Six Stretches to Liven Up Your Morning Routine

An incredible good morning stretch makes my list of all-time top-ten best feelings. While the old-fashioned arms to the sky pose is a classic, of course, sometimes you just want to switch it up. When the urge for something new arises, wake up your senses with one of my x favorite morning stretches.

Child's pose

You can do this yoga resting pose on the floor with a blanket or mat. Start on your hands and knees, with knees aligned with your hips and big toes together. Lengthen your spine as you inhale, then tuck your chin to your chest as you rest your rear on your heels and exhale. Stretch your arms overhead, palms flat on the ground, and rest your forehead on the floor. Hold for five deep breaths to beat early morning fatigue and soothe any stiffness that's cropped up overnight.

Cat and cow pose

More of a flow than a stretch, cat and cow works wonders for the spine. Start on all fours on your mat or blanket with hands directly under your shoulders. As you breathe in, drop your torso down and lift your gaze to the sky. Raise your tailbone as you gently press your stomach toward the floor.

On the exhale, bring the belly back up and drop the chin. Round the back (think of a Halloween cat) as you tuck in your "tail." Do several reps at the pace of your own breath for a quick asana to get your day rolling.

Knees to chest 

Next, flip over on your back and pull your knees toward your chest, exerting only gentle pressure. Hold for about 30 seconds and do three reps for a stretch that can alleviate bloating and back pain. In other words, you need this stretch when you have PMS.

Neck stretches

This stretch is especially important if you spend a lot of time looking at a screen or working at a computer. Over time, the muscles in the neck and shoulders become tight and tense, especially if you tend to hold stress in those areas. Sit up straight on a chair or your bed, then place your hand on top of your head and carefully press your ear toward your shoulder. Stop right away if you feel pain or discomfort. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat for 10 reps on both sides.

Standing quad stretch

Ready to get moving? You don't have to have a run planned to stretch out your quads. Stand up and place your right hand on a solid object for balance. Bend your left knee with your heel toward your rear, then grasp your left ankle firmly with your left hand. Feel the delicious stretching sensation as you hold for about 30 seconds with three reps on each side.

Toe touch

Also known as a standing forward bend, this stretch has a spot in your regimen long past middle school gym class. It helps your internal organs work efficiently while reducing feelings of stress and anxiety.

Start this stretch in mountain pose, a yoga position in which you stand up straight with hands at your sides, palms facing out. As you inhale, sweep your hands out and up, then draw them together over your head. Try to keep the length in your spine as you fold your body in half at the hips, hands on your legs or on the floor. Hold the stretch for five deep breaths.

You'll feel alert and energized with these stretches, but that's not their only benefit. Over time, a regular stretching routine can reduce stress and improve mobility and flexibility. Best of all, these stretches put you in the right mindset to make the most of your day.

Exercises and Stretches To Relieve Wrist Strain and Improve Mobility

Your hands and wrist are vital to many essential tasks, such as driving, cooking, eating, and working. For many people, their work requires eight-hour shifts at a desk with their hands continuously pounding away at a keyboard.

The nonstop or relentless typing does strain your wrists and fingers. If you work on a laptop, the strain can worsen because laptop keyboards are smaller and force your wrists and hands into awkward angles.

While there is no quick solution for limiting wrist strain, you have stretch and exercise options to strengthen muscles and improve mobility. Searching online will provide numerous wrist and hand exercises resources, but they all come down to the same five basic movements.

1. Praying Hands

The praying hands exercise or stretch is one of the easiest ways to improve wrist flexibility. You want to stand with your hands touching, palms together. Your elbows Should also touch each other. Your hands should be parallel to your face.

As you press your hands together, slowly separate your elbows. Your palms should remain touching as they move down toward your belly button. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds. Repeat.

You can add another element to the stretch. Extend one arm out from the body at shoulder height, palm down. Allow your hand to go limp. With your other hand, grab the fingers of the limp hand and pull them back. Hold the position for another 30 seconds. Repeat with the other hand.

2. Rising Fists

You can also choose a seated stretch. Lay your forearms and hands on your thighs with palms facing up. Stretch your fingers wide before slowly closing them into a fist. You do not have to clench your fist, only close it. Keep your forearms on your legs, and raise your fists towards your body, bending from the wrists. Hold the position for 10 seconds before lowering your fist back to your legs and opening your hands wide. Repeat the stretch a minimum of 10 times. 

3. Squeezing Tennis Balls

Using a tennis ball or stress ball can help you build hand and wrist strength. However, it does require commitment. You want to squeeze the ball as hard as you can for five to 10 seconds. It would be best if you repeated the hold 10 or more times.

The exercise should not hurt. Stop and talk to your doctor if you feel any pain while performing the squeeze. You could have a wrist injury that needs assessment.

4. Performing Figure-Eights

Yoga is usually seen as a full-body exercise routine, but it also has several movements that focus on specific areas of the body. Figure-eights focus on hand and wrist mobility.

To perform the exercise, you need to interlace your hands and position them in front of the body. Keep your elbows at your sides and move your hands in a figure-eight position — your hands should alternate the top position. Perform the exercise in intervals of 15 seconds.

5. Trying the Desk Press

A desk press is another exercise to help build wrist strength. The movement focuses on the muscles running from your wrists to your elbows.

In a seated position, place your hands under the desktop. Your palms should be face up against the underside of the desk. Press against the bottom of the desk for 10 seconds. Repeat.

Working at a computer all day can result in hand and wrist injuries. If you choose to fit some of the above exercises and stretches into your day, you can reduce the risks of injury.