lead to more pain, pinched nerves, and general aches in the morning. Whether it is stretching before bed or when you wake up, or better yet both, it is important to add stretching to your daily routine for better health and sleep.
We are going to share with you how stretching can help you avoid these aches and pains. Allowing you to move and feel better while awake and asleep. We will also share with you some quick and easy stretches you can do before bed to let go of tension in order to start and end your day feeling more comfortable.
Benefits to Evening Stretching:
Before you climb into bed in the evenings, it can be highly beneficial to prepare your body. Your body has been working hard for you all day, and even relaxed days can lead to tension.
If you go to sleep with your body all tensed up, this can lead to a lot of aches and pains. By stretching out your muscles and relieving tension before you go to bed, you are much more likely to wake up without aches and pains.
This can also be a great time to treat yourself with kindness and relax while you wind down for the night. Don’t feel like you have to challenge your body to do the splits or any other crazy flexibility test.
You can always challenge yourself when you go to the gym. Instead take this time to treat your mind and body with some kindness before heading off to sleep.
Learn more about relaxation practices that are good to do before bed in our post: Bedtime Relaxation Exercises
Best Stretches Before Bed:
When you are stretching before bed, try to create a relaxing routine out of it. Turn down the lights, maybe put of some relaxing music or a meditation to follow. Remember, that you can always do a more rigorous stretching routine in the morning.
There are many yoga videos online that can walk you through a routine that is slow and easy going in order to ease yourself to sleep. This can also be a fun time to meditate, listen to a relaxing podcast, or whatever else you like to do that helps you get in the mood for sleep.
You May Also Enjoy: Top Podcasts For Sleep
Evening Stretch Routine:
Below is an ideal routine that is ideal before going to bed to help you relax and release any tension from your head to your toes. Literally, starting at the top of your body and working down.
Relax Your Jaw
A common place for tension is in the jaw, especially for anyone who has the habit of clenching their teeth at night. Try to focusing on releasing this tension.
Open and close your mouth several times while gently massaging your jaw. This can help you let go on this tight feeling and hopefully continue to relax these muscles while you sleep.
Neck & Shoulders
First stand up straight and tall, make sure your knees are not locked, and just slightly bent. Draw both of your shoulders up toward your ears, then push them back and down. Feel free to repeat this a couples of times.
Next allow yourself to drop your head to the left allowing your ear to head toward your shoulder. Take a deep breath in and as you slowly release your breath relax further into the stretch. Then slowing raise your head back to a normal position. Then do the same with your right side.
Remain in your standing position. From here allow your head to gently fall forward. Then slowly, inch by inch lower your head down towards the floor. Feel your spine round and stretch as you move closer to the floor. As you do this, allow your arms to hang freely. Don’t try to hold them stiffly by your side.
When you go as far as you can without fully bending your knees, hang there comfortably for a moment and let gravity stretch out your back. Wrap your arms around your back and take a deep breath in and out. Then slowly roll back up into a standing position.
Move to laying down on the floor on your back. (You could do this laying in bed, however the floor will give you a little more resistance lending to a better overall stretch) Lay your arms straight out so you’re making a T-shape with your body. Allow your head to rest gently looking toward your right hand. Take your right leg bent, left leg straight on the ground, and send your right knee over to the left of you. Touch your knee to the floor if you can and try to keep your shoulders on the ground. Do this again but to your left side.
Legs & Hips
From a laying position sit up straight with your legs out in front of you. slowly stretch your arms out toward your feet. If you can, hold the bottoms of your feet or ankles gently. If not allow your hands to rest on your shins.
Focus more on keeping your back straight and leaning your body forward than reaching your arms as far as they can go. This may mean you do not go very far at all and this is okay. You should feel this stretch on the back of your legs and calves, if you feel pain in your lower back allow yourself to relax out of the stretch.
Next spread your legs apart and go forward again. Then go back and forth stretching toward one leg and then the other. Remember to breath into your stretches and slowly go deeper.
