Stretching as we wake up in the morning is an involuntary act for most of us.
Many experts also recommend slow, gentle stretching just before getting into bed. Research suggests that doing so enhances sleep quality by relaxing our muscles and mind.
Eliminating muscle tension and improving blood flow also reduces the chances of waking up with stiff, achy muscles (though stretching in the morning also is a good idea).
Reduced stress, improved mood, added flexibility, avoiding injury and inflammation and other positives come with stretching whenever you do it, so there are many good reasons to add it to your evening wind-down routine.
The typical advice is to stretch for about 10 minutes about 30 to 60 minutes before you expect to go to sleep. Warming up your muscles with a hot shower, heating pad or another gentle method and slow, rhythmic breathing while you stretch will give you even better results.
Try these moves to start:
Standing quadriceps stretch
- Stand with the feet hip-width apart and a straight back. Hold a wall or the back of a chair with one arm for balance.
- Lift one leg up behind the body, bringing the heel toward the buttocks.
- Grasp the ankle and gently pull the heel closer to the body. Avoid arching or twisting the back.
- Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then release and repeat with the opposite leg for a total of three repetitions.
- Sit with a straight back and gently bring the chin down toward the chest.
- Roll the head to the right, so that the ear is over the right shoulder. Hold for 5 seconds, then gently roll the head back toward the chest.
- Roll the head to the left, so that the ear is over the left shoulder. Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly roll the head back in a clockwise circle three times.
- Reverse the direction and gently roll the head in a counterclockwise circle three times.
- Repeat three times.