I woke up yesterday with extremely stiff neck and shoulders. It was so painful and restrictive that the stiffness was soon threatening to become a fully-fledged headache. I’m sure that you’ve had such experiences too. Especially during the winter months, when you tend to huddle that much more for warmth while sleeping, waking up with stiff muscles is a reality. I've certainly had this experience before, so I knew what to do: drink plenty of water and stretch. By the time I was done with the stretches, the stiffness and pain was gone.
Stretching is important to keep your muscles flexible and strong, so that your joints can perform their full range of motion. For those of you who exercise everyday, the stretches that should form a part of your warmup routine should help ease out the kinks from your shoulders and back. However, for those who don’t necessarily work out, you should still do some basic stretches every morning to help with your mobility.
Stretches hardly take any time to do and the relief they can give you is instantaneous. What’s more, there are plenty of great stretching videos out there on YouTube from trained experts. Pick the ones you need or want to try out, and just go ahead. I’m going to link to two excellent stretching videos here, one to do in the morning after you wake up, and the other one to recover from an intense workout. While the first one is perfect for easing out your back and entire frame, the second one works perfectly to show your sore muscles some much needed TLC.
Before you do any of these stretches, remember to hydrate yourself well. When you’re stretching, remember to breathe slow and deep through the stretching process. Don’t hurry through them, and don’t over–extend your muscles and joints.
Remember, the point of stretching in the morning is to ensure better mobility. This is more important than you think. It is a fact that physical inactivity is a leading cause for death across the world. How mobile you are dictates how healthy you will remain as you grow older. In the following video from Calisthenic Movement, you will be taken through two moves: the deep squat and the downward dog to cobra pose transition. Both are relatively easy to do and are excellent for your spine and for activating the muscles surrounding it.
If you workout every week, it is highly likely that your body will be sore from the training. That’s what rest days in your training regimen are for. In the following video, expert trainer Kristi Emaro takes you through five of her favourite stretches to recover from intense workouts. You could try doing these stretches everyday, as Emaro does, or integrate some of them into your workout plan as per your convenience. Have fun!