Being able to move freely is a blessing. Not only does having mobility and flexibility allow for fluid movement without pain, but it’s also imperative to one’s healthspan. To move without limitation, stretching must be implemented into your health and fitness regimen.
The problem is that no one likes to stretch! It’s uncomfortable, it’s time-consuming, and quite frankly, it’s boring.
While stretching may not provide you with the greek-god aesthetic that we all seem to be chasing, it will allow for a healthy, mobile, and pain-free life. With a shift towards health and longevity, the notion around stretching and its benefits are likely to shift with it.
Where do you start? Great question!
Implementing a stretching routine upon waking can be a great way to kickstart your nervous system. Not only will it alert your body to wake up, but it will increase blood flow and relieve any built-up tension that occurred during the night's rest.
If you want to perform at your best, whether in the gym or in life, stretching every morning will ensure that you do….
With that said, before we dive into the importance of a morning mobility routine and the exercises that go along with it, let’s first discuss the prevalence of joint pain and the importance of combatting it proactively…
Combatting Joint Pain
So, where does joint pain derive from?!
Well, there’s no ONE cause. In fact, there are several; from excessive texting and typing, poor posture, suboptimal sleeping positions, inactivity, excessive exercise without recovery, poor diet, age, and disease.
Whatever the circumstance, joint pain is unpleasant, to say the least. If not attended to in a timely manner, such pain can develop into a more serious condition that comes with its own host of complications.
Are you suffering from joint pain and/or discomfort, unsure of what can be done to relieve it?!
Whether it’s a mild or temporary case of joint discomfort or a severe case of chronic arthritis, there are several ways to combat joint pain in hopes of curing it all together, or at the very least, minimizing its intrusion.
Of course, in the most severe of cases, more medically-intrusive protocols are likely required. In such a case, it’s imperative to follow the trusted advice of your primary care physician.
In less severe cases where the joint pain is still manageable, however, non-invasive natural remedies that can be implemented independently are certainly available. These remedies are largely lifestyle interventions and include things like dietary changes, supplementation, habitual implements, and other alternative holistic therapies.
One such intervention that should be on everyone’s priority list? You guessed it… Creating a morning mobility routine!
The Morning Mobility Routine
When creating a morning mobility routine, the most common mistake or misconception is that it requires strenuous effort, a timely commitment, and elite experience in physical movement and athleticism.
These misconceptions, however, couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, by dedicating a mere 5-15 minutes per morning to a basic but effective mobility routine, not only will physiological pain be reduced or prevented but joint discomfort will likely dissipate, well-being will be boosted, athletic performance will be improved, and longevity will be prioritized.
Again, it matters less WHAT you do and matters more about HOW you do it and how OFTEN you do it… Below is an example of five effective full-body mobility exercises that you can execute each morning so as to combat joint pain and become a healthier, more resilient individual.
1. Extensor & Flexion Stretch (Hand, Finger, & Wrist)
Depending on whether or not your extending or flexing, begin with your arms straight and in full extension in front of you on all fours. Begin bending your wrists toward your chest. Do so with palms facing up and facing down and repeat several times.
2. Arm Swings/Circles (Shoulders, Elbows)
One of the more popular warmups to encourage basic mobility of the shoulder girdle is arm circles. Easily performed, highly effective. Simply Focus on rotating the shoulder in back and forth depending on if you’re swinging forwards or backward…Start with what's referred to as small circles and gradually work toward larger arm circles. Execute 10-15 rotations, both forward and backward.
3. Squat Hold (Ankle, Feet, Toes, & Hips)
Static squat hold is an incredible mobility exercise because it not only works to strengthen the ankles and knees but also the core at large. Not to mention, it’s a fantastic hip opener!
Simply perform an air squat until you’re 90 degrees or lower, and hold the position for at least one minute.
4. The Cat-Cow (Lower Back)
Contrary to the funny name, the cat-cow pose is one of the more popular yoga poses, and for good reason. The name derives from what the position looks like in practice. Beginning on all fours, simply tuck your tailbone inward, and your mid-spine upward. Through inhalation and fluidity of movement, reverse and repeat that movement.
Through this hunch-like flow, the spine will begin to decompress and stretch, releasing any unnecessary pressures that are currently residing there. It’s quite a relief.
5. The Bridge (Hips, Spine)
Again with the ironic names… With this pose, it’s again related to what the position looks like in practice. Beginning by lying on your back, feet flat, arms by your sides, and knees bent, slowly lift your hips off the ground and hold. Following, slowly reverse the position back down to the floor in a rolling motion and repeat.
By going through this flow, you not only engage the spine, but you strengthen the lower-mid back. As mentioned earlier, rehabilitation isn’t only about releasing pain; it’s also about building strength.
6. The Cobra (Shoulders, Chest)
Yet another pose named after an animal, the cobra pose goes a little something like this: Begin face down, toes pointed, stomach pressing on the ground and arms bent and tucked to your sides. By slowly activating your core and lifting your head/chest/shoulders to the sky, you’ll quickly feel the stretch through the abdomen, chest, and shoulders.
The cobra is a great example of how the body is fully interconnected. While you may be feeling back pain, it could be derived from the shoulders or chest. By releasing these pain points, you inherently release the back pain at hand.
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