Will exercising in the evenings ruin your sleep? Find the answer to this question in our post Exercise and Sleep: Is Exercise Good For Sleep?
Benefits to Morning Stretching:
We have all had those mornings where you wake up stiff, uncomfortable, or even with painful, numb, or tingly sensations caused by pinched nerves and knots in our muscles. When we sleep our bodies often lay in strange positions for hours on end. Even if you stretched before you went to bed and your muscles felt limber and relaxed, you can still end up waking up with tightness and discomfort.
In this case one of the worst things you can do to your body is jump out of bed and hit the ground running. Especially if you are someone who likes to literally run or workout first thing when you wake up. A good way to ease into your morning is to stretch.
That the time to check in with your body, what feels stiff, what feels uncomfortable. Then take the time to stretch out your body slowly and gently. This is a good way to align your body before starting your day. It can also help you to start to wake up as your mind becomes aware and your body begins to move and wake up.
Looking to create a relaxing morning routine? Then you will love our post: Stress Free Morning Routine
Best Stretches When You Wake Up:
For your morning stretches, it is smart to start slowly however you can also get much more active as you continue to stretch and start your morning. This can be a good way to slowly wake up the body and even begin to get your blood moving again. Feel free to play some energetic music, open up the blinds, turn on some lights and enjoy this precious time of caring for yourself before you start your day.
Morning Stretch Routine:
Ironically enough the best way to start your day is stretching from the ground up. Starting in your lower body and slowly waking up your joints and muscles from your legs to your torso to your neck and head.
Legs & Hips
To start nice and easy, lay on your back on the floor with bent knee. Pull your knees toward your chest and hug them with your arms. Take a few deep breaths in this position. Do this again but one leg at a time with the opposite leg laying down flat.
Now stand up with your feet slightly further than shoulder width apart. Next lower your back and arms toward the ground. Again, try to keep your back nice and straight while you do this. It is more important that your back is straight than it is to touch the ground. Then shift bring your arms to stretch toward your left foot, breath in and out. Then take both of your hands and stretch toward your right foot and breath again.
Sit in the “butterfly position” on the floor. (If you are not familiar, this is when you sit on the floor and put the bottoms of your feet together and allow your knees to go down toward the floor.) If you can let your knees go as close to the ground as possible and learn forward into the stretch. Again keep your back straight during this stretch.
Stand back up straight and go to a wall or door frame. In this stretch you are going to be twisting your upper body in order to stretch your back. Stand facing the wall, take your left hand and place it on the right side of the wall. Then twist your shoulders to the left. Do this process again with your right side of your body. This should open up your back.
Next repeat the stretch we have for nighttime stretches. Start standing up take a deep breath in, and as you breath out slowly lower your head toward the floor.
Slowly stretching out your spine along the way. This time at the bottom, keeping your arms loosey goosey, give yourself a little bounce up and down. Keep it gentle. Then slowly rise back up while taking a deep breath in, and release.
Neck & Shoulders
Take your left hand and place it reaching up over your head and behind the base of your neck. Your elbow should be pointing up to the sky. Next take your right hand and gently push on your left elbow.
Not too hard, this is just a gentle assist in the stretch. Repeat on your right side. Finish off your morning stretches with letting your head rest over toward one shoulder, breathing in and out. Then the other side. Then you are ready to start your day!
Curious to learn more about meditation? Head over to our post: Meditation for Sleep, Anxiety & Healing
Guide To Stretching – Final Thoughts
These stretches that we have recommended are just that, recommendations! They are stretches we know has worked for us personally, but there is no majestical secret to these specific stretches. Find a stretching routine that works well for you.
Also, listen to your body while you’re stretching. If you need to stretch out a particular area for longer or with additional positions, do it. Or if there is a stretch that doesn’t feel like it is doing much for you, try something else.
All that matters is that you are treating your body right and taking care of yourself. We hope this post is helpful and that you have fun stretching!
Have a question for us? Send us a message! We love to hear from our readers and we would love to help you out in anyway we can.