As we get older, it is common that we may wake up stiff or sore.
Sometimes it may even feel impossible to get out of bed as growing inflexibility in our muscles pulls us back under the covers. However, age does not have to mean growing inflexibility and pain and with a few simple stretches in the morning, these pains will begin to ease with time.
Did you know that when you are asleep, the muscles are in a period of intense relaxation due to decreases in blood flow and the slowing of the heart rate? For those who sleep relatively still, this means that overnight, the muscles will generally tighten up and become stiff due to long periods with lack of movement.
It is common that when one wakes up, they will partake in a brief stretch, usually due to an instinctive desire to get the blood flowing through the body as quickly as possible. In a sense, this is an effective stretch in getting the body feeling good for the day ahead.
However, if this is the only stretch that you partake in throughout the day, you may find that your muscles begin to feel tight and fatigued as the muscles quickly grow tired due to a lack of flexibility and poor stretching culture.
To avoid this growing fatigue in the muscles as we age, here at Bankstown Physiotherapy we recommend developing a stretching routine to promote active muscles and hence an overall growth of strength in the body. This stretching routine should be adopted at a young age to promote healthy muscles throughout one’s lifetime. However, there is no limitation to when one can implement and begin practicing a morning routine of stretching, though we do recommend that those who begin at a later age start with easier, less demanding stretches to ensure that they do not further damage their muscles.
From this, stretching in the morning, regardless of age, can have many benefits for all people. These include;
Increased strength in the lower back Particularly for those working long, seated hours, the lower back can become compressed and stiff over time and can hence lead to back pain. Needless to say, this is also common in workers in manual labour roles or active roles if lifting techniques are incorrect or periods of rest are not managed effectively. By developing a routine of stretches in the morning, pains that may be experienced in the lower back can be effectively managed as the muscles will become more active for those who remain seated for a long time and muscles will be warmed up and stretched before long periods of movement for those in high-intensity roles.
Types of lower back stretches:
Knee to chest stretch Lie on your back with both legs extended, draw your right knee into your chest using your arms to support the knee by holding them just above the shinbone. Repeat this action for one minute then repeat with the other leg. Pelvic Tilt Lie on your back with both knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, engage your abdominal muscles as you flatten your back against the floor. Hold this position for approximately 10 seconds. Repeat these three to five times.
Stress Relief Waking up by focusing on your stretching can allow you to begin the day through a period of relaxation. This can assist your mind by distracting you from psychological issues that may be causing stress or tension. By doing so, reduced stress can relieve tension that may be tightening the muscles and causing pain throughout the body. Types of stretches to relieve stress; Upward Stretch Sitting in a crossed leg position, lace your fingers together and raise your arms towards the ceiling/sky. Gently tilt your head back to look at your hands, elongating the spine and stretching the ribcage. Hamstring Stretch Lie on your back with both your legs straight. Keeping your hips centered and flat, lift one leg up towards the ceiling, keeping it straight while you do so. While your leg is in the air, circle your ankles a few times in each direction.
Increased Mobility Each activity that we partake in through our daily routines requires mobility to do so. Whether this is getting out of the car or trying to reach something from the top shelf of the grocery store, the better our mobility, the easier these activities will be to perform. Without the flexibility that a stretching routine will be able to provide, these activities may be painful to perform and could put your body at risk of damage. Types of stretches to increase mobility; Standing toe touches Standing with a straight posture, slowly bend at the waist and slowly reach your fingertips towards the feet. This can stretch all vital areas of the body, including the back, legs, and shoulders and can hence build the strength required to be more mobile throughout the day. Standing Quadriceps Stretch Standing with a straight posture, slowly bend one leg, bringing it towards the glutes. Hold this position for approximately one minute, using a flat surface to support balance where needed.
For more information, contact us at 9793 3119 or visit our website at https://www.bankstownphysiotherapy.com.au/