Stretching is a vital part of any morning routine. Unfortunately, it is also something that is overlooked by the younger, middle-aged, and older generations. While it is easy to say, “I’ll stretch later in the day,” numerous medical institutions, including the American College of Sports Medicine, suggest that stretching in the morning can have countless health benefits.
Benefit #1. Improve Your Posture Without Carrying Books on Your Head
Many people are stuck carrying a backpack or over-the-shoulder bag every day, which can lead to a semi-permanent slouched position. This poor posture increases exponentially every time that you sit in front of a computer or tablet for extended periods of time. Together, these two positions can lead to overstretched back muscles, a cramped neck, as well as tight chest and shoulder muscles. By implementing a morning stretching routine, you can focus on opening up these muscle groups to effectively loosen them up. As the muscles loosen up, your good posture will return; you might even feel as if a weight has been lifted from your shoulders.
Benefit #2. Say Good Morning With More Energy
It’s hard to make it through any day of the week when you struggle to find energy in the morning. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, stretching can increase blood flow throughout your body, which can lead to sharpened senses, increased levels of concentration, and inevitably higher energy levels. To enjoy this important benefit, all you need to do is shake of your morning lethargy with a few minutes of full-body stretching.
Benefit #3. Increase Your Flexibility
Did you know that stretching can increase your flexibility? Any athlete will tell you that flexibility is a crucial component to high performance levels both during practice and competitions. The goal of increased flexibility is to improve muscle elasticity, regain lost mobility, and reduce the effects of daily wear and tear. It is also important to note that as you age, your body will naturally become less flexible. By developing a morning stretching routine, you can not only reduce your body’s natural tendency toward inflexibility, but you can also help to reduce the risks of injury. Remember the more flexible you are, the more supple your muscles groups will be, which means that you can jump, dodge, sprint, and turn on a dime all with a reduced risk of injuring yourself on the field.
Benefit #4. Reduce Aches, Pains, And Stiffness
For most people, aches and pains are greatest in the morning. The reason for this is simple — the body has been in the same horizontal position for an extended period of time. When we sleep, there is often an increase of fluid to various joints, which can increase pain, aches, and stiffness, especially in athletes. Fortunately, morning stretching sessions can eliminate aches, pains, and general stiffness in your muscles and joints. No matter your age or your stiffness levels, it is best to start with gentle stretches. Start by slowly shaking out your arms and legs. Next, focus on specific muscle groups as you begin to work out the kinks. From slowly rotating your neck in circles, to touching your toes and completing slow trunk twists, there are many ways that you can stretch your body to alleviate aches, pains, and stiffness.
The Bottom Line: Prepare For the Day Ahead With Morning Stretches
From avid lacrosse players preparing for weekend tournaments to track and field runners and everyone in between, completing a few simple morning stretches can help you to prepare both mentally and physically for the day ahead. If you want to improve your posture, gain the flexibility needed to score the winning goal, enjoy more energy, and reduce aches, pains, and stiffness from summer practice sessions, morning stretching can deliver the daily benefits that you need to succeed both on and off the field.