When we sleep, our muscles lose tone and fluid tends to pool along our back. Stretching helps to massage this fluid gently back into place. Our muscles protect themselves from over-extension by inhibiting the nerve impulses as they approach their limit making it easier for us to know how far we can stretch.
Over time, if we do not stretch regularly this safety mechanism becomes increasingly restrictive. Stretching briefly takes your muscles outside their normal range. This recalibrates the feedback mechanisms that determine their normal amount of motion.
Let’s explore some good reasons to slowly add some stretching to our routine.
Both before and after rest, stretching can easily become a habit that can physically and mentally help you feel your best.
And you don’t even have to get out of bed to achieve it!
Benefits of Bedtime Stretching
1. Improving movement range
The human body has a range of motion that should be explored and used to its fullest. Stretching the body in its most relaxed state, before and after sleep, allows us to work the muscles and tissues the easiest.
2. Improve your quality of sleep
Developing a comfortable stretch routine before going to sleep promotes uninterrupted sleep during the night, which results in increased energy the following day.
Stretches that target key areas where we hold tension, such as the shoulders, neck, hands, and chest, are most beneficial in preparing the body for deep relaxation. Also, since the leg and back muscles tend to become excessively tense during the day they too would benefit from a good stretch.
3. Help prevent injury
Before and after rest stretches not only help with flexibility, but also ensures the average person is moving within their normal range of motion, such as touching your toes. When we are not able to perform activities within the normal range of motion, we can injure ourselves. Increased flexibility allows for a greater chance of preventing injury by the simple nature of greater movement.
4. Help you get to know your body
Before and after bedtime are both perfect times to reconnect with our body.
Body awareness is important as we usually perform the same movements over and over, everyday, with little deviation. Our body becomes accustomed to limited mobility. Bedtime stretches create focus on the forgotten areas. Doing this regularly before and after rest will become second nature. Besides reaping the benefits of bed stretching itself, we also stand to gain a much healthier relationship with our bodies. We cultivate a healthy mind – body connection to aide on our wonderful and sometimes challenging journey these amazing vessels of ours will carry us through.
Here are some suggestions for a morning stretching routine:
Full body stretch – Lying on your back, reach your arms up over your head, arch your back as it lifts away from the bed, lengthen your legs and take 2-3 nice, long, deep breaths in… and out. This stretch is used to wake up your body, lengthen your spine, and lets your body know you are getting ready to move.
Figure-Four Stretch- lie down with your head and shoulders slightly elevated. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on your sheets. Rest your left ankle below your right knee and hold your right shin with both hands. Hold for 5 deep breaths and repeat on the other side to loosen up tight hips, thighs, and glutes.
Knees to Chest – Lying on your back, draw your knees up toward your chest, wrap your arms around the top of your knees and give them a hug, relax your neck and shoulders. Slowly and gently, rock from side to side. Press your lower back into the mattress and take 5 slow, deep breaths, in… and out. This stretch is great for releasing tightness in the lower back.
Spinal Twist – Lying on your back with extended legs, draw your right knee up toward the chest and hug it in. Use your left hand to help guide your bent right leg across the left side of the body and let the knee relax down. Open the right arm and turn your head to the right, and take 5 slow, deep breaths in… and out. Repeat for the left side. These stretches feel amazing to the hips, lower back, and chest even!
Hamstring Stretch – Lying on your back with legs extended, draw your right knee up toward the chest. Wrap both hands around the back of the leg (either above or below the knee) and extend the right foot up toward the ceiling. Pull the leg closer to the chest, and begin to rotate the ankle around in big, slow circles. Taking 5 long, slow, deep breaths. ease deeper into the stretch. Repeat for the left side. These stretches are important to help loosen up your lower back, hamstrings, hips, knees, and ankles.
Neck Stretch – Follow this sequence in a slow, smooth fashion to avoid any injury. First, sit up tall with your legs draped over the side of your bed, and sit on your hands. Then, tuck your chin to your chest and slowly look down, extending one cervical vertebrae at a time. Slowly lift the head back up. Next, lift the chin as you look up to the ceiling, but do NOT let your head fall all the way back. Second, turn your head and look toward the right, aiming to peer behind the right shoulder. Take 5 deep breaths here, and slowly repeat to the left side. These neck stretches will help to relieve the pain from sleeping on pillows either too big or too small. and will start to improve your range of motion in the cervical spine.
Do these stretches to best of your ability, if you feel any sharp pain you may have gone too far. Let your breathing be your guide, and take it slow!
Should you wish to learn more about these or other health promoting techniques we invite you to book a Health Consultation with The Health Coach academy team or to join our Health Coaching Program.Should you wish to learn more about these or other health promoting techniques we invite you to book a Health Consultation with The Health Coach academy team or to join our Health Coaching Program.
Results may individually vary. Information and statements made in articles of The Health Coach academy Blog are for education purposes only and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. The Health Coach academy does not provide medical advice, prescribe medication and treatment plans, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by The Health Coach academy are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. Should you have a medical condition or health concern, consult your physician.