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creating a morning stretch routine
Image courtesy of Nike
As one of the giants of the sports and fitness industry, Nike carries a lot of clout when it comes to health and wellness tips. So when Dina Cheney reached out to me for my views on creating an effective morning stretch routine, I was glad to offer my insights as a licensed Physical Therapist. Here are some excerpts from the article interspersed with my own commentary, along with a link to the full article at the Nike website.

Debbie Dy, DPT

What Are the Benefits of Creating a Morning Stretch Routine?

It's part of our nature as mammals to feel the urge to stretch when first waking up. Lions, bears, and squirrels all do it too! It gets the blood flowing and helps erase the cobwebs that seem to gather when we're in a deep slumber. So it only makes sense to follow what our bodies are telling us by making a good stretching regimen part of waking up each day.

And as the article says,

Flowing through some gentle movements at the start of your day will not only help to prepare your body for movement — of any kind — but it may also help improve flexibility over time."

To begin, once you have decided how much time you have and pinpointed which areas need attention, you should try to pick compound movements that target major muscle groups. Compound movements are important to take into consideration so you can recruit several muscles in just one movement rather than having to do multiple isolated ones.

If you don't have time to go to a morning yoga class, no problem — there are plenty of movements you can do on your own right at home to relieve tension. Please note that there are full instructions for each move in the Nike article. 

Try the following sequence of moves, performing each stretch for two to four repetitions of 30 seconds each to increase flexibility:

1.Cat/Cow

This pose provides relief to the neck and back and engages the core, strengthening the abdominal muscles.

2.Child’s Pose

With this movement, you’ll open the hips, increase blood flow to the head and neck, focus on the spine and relax the back muscles and hips.

3.Thread the Needle

To stretch and open the shoulders, chest, arms, upper back and neck, try this pose.

4.Seated Side Stretch

Add this movement, which stretches and strengthens the muscles between the ribs, to your routine as it ultimately helps to facilitate deeper breathing.

5.Upper Trap Stretch

This pose helps to reduce tightness in the neck.

6.Shoulder Rolls

With this pose, you stretch the muscles and tendons and promote joint lubrication in the shoulders, helping to reduce tension.

7.Standing Forward Fold

Choose this pose to help stretch the spinal column, backs of the legs and back muscles.

Perhaps the biggest boon of adopting a stretching routine is that it helps to reduce the risk of injury. Everyday activities, like sitting for long periods of time, can cause muscles to tense and spasm, for instance. When this occurs, muscles may not respond the way you need them to, making them more prone to damage and injury.

Other topics in the Nike article include:

  • How Often Should You Engage in a Morning Stretch Routine?
  • Dynamic vs. Static Stretching: What’s the Difference?
  • Should You Modify Your Morning Stretch Routine Over Time?
  • Consider Incorporating an Evening Stretch Routine, as Well
  • Consider adding a stretch routine right before bed. Since the goal of this type of practice is to relax the muscles before bedtime, Daugherty recommended engaging in slower static movements.

To get the full lowdown on creating a morning stretch routine go here to the full article at Nike's website. And go here if you're ready to make an appointment with myself or any of our licensed physical therapists.

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