If you prefer snuggling up in a side-lying position, your back and neck will probably thank you. By keeping your spine elongated and your neck in neutral position, this sleeping stance prevents aches and pains. But while your upper regions might be aligned, your lower area could start complaining. Sleeping on your side puts pressure on your hips, which can make them sore and achy the next day. A few simple stretches can help you ease those aches and pains before jumping out of bed.
Give your hips a gentle stretch before you even roll out of bed in the morning. While lying on your back, extend your legs and rest your arms at your side. Bend your left knee and bring it as far as possible toward your chest -- this is hip flexion. Hold for two seconds and then straighten the leg. Repeat 10 times and then switch legs.
Stay put after your hip flexion exercises. With your right leg still extended, bend your left leg and position your left foot against the bed. Let your knee fall to the left with control -- this external rotation opens the inner hip. Don’t fret if your knee won’t fall that far. After a couple weeks of daily stretching, you might be surprised to see just how flexible those tight little hips become.
Now scoot yourself to the end of your bed until your buns are resting at the edge and your legs are hanging over the edge. Bring your right leg to your chest again -- but this time, let your left leg fall further toward the ground. This gentle hip extension stretch opens the front of your hips -- where the muscles tend to tighten and contract into the pelvis.
The Happy Baby yoga pose not only stretches the anterior hips, but also gently massages the lower back and posterior hips. Lie on your back on a cushioned exercise mat. Bend your knees and bring them toward your belly, grabbing onto your feet. If you can’t imagine the pose, just take a peek at a baby finding his toes for the first time. If you can’t quite reach your feet, drape a belt or scarf over your soles and hold onto that instead. Let your knees fall open until they’re slightly wider than your torso. Position your ankles directly over your knees and flex your feet. Rock back and forth gently, massaging your lower back and posterior hips. Enhance the stretch by pushing your feet into your hands, as your hands push down to resist the movement.
Krista Sheehan is a registered nurse and professional writer. She works in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and her previous nursing experience includes geriatrics, pulmonary disorders and home health care. Her professional writing works focus mainly on the subjects of physical health, fitness, nutrition and positive lifestyle changes.