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3 morning stretches that release tension and boost energy

Jumping right out of bed and into the chaos of your life can be jarring. Ease into the day with these simple movements.
Animated illustration of woman doing side stretches
A short stretch routine in the morning helps wake up your body, improve circulation and boost energy.TODAY Illustration / Getty Images / Stephanie Mansour

Your alarm goes off and after a few swats at the snooze button, it’s time to start the day. But do you get out of bed feeling stiff, tired and even a little sluggish?

Instead of reaching for your phone right when you wake up, try developing a morning stretch routine that’ll gradually prepare you to get up and going. Even if you had a rough night of tossing and turning, taking these few minutes can make a world of a difference for your physical and mental health.

Stretching improves circulation, flexibility and range of motion and reduces stress. By stretching first thing in the morning, you’re waking up your body, boosting your energy, and easing yourself into the day. So give yourself a few minutes to transition from sleep mode to work mode with these three calming exercises — your body will thank you!

Knees to chest

Relax, take a deep breath and gradually draw your knees into your chest. Once your knees are close to your chest, put your arms around them and pull your knees in closer. As you gently pull your legs closer to your body, be mindful of the way your hips and lower back feel. You should feel a gentle stretch in these areas. Knees to chest also helps relieve tension in the spine, so your body should feel loser and less tense as a result.

For a longer stretch, try pulling each knee to your chest individually, holding the position for about 20 seconds on each side. Make sure to take deep breaths throughout the stretch, as breathing helps your body relax.

Spinal twist

Waking up with back pain is one the worst That’s why I’ve incorporated a stretch that’ll increase range of motion in your spine. Doing a spinal twist every morning can ensure that you’re keeping your back loose and flexible.

This stretch flows smoothly from knees to chest. Keep your knees pulled in towards your chest, but release your arms and rest them out to your sides. With your knees bent and your shoulders resting on the mattress, allow the knees to drop to one side. Slowly turn your head towards the opposite side of your knees.

You should feel a gentle stretch in your low and middle back during this stretch. Like every stretch, don’t forget to breath and move slowly. Hold on one side for 10 seconds, the gently transition your body to the other side, swapping your knees and neck position.

Side lean

As you get closer to getting out of bed, this stretch will help you transition from lying down to sitting up. Stretching your sides helps combat the morning stiffness that sets in after inactivity. Slowly sit up and cross your legs. Reach your right arm above your head and press your left hand down gently on the mattress next to you. Bending from the waist, lean your torso towards the left side of the room, keeping your right arm aligned with your ear, so that it also points towards the left side of the room. Breath in deeply, and hold for ten seconds before switching to the other side.