Best stretches your body needs after you wake up

woman stretching forward

Feeling a little stiff first thing in the morning? Or maybe not quite ready to get up and get started on that work day? Use these best stretches after you wake up to ease your body and mind into the day ahead! If you aren’t a morning person, it may even be another tip you could add to help you get up in the morning. With a ton of stretching techniques out there, we filtered through them to find what we feel are the best stretches after you wake up. 

Stretching is not only good for the body’s muscles, joints & circulation, it is also good for the mind & soul. If something is that good for you, why not get your day started on the right foot and stretch after you wake up? Maybe you aren’t sure what stretches you to do. Depending on how you are feeling or what your body is capable of, these stretches are categorized by how they best help your body after you wake up. Stretch out while still in bed or quietly on the floor. Either way, stretching is a great way to start the day. 

Improve circulation

Getting your blood pumping for better blood circulation is important. The upward or upper body stretch is known to help improve blood circulation which is why it is first on the list of best stretches after you wake up.

Upper back stretch

To perform this stretch, lock your fingers together and push your palms up overhead. Make sure your palms are facing up and push upward until you begin to feel the stretch down into your arms & ribcage. Try to keep a fairly straight back while holding the pose for about 10 seconds. 

For more of a torso stretch, take your arms up in the same position and bend to the left or right side. Hold that stretch for 10 seconds on each side. 

woman stretching her upper body

Cat-Cow stretch

Alternating between the Cat and Cow stretch position can improve spinal fluid circulation. Allowing your spine to move around and lubricate before you start your day can be very beneficial. This stretch is also great for stretching the back and torso. Being a stomach sleeper, this stretch helps to relieve a lot of lower back tension when waking up. 

To perform this stretch get on to all fours. Check to be sure your shoulders are over your wrists and your hips are over your knees. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly, rounding your upper back to move into “Cat” position. Inhale deeply and let your stomach sink down and your back arch up. Look up at the ceiling and you have completed the “Cow” position. Repeat these steps for 5 breaths if able.

woman arching back on all fours
woman curving back on all fours

Ease Tension

Tension. We all have it. What causes it or where on your body it may be most tense, looks different from person to person but we all still have it. Stretching allows your body to relieve some of that built up tension quickly.

Child's pose

If I had to pick a favorite stretch, this would hands down be the one for me. I’m a stomach sleeper (even though my back wishes I wasn’t) so jumping into this stretch after I wake up is key to getting me moving. This stretch works the thighs, hips, pelvis & spine, making it a real winner of a stretch after you wake up.

To perform the stretch, get on all fours. Sit back onto your feet and be sure your toes are touching. Take a deep breath and on the exhale, bend at the hips and move your chin towards your chest as you bend towards the floor. With your arms outstretched, take 5 full breaths, slowly pushing your butt backwards with each exhale. 

woman in child's pose

Neck/Shoulder stretches

Another area that builds up a lot of tension when we sleep is the neck/shoulder area. This stretch may seem simple but it can be such a valuable stretch for you after you wake up. With all the screen time our necks deal with these days, spending time on a neck stretch is always a good idea. 

To perform the first stretch, sit on your bed or chair with your legs crossed & good, straight posture. From here, bend your head to the left so that your left ear is trying to touch your shoulder. You should feel the stretching on the right side of your neck and even down into your right shoulder. Hold the stretch for about 20 seconds and then repeat the same thing on the other side by stretching your right ear towards your right shoulder.

Next, take a few deep breathes and then start slowly rolling your shoulders forward and then backwards. Move your shoulders in each direction for roughly 10-20 seconds. From there, lift your shoulders up towards your ears and then have them drop back down. Repeat this 5-10 times. 

Lastly, move your left arm across your body and gently apply pressure at the elbow with your right hand, pushing your arm gently against your body. After 20 seconds, switch arms and repeat the stretch with your right arm. You should feel a slight stretch in your shoulders.  

woman stretching shoulder

Wake up your legs

If you have been following along and doing these stretches in order, your body is hopefully a bit loosened up now. So if you’re still in bed at this point, go ahead and rip the bandaid and get up for this last stretch. This stretch is meant to wake up your legs (and you) for the day!

Standing quad stretch

Our legs and especially our quads are some of the most worked muscles in the body. Getting a good stretch in after you wake up can be very beneficial. 

With the assistance of a chair or wall (if needed), stand up with your feet hip width apart. Reach backward and grab your left foot with your left hand. Gently pull your foot closer to your body to feel the stretch in your quad and hips. After 10-20 seconds, drop your foot back down and repeat on the right leg.

woman stretching quad

Safety first

Remember to check with your doctor to be sure your body is able to perform any of these stretches routinely. Practice safe stretching by listening to your body and not pushing yourself to do more than you are able.

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