Rise and Shine: 8 Stretches You Should Do Each Morning


By: , – Suzanne Bowen, Creator of BarreAmped
4/11/2014 5:00 AM   :  42 comments   :  1,137,928 Views

One of the best ways to start your day in a healthy way is to take a moment to ground your thoughts by stretching and intentionally breathing.  It's amazing what you can accomplish in less than seven minutes to set your day on the right path.  
When you stretch deeply, you should always be warm.  So performing this series after a morning workout or after a hot shower is optimal. If you do it right out of bed, make sure you stretch more gently.  

Here are eight stretches to add to your morning routine to feel strong, flexible and grounded. These exercises cover all your major muscle groups and can be followed any time of day, including after your workouts.
Upper Back Release
Targets the upper back and back of shoulders.
Standing with feet hip-distance apart, clasp hands and round upper back keeping arms straight and active.

Think about the shoulder blades spreading wide across your back.

Hold stretch for 2-3 deep breaths.

Chest Release
Targets the chest, front of shoulders and biceps.
Holding a wall, door frame or window ledge with left arm, step forward with left leg and turn entire body to the right especially at the hips.  

Hold stretch for 4-6 deep breaths increasing stretch with the pivot at the hips.  Repeat on the other side.

Side Stretch
Targets the IT band (outer thigh), obliques and shoulders.
Standing with right hand on bed or wall, cross left leg in front of right leg, feet pointing forward.

Shift into the left hip and reach left arm up and over head, creating a long line from the left ankle to the left fingertips.  

Hold and take 2-3 deep inhales and exhales.  Repeat on right.

Seated Spinal Twist
Targets the spine, neck and shoulders.
Sitting on a chair or edge of bed with legs together, lengthen spine rotate from the waist, placing one hand behind you and the other hand on your outer thigh for support.

For a deeper stretch for the neck, turn your gaze to look over your shoulder as well.

Hold 2-3 deep breaths.  Repeat other side.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
Targets hamstrings.

Supporting yourself for balance as needed, bring right leg up onto a step or bench, increasing height as flexibility increases.  Keep legs hips distance and parallel and keep back leg straight (if possible) and front foot flexed.  

If you need to increase stretch, hinge at the hips (not the waist or back), keeping the spine completely straight.  Don't round the spine.

Take 4-6 deep breaths. Repeat other side.  
Standing Quad Stretch
Targets quadriceps.
Holding a chair, wall or bed for support, stand with feet hip-distance apart. Soften left knee and reach for your right foot or ankle, bending the right knee to point straight down to the floor.

Keep pelvis neutral and spine tall with the crown of your  head reaching to the ceiling.  

Hold for 4-6 deep breaths.  Repeat other side.

Outer Hip Stretch
Targets hips and outer thighs.

Lift left leg, knee bent, onto bed. Square off hips and make sure front knee is outside of front shoulder.

Keeping tailbone untucked and spine straight, hinge forward at the hips, placing hands on the bed for support.

Hold for 4-6 deep breaths then change sides.

Standing Forward Bend
Targets hamstrings and lower back.
Standing with feet hip-distance apart and knees slightly bent, hinge forward at the hips.  Allow your upper body to hang over your legs and clasp elbows.  

(Note: Do not "hang" from elbows if you have any lower back issues. Instead, place hands on floor or legs for support.)

Hold for 2-3 deep breaths while you gently shake your head no and even more gently nod your head yes.   To come up, pull in abs and gently round up one vertebra at a time.

What is your favorite way to start the day on a healthy note? Do you have a regular stretching routine?

About the Author
Suzanne Bowen encourages excellence, not perfection. Her mission is to inspire people to be the best versions of themselves that they can be. Classically trained at the prestigious Lotte Berk Method in NYC, Suzanne Bowen is the creator of Suzanne Bowen Fitness, an efficient mind-body technique that combines cutting-edge cardio, intelligent strengthening and dynamic stretching. Students flock to Suzanne because of her encouraging, no nonsense, straightforward teaching approach that provides targeted and overall results while guiding people to be the best they can be. From her training in modern and classical dance, Pilates, yoga and deep stretching, Suzanne has also developed the highly successful BarreAmped program that is licensed to over 50 studios worldwide and continues to grow under her tutelage. "BarreAmped" and "BarreAmped Boot Camp," are her newest DVDs and epitomize the best of her Barre targeted workouts.

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    good to see how I can do these at home. I do most of these in the pool at water aeorbics. - 8/16/2016   3:34:03 PM
  • 41
    I will have to try these in the morning. Very helpful Thank you.. - 7/27/2016   10:05:01 AM
  • FRVM19
    These are great stretches to do daily. They increase flexibility and make you feel good. - 6/6/2016   9:46:06 AM
  • 39
    The only time my whole body is not in pain is when I stretch every day. Stretching also helps avoid injuries. Knowing this, you'd think I would always do my daily stretches wouldn't you? Nope! Added to my to do list! - 6/4/2016   7:49:21 PM
  • 38
    I love stretching, but this was a little hard to follow in text. I wonder if there is a video available. That would be helpful! - 6/3/2016   4:58:11 PM
  • 37
    Great stretches, but I think I need a walk first. - 3/22/2016   9:21:45 AM
    Yes, I find the older I get the more stretching I have to do to feel good. I actually start the day out by doing some stretches in my bed before I get out of it! - 2/4/2016   8:00:55 AM
  • 35
    I start my morning with a big stretch and then I walk around the house for at least 5 minutes to get everything moving. - 2/3/2016   1:51:40 PM
  • 34
    I copied and printed this. What a great way to start a day. Looking forward to trying these tomorrow morning. - 2/3/2016   1:51:08 PM
  • 33
    These look like great stretches. I copied and pasted them so I could print a copy. SparkPeople, please bring back the print feature you used to have on articles to make this easier! Thanks! - 2/3/2016   10:07:39 AM
  • 32
    @ Rondajo56 -- look for the "More" icon at the top and bottom of most blogs and articles -- with 3 vertical lines. If you click that, you can see how to Save the article, video, etc for future reference. Then: To find your SparkFavorites once they have been saved:

