Getting yourself up and moving in the morning isn’t always easy. You might find that on some days, you wake up feeling achy and full of tension. This could be caused by inactivity the previous day, having worked on a laptop for long uninterrupted periods of time, overdoing a particular activity, or maybe just from sleeping in a weird position.
Please accept this holiday gift of the Fab 5 Morning Stretches to help release tension, relieve achiness, and get you moving with ease in the morning.
Inspired by nature, research, and my own body’s morning crankiness, I’m sharing what I found works well. By all means, add any of your favorite stretches in if you have the time.
I curated this list to ensure efficiency (short and sweet), effectiveness, and achievability.
You’ll notice in the video I mention pandiculation. Besides being a cool sounding word, it is an integral part of our sleep wake cycle.
According to Walusinski (2006), Pandiculation is the involuntary stretching of the soft tissues, which occurs in most animal species and is associated with transitions between cyclic biological behaviors, especially the sleep-wake rhythm.
Yawning is considered a special case of pandiculation that affects the musculature of the mouth, respiratory system and upper spine (Baenninger, 1997).
Yawning is probably one of the best ways to stretch in the morning. That’s why I incorporated a yawn in two of my Fab 5 Stretches. It’s easy to stimulate a yawn, except when you’re filming yourself!
Here’s what’s working and stretching during a yawn. When you examine it closely, it’s a pretty comprehensive list!
- Lungs – Yawning sucks in an increased load of air to boost the oxygen circulating in your body instantly kick starting your energy and vitality.
- Eyes – When you yawn it’s amazing, your eyes squeeze shut, contracting the circular muscles around them moisten your eyeballs so when you open them your vision brightens sending a jolt to that region of your brain that deals with consciousness, self-reflection, memory retrieval and alertness!
- Mouth – yawning stretches your mouth open, your nostrils flare and stretch all your facial muscles including your palate, lips, forehead, chin all from the inside out.
- Ears – remarkably you’re also stretching your ears inside and out when you yawn.
- Neck – The act of yawning causes you to involuntarily tilt your head back. This opens your throat effectively stretching the front and back of your neck.
- Torso – When you draw in that breath, your diaphragm expands, your ribcage widens 3 dimensionally, your back arches so all your vertebrae get a wake up nudge, you trigger those large back muscles, your tummy stretches waking up your stomach, and these movements start to massage your liver, your intestines and your bladder!
If you think in terms of kinetic energy, a yawn stretches your body like a rubber band. All the connective tissue pulls, then you release. Your body stretches to its “end feel”, innately knowing that’s as far as it can go without causing harm. It’s arguably the safest stretch you can do! It’s like nature’s little adrenaline shot to help wake you up.
So, yawn your way to a great day!
Happy Hands and Feet Exercise Cheat Sheet
Roll Back and Forth with
- Palm Up
- Knife Edge
- Palm Down
Squeeze and Release
Roll Back and Forth Lightly
Press and Roll Deeply
In and Out (inversion/eversion)
Squeeze and lift