While waking up in the morning itself can be hard work for many of us, it doesn’t mean we neglect taking care of the body. Especially if a few simple exercises each day can keep the spine and joints healthy. While we’ve covered the best short and quick workouts to do after waking up in the morning, this piece will break it down exercise by exercise and why you should be doing them for a long and healthy work life, if not for the aesthetics of fitness itself.
You can pick and choose which ones to do every day and in any order you like, depending on which parts of the body you want to focus on. But remember, consistency is the key to these exercises—there is no magic workout which can be done once to fix issues, and you will start seeing positive changes only after a couple of weeks. It is important to be patient with these low-impact exercises, some of which might even bore you, but the return on investment of time will be worth it.
The Bird Dog: Consider the bird dog as one of the all-time classics when it comes to conditioning work. I am a big fan of increasing balance, and this one does exactly that along with increasing core strength and flexibility. It is also one of the easiest exercises to do: get on all fours, with your head, neck and back all in one line and extend one arm forward while doing the same with the opposite leg. Do the same for both sides. Be slow, controlled, and make sure you are using your core to trigger the movements. Try and maintain your composure, go slow, feel how the body reacts, moves, and tries to stay stable.
Wrist mobility and strength: We type all day. We type on computers, we type on phones, we type on remote controls. It is kind of shocking we don’t give as much importance to wrist-health when compared to knees and shoulders, despite probably using them the most. There are intricate structures in the wrist and fingers, receptors that allow us to feel, touch, and grip, almost involuntarily at times. These tire out over a period of years of use, and it is important to make sure they are strengthened and stretched. There are many exercises for the wrist, as shown in the video above. It is not necessary to do all of them, and you can also work on your wrist strength in the gym.
The step and reach: Static stretches are surely important, but fitness experts have agreed that dynamic stretching is what really helps one stay mobile and agile. The step and reach is a brilliant exercise where you should lunge into three or four directions (of your choice) and throw your arms forward while going forward in the motion of the lunge. What this does is provide extension in a dynamic way which will also help your body’s functional movement. The first exercise in the video above is the step and reach, and you should absolutely do this, if nothing else.
Rotations and twists: Reaching up, reaching down, and reaching forward are all important, but so is twisting. It wakes up the spine which is mostly slouched or in one position throughout the day. Which means a lot of spinal injuries might happen due to a sudden turn that your spine might not be used to, and this is why you must train it. There are two exercises which really help here. One is the spider crawl with an added twist at the end, and the other and slightly easier version is threading the needle with a side plank. Not only will it work your core, but also your thoracic spine and obliques.
The 90-90 hip mobility stretch: Now that we’ve worked on the spine, the core, and the wrists, we get to the hips. The 90-90 stretch is fantastic as a hip opener, and involves both internal and external rotations. This might be slightly tough, and it is recommended that you do not power through it. If your body refuses to rotate in a particular way, do not force it, because it might need more work to get to the point of doing the exercise properly. The 90-90 is called that because you sit on the floor with both knees at 90 degree angles, almost as if in the starting point of a pigeon pose in yoga. You then twist onto the other side with some rest in between for a groin stretch. The video above is a great example of doing this exercise so that you’re not stiff throughout the day. The hips are important, and weight bearing, so you must train it to remain strong and stable during all activities in life.
Pulasta Dhar is a football commentator and writer.