    Roll your mouse over the "Today on SparkPeople" tab near the top of the screen.
    A menu will open up.
    Click on the link for "My SparkFavorites," which is located under the Quick Links section.
    You will now see a list of the SparkPeople articles, message board posts, and videos that you have saved as a SparkFavorite. - 2/3/2016   9:07:00 AM
  • 31
    I can do most of the stretches except the quad only half do it. can't hold foot so I put on chair. I hope that ok. how can we save this page so I can use it until I know these by heart. This is good for me. - 2/3/2016   7:53:43 AM
  • 30
    Good stretching plan. - 9/17/2015   9:42:08 AM
  • 29
    great stretching plan i cut and pasted the plan thanks for the reshare. I missed it the first time . - 6/8/2015   10:03:16 AM
  • 28
    Wish there was a way to have simple 'print' option for this routine so I could have it by the bed to get into (like one page, not an 8 page article). Or at least a way to ad it to a favorite workout page within Sparkpeople to find later. - 4/3/2015   11:44:16 AM
    Something else that energizes me in the mornings is having nice and clean and fresh workout clothes! You should definitely try Rockin' Green Sport Rock. It's amazing at getting stains and smells out! www.rockingreensoap.com - 2/1/2015   9:18:41 PM
  • 26
    That chest stretch has an extra benefit - it helps your shoulders relax as well! - 1/29/2015   4:23:49 PM
  • 25
    Thanks. These can also be used as desk break stretches! - 11/29/2014   8:30:27 AM
    Can anyone tell me what brand this shirt is? - 11/12/2014   4:46:17 PM
    I had my own routine that I did every morning. This will be my new routine! I just completed it and I feel better already! I missed a couple of areas on my own! The outer hip stretch and side stretch really helped me. - 9/12/2014   6:40:22 AM
    This is a great added way to start my day..... Thank you very much.
    Next I'll try it again after my workout - 6/9/2014   1:09:02 PM
    Great exercises I can do after my morning shower. I even have a bench at the foot of my bed too. Thank you! - 5/17/2014   12:31:46 PM
  • 20
    I love stretching and yoga and have added these to my daily routine! Thanks for the great article! - 5/16/2014   8:52:16 AM
  • 19
    thanks! - 5/5/2014   6:14:57 AM
  • 18
    Feels awesome!! Fast and worth it. - 4/30/2014   10:54:09 AM
  • 17
    Early Sunday workouts are fun if you have the track or court to your self, and watch out for the predators. - 4/26/2014   12:29:43 PM
  • 16
    I loved this article the first time I saw it and shared it, and noticed it again and had to re-share to make sure everyone knows that I really love it. :) - 4/26/2014   12:03:19 PM
  • 15
    My upper back between my shoulder blades always feels so tight. I'm going to try these stretches to see if it helps!! - 4/15/2014   10:17:19 PM
  • 14
    All great stretches. I'll do them tomorrow morning, and try to keep on, doing them. I love to stretch, and these will energize me. Thank you. - 4/14/2014   9:34:07 PM
  • 13
    I'm going to try to make this a daily morning routine! - 4/14/2014   3:52:52 PM
  • 12
    Love will forsure try it - 4/12/2014   6:05:57 PM
    We can make time! It's worth getting up 30 minutes earlier. - 4/12/2014   4:12:14 PM
    Who has time in the morning? If you don't work maybe. - 4/12/2014   11:34:39 AM
  • 9
    These are good. Not sure when I would do them, though. I'm flying low once I get up in the morning. - 4/12/2014   10:26:44 AM
  • 8
    Thanks this is a GOD SEND ! - 4/11/2014   9:45:47 PM
  • 7
    Love will forsure try it - 4/11/2014   6:10:55 PM
  • 6
    Love will forsure try it - 4/11/2014   6:07:19 PM
  • 5
    Thanks for the article. I have been looking for a good stretching routine, and I'm sure I will use this.

    You can save this by clicking on the "Save" icon to the left of the article. Easy, but I would like to see SP make a way to separate your saved articles into categories. - 4/11/2014   3:02:30 PM
  • 4
    great article! - 4/11/2014   11:31:37 AM
  • 3
    Can we put this article in favorites? - 4/11/2014   10:47:21 AM
  • 2
    I will start morning stretches tomorrow and put it on my daily morning chores list then check it off. - 4/11/2014   10:39:00 AM
  • 1
    I think I am going to start morning stretches. I really only stretch when exercising. This is a good thought.

    Thanks for the great article. - 4/11/2014   9:01:47 AM

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