Best Morning Stretches You Can Do in Bed

By | January 15, 2021

When you wake up—after you’ve hit snooze one too many times but before you grab your phone to scan through emails—take the time to do something good for your body. Morning stretches are usually never top of anyone’s list, but what if we said you didn’t have to get out of bed. These morning stretches can all be done lying down…and still half asleep.

A regimen like this can serve as a pre-workout warmup or a wake-up ritual to prime your body for a day spent at your desk. Stretching sets a positive tone for the day by resetting posture, getting blood flowing, and giving you a feeling of accomplishment. Even on your busiest days, where perhaps a workout is not possible, you can feel better knowing you at least took action to prevent long-term injury and deterioration.

Note: A firmer mattress makes a stretching routine easier. A softer mattress also works, much like a physioball or BOSU ball, by adding to the degree of difficulty with an unstable surface.

7 Morning Stretches You Can Do Without Leaving Bed

1. Toe Circles

While on your back, grab one leg with two hands beneath the knee, raising it to a 90-degree angle. Rotate your foot 10 times in a clockwise motion, then rotate 10 times in a counterclockwise motion. Be sure to move from the ankle, not the toes. This helps with ankle mobility, which is key to moving fluidly and avoiding falls. The ankles take a beating in everyday life and this keeps the joints open and working properly.

Perform 2 x 10 reps each side  

2. Glute Bridges

Lie on your back with knees bent 90 degrees, feet on the mattress. Squeeze your glutes and bridge your hips toward the ceiling. Only your shoulders and hips should remain on the bed. Hold for two seconds, then lower your hips toward the bed stopping an inch above. This move activates your glutes, which tend to turn off from sitting all day.

Perform 2 x 10 reps

3. Straight-Leg Lowering

Lie on your back with arms at your sides and legs straight up above hips. Keeping one leg straight, slowly lower the other until it’s hovering just over the bed. Return to the starting position and repeat. The key is to keep toes flexed toward your shins and back flat on the bed. This stretches the hamstrings while challenging the muscles of the chest and torso.

Perform 2 x 10 reps each side

4. Knee Hugs

Lying on your back, lift your right knee toward your chest and grab below the knee with your hands. Pull your right knee to your chest while squeezing the left glute. Return to the starting position and repeat on left side. Continue alternating sides. This simple move stretches the hamstring and glute of your front leg as well as the hip flexor of your back leg.

Perform 2 x 10 reps each side

5. Rib Opener

Lie on your left side with the left (bottom) leg straight and your right (top) leg at a 90-degree angle atop a folded-over pillow. Your left hand is on your right knee. Reach right arm across your chest as if pinning a newspaper to your chest. Pull your chest to the right, getting a good stretch. Hold for two seconds. This move lengthens and strengthens the muscles of the chest and back, creating mobility in the thoracic spine.

Perform 2 x 10 reps each side  

6. V-Sit Crunch

Begin on your back with hands extended over your head. Lift your legs and crunch up at the same time, forming your body into the shape of a “V.” (By doing one ahead of the other you lose a lot of the effectiveness of the movement.) Exhale as you lift your legs and crunch, then inhale as you return to the starting position. This challenges your abs and helps build core strength.

Perform 2 x 10 reps with a 30-second breather between sets

7. Child’s Pose

From a kneeling position, touch your big toes together and sit on your heels. Separate your knees about hip-width apart and lay your torso down between your thighs. Place your hands on the bed along your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. You should feel the weight of the front of the shoulders pulling the shoulder blades wide across your back. The familiar yoga resting pose is effective for stretching out the shoulders, which hunch over from too much sitting.

Pete Williams is a NASM certified personal trainer and the author and co-author of several books on performance and training.


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