We all lead particular lives with varied schedules, and each person you see has a completely distinctive body story or body history. The way I move in the morning and throughout the day differs greatly from the way my husband moves in the morning and throughout his day. We are both vastly different to how our children move in the morning and throughout their day. We all have jobs and responsibilities with varying degrees of sitting, standing and walking. Some of us have previous injuries that affect how we move throughout our day. And although we all live under the same home and share genetic traits, each of our body’s stories is quite different.
Moving our body in the morning allows for blood flow and mood stabilizing. It allows our resting muscles to wake up and primes our brain to function. However, the specific type of movement your body needs can only be determined by you.
Begin by analyzing your daily movement.
What do you do for most of your day? What is your normal routine? What repetitive movements can you identify? Taking account of your current daily activity or inactivity determines your course of morning movement.
Some folks find the morning as the best time to exercise. Although exercise should be a part of your daily routine, let the first morning movements be gentle. Make sure you allow your muscles to wake up with a mixture of static and dynamic stretches before vigorous exercise. Morning movements can take as little as three minutes.
Starting the day with gentle movement or a warm-up routine gets the body primed for the rest of the day’s activities. To be clear, morning movement is not what is considered traditional exercise. Morning movement should consist of gentle movements that allow the body to awaken and open. By incorporating gentle morning movement, you tell the central nervous system (CNS) that you need your muscles to allow for more range of motion for your everyday activities.
The CNS is in charge of your “flexibility.” The CNS determines your ability to stretch at any range based on your CNS tolerance to that range. A patient under general anesthesia can be manipulated to have full range of motion and then some! However, our bodies are not made of taffy that can be pulled and pulled until we reach the desired length. Our CNS is working to protect the body. The CNS needs to be trained to allow for more tolerance in range of motion. This can only be done if you and your body feel safe. Your mind may say you are safe, but your CNS is working to protect itself. Furthermore, our muscles respond to a “use it or lose it” system. If we aren’t telling our bodies in a safe way that we need to be able to reach, we begin to lose the ability to reach.
Recent evidence suggests that when static stretching is included in a full warm-up routine, short-duration static stretching, or stretching for less than 60 seconds per muscle group, may contribute to lower the risk of sustaining musculotendinous injuries, especially with high-intensity activities (e.g., sprint running and change of direction speed). Your morning movement should be dependent upon what the rest of your day will look like.
For example, if you are sitting most of the day, incorporating something to open the hip flexors will create space in the hip area. Sitting and running shorten the hip flexors and that can lead to back pain. Creating space in the hip space can begin to alleviate tension that has built up over time. Perhaps you wear heels for eight hours a day. Lifting the heel shortens the achilles and activates the calf muscles. Showing your lower legs some lengthening stretches is almost like a mini reset each morning.
Taking stock of your daily movements is the best way to create a quick three-minute morning movement routine. Let this be a morning gift to your amazing body.