Stretching in the morning before beginning your day can help you get off to a good start. Stretching and exercising can help you boost your metabolism and work out any kinks from the previous night's sleep. Varying your routine periodically will keep things interesting. Taking time before you even get out of bed can help you feel better right away. Always stretch comfortably. Any stretch that causes pain should be avoided. Also, avoid bouncing or excessive movements while stretching, and do each stretch slowly and with control.
Stretching your muscles cold and after a night of sleep can potentially lead to an injury. Take a few minutes to warm up your muscles before stretching. Simply walking around your house or yard, doing a few jumping jacks, pedaling on a stationary bike or walking up and down the stairs a few times can get your blood flowing enough to make your stretching routine effective.
Stand up straight and keep your head up. Gently tilt your head toward your left shoulder. Make sure you are tilting directly to the side and not leaning forward or back. Hold for several seconds. Bring your head back to the starting position and then repeat toward the right side. Hold again. Return to start and then gently let your head hang in front of you until you feel mild tension on the back of your neck. Hold for several seconds and then raise your head to the start position. Relax for 15 seconds before repeating.
Sitting on a bench or chair or standing upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, raise your arms over your head and clasp your hands together. Keep your back straight and reach over to your left side as far as you can comfortably go. Hold the position for five seconds. Return to your start position and then reach to your right side as far as you can go. Repeat five times on each side.
Get on your hands and knees and look at the floor. Push your back up in a rounded position and look at your belly button while your back arches up. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds depending on your comfort level. Reverse the pose by arching your back toward the floor, with your belly button pushing toward the floor and you looking up at the ceiling. Hold again for 10 to 30 seconds and return to a flat back position when done. Repeat this stretch four or five times.
Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and your arms held up above your head. Gently bend at the waist and lower yourself until you are touching, or close to touching, your toes. Hold the position for 10 seconds.
Holding onto a wall or a high-backed chair, reach behind you with your left arm and grasp your left ankle. Gently pull your foot toward your rear until you feel your quad being stretched. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with your right side. Repeat the stretches four or five times overall.
Michelle Hogan is a writer and the author of 13 books including the 2005 bestselling memoir, "Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America." Hogan studied English at American University and has been writing professionally since 1998. Her work has appeared in "The New York Times," "Redbook," "Family Circle" and many other publications.