Saturday, January 7, 2012

Stretching Exercises to Do in the Morning

Morning stretches warm up your muscles and improve your range of motion, according to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Stretching can increase flexibility, improve circulation and contribute to your sense of well-being. Exercising regularly improves your overall health and reduces your risk for unhealthy weight gain and chronic medical conditions. Stretches are best performed in the morning and before you exercise. Modify stretches and exercises to meet your needs and to match your age and fitness level.

Piraformis Stretch
This stretch works your piraformis muscle, which runs from the top of your thighbone to your tailbone. Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent. Place the ankle of your right leg over your left knee. Grab the thigh of your right leg and pull the knee toward your chest. You should feel the stretch in your buttocks. Hold the stretch for three seconds or until you feel your muscle relax a little. Repeat the pull and and hold the stretch for an additional 15 seconds. Switch legs and repeat the stretch on your left leg.

Deep Breathing
Deep breathing relaxes you and helps prepare you for exercise. Sit in a chair and place both hands on your stomach. Inhale deeply and fill your diaphragm with air. Exhale and feel the movement of your stomach. Perform the exercise three to five times to start and progress to eight to 12 repetitions. Breathe normally and evenly during the exercise.

Side Stretch
Begin this stretch by standing with both arms at your sides. Raise your left arm and place your hand behind your head with your elbow pointed straight out and away from your body. Bend at your waist to the right and allow your right arm to remain straight as your hand moves down to your lower leg. Hold the position for about two seconds and release to return to your starting position. Repeat the bend a few times to improve flexibility and then switch sides to perform the bend on your left side.

Seated Knee Raises (Seated Marching)
Begin the seated knee raises, also called seated marching, by sitting in a chair. Lift and lower your right knee. Lift and lower your left knee. Repeat this set five to 10 times, alternating your legs as if you are marching. This warm-up exercise improves your range of motion and your hip stability. It may also improve your endurance, according to the Maine Medical Center.

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