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Whether you're just rolling over in bed or rolling out of bed, you may often find yourself luxuriating in a satisfying full-body stretch after waking up in the morning. In some cases, this action may even be involuntary. Beyond just feeling good, stretching upon waking has an important biological function that helps your body work properly.
Stretching helps increase blood flow to the muscles, which is especially beneficial in the morning. After you've slept in one position for several hours during the night, the blood in your body may settle somewhat. A good morning stretch helps to get the blood pumping throughout your body again, so you start feeling revitalized and refreshed, which allows you to awaken faster.
When you wake in the morning after sleeping all night, you may experience some joint stiffness and pain as you try to get out of bed or go downstairs. Indulging in a good stretch can help alleviate some of that stiffness and may even warm up your muscles and joints enough to prevent the risk of injury to stiff knees, ankles, hips or back. When you wake up, stretch your arms and legs while you are still lying in bed. Do this for several minutes if you wish. Once you feel more limber, gently get out of bed and begin your day.
To prevent excessive stiffness and muscle soreness when you wake in the morning, consider incorporating stretches into your daily routine. Keep your muscles and joints healthy with at least 30 minutes per day of a moderate exercise like walking. Take up yoga, or perform some basic daily stretches like bending forward to touch your feet, reaching up to the sky on your toes, and bringing your knees into your chest from a seated or lying down position. Regular stretching keeps your muscles and joint limber and strong.
Whether you are stretching in the morning, practicing yoga or stretching before a physical activity, be gentle in your stretching. Stretching your body too aggressively can put you at risk for strained muscles or ligaments. For purposeful stretching such as yoga, it can help to warm up your muscles first with a light walk or even a warm shower.