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Get your day started by relieving tension, reducing pain, and improving flexibility. Image: Unsplash

5 Morning Stretches That Will Wake You Up Faster Than Coffee

When sleeping in isn’t an option, most of us probably depend on our daily caffeine fix -- be it a kopi gao or triple-shot espresso – to get through the day. But here’s the thing about caffeinated beverages – as much as they can be an energy booster, the mid-day crash isn’t as enjoyable as the velvety milk foam on a Melbourne-style flat white. Neither are the tension headaches and restlessness that often accompany an overdose.

While we don’t recommend going cold turkey on your fave cuppa, there are alternative methods you can rely on to jumpstart the day. For one, incorporating a couple of simple stretches into your morning routine can make a whole lot of difference. Not only does it feel shiok, stretching helps improve brain activity, decrease the likelihood of body aches and pains, and increases your energy level throughout the day.

Try these five variations that will have you feeling more invigorated than a ten-minute snooze.

1. Neck and shoulder

Benefits: Relieves tension in the affected areas

Stress can cause your neck and shoulder muscles to become rock-hard. To stretch the muscles on the right side of your neck, turn your left ear over to your left shoulder and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side to stretch out your left side. Relax for a moment and then roll your shoulders to the back, and then to the front. Then lift them up to your ears, tensing the muscles, and allow them to drop completely. Repeat this entire sequence three times.

2. Cat-cow on a chair

Benefits: Improves spinal flexibility and abdominal strength

If you spend a lot of time sitting, this one’s for you. Simply sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground and hands gently placed on your knees. Then, alternate between rounding and arching your spine slowly, holding each position for at least five seconds before switching. Repeat this eight to ten times in the morning.

3. Hamstring

Benefits: Reduces lower back pain

What’s there to complain about the hamstring stretch when it can be done in bed? To execute this, lie flat, keep your back straight, hips centred and lift one leg at a time, keeping it straight and perpendicular to your body. Hold it there for at least ten seconds and repeat for the other leg. Tip: If your mattress is on the softer side, try doing this on the floor instead.

4. Standing lumbar flexion

Benefits: Great way to stretch out a stiff back

A long night’s sleep can make your back feel like a plank of wood. Remedy the stiffness by standing next to your bed, bending over and touching your toes while keeping your knees straight. Hold for a count of 10. Repeat 5 more times.

5. Head/neck rolls

Benefits: Improves flexibility and range of motion

Late for work? Here’s a quick fix for that stiff neck – gently roll your head in a circular motion whilst keeping your shoulders in a neutral position. Do this five times in a clockwise direction and another five times in the other direction to improve spinal flexibility and range of motion.

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