Stretch Yourself Into a Good Day

Starting your day with morning stretches gets your blood flowing, strengthens your muscles, improves your mobility, makes you more flexible, helps lower back pain, guards against injury and can improve your posture.

That’s a lot of taking care of yourself before you even down your first cup of coffee, tea or breakfast smoothie.

We’re not talking stretching before a workout — we know that’s good for us — but rolling out of bed into a stretch to ready your body for the day. It only takes five to 10 minutes, taking it slow and easy. Nothing intense.

The experts suggest light walking and jogging for a few minutes first.

Now, grab a mat or take advantage of carpeting or a secure rug and stretch out in your bedroom, TV room (ask Alexa to play some easy-listening music — or ocean sounds) or perhaps your back porch, and try these movements.

Repetition helps, but don’t go overboard. Start with six to eight repetitions or fewer as you listen to your body.

Neck circles. Here’s where we hold a lot of stress and tension, so let’s start here.

Sitting upright or standing, clasp your hands behind your back to help pull your shoulders back. Now lower your chin to your chest and slowly roll your head so your right ear moves toward your right shoulder. Emphasis on slowly; look up at the ceiling and continue so your left ear falls toward your left shoulder; then return your chin to your chest. Now reverse.

If you feel any discomfort, pause and keep the stretch about 30 seconds before continuing. Go for three to four times each direction.

Mountain pose. This stretch works your torso, legs, core and arms, which helps your posture while being a solid foundation for other stretches.

Place your feet together with your arms at your sides, palms facing forward. Roll your shoulders and elongate your neck. Ground through your feet as you lift through the crown of your head. The thighs and waist lift and the spine elongates. Deep breaths.

Cobra pose. Lie prone and stretch your legs back with the tops of the feet on the floor. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders and gently squeeze your elbows into your body.

Hip CARS (controlled articular rotations). This movement aids your range of motion in an almost full circle to gain hip mobility.

Start on your hands and knees. Keep your spine neutral (don’t shift your weight) and lift one leg to the side and bend it behind you. Return leg back to ground and reverse movement.

Child’s pose. This is considered a restorative pose for stretching hips, thighs and spine. If you slept wrong, this irons out some kinks.

Kneel on all fours with knees directly under your hips with your big toes touching. If feeling too much pressure on knees, widen your toes. As you inhale, feel your spine grow longer. Then, as you let your breath out, take your butt back to your heels and tuck your chin to your chest.

Rest with your forehead on the ground and arms stretched out. (You can also put your arms next to your body, palms up if you prefer.) Hold for five deep, even breaths.