A fitness trainer shares the 7 stretches she does every morning to keep her body ‘young and healthy’

My morning stretches to improve mobility

As a physical trainer, I am constantly focused on improving my mobility; keeps my body young and healthy.

I recommend doing mobility stretches in the morning, when your body feels the stiffest from sleeping. These are the stretches I do every day:

1. Fashion cars

This exercise challenges your range of motion for almost a full 360 degrees, training your full-range hip mobility. Hip CARs “wake up” your glutes, hamstrings, core, and abductors.

Start with your hands and knees on the floor.

Photo: Health Day

Hip CARs “wake up” your glutes, hamstrings, core, and abductors.

Photo: Health Day

How to do it:

  1. Start with your hands and knees on the floor.
  2. While keeping your spine neutral and without shifting your weight, lift one leg out to the side and bend it behind you.
  3. Return your leg to the ground, then reverse the movement.
  4. Repeat six to eight times in each direction, on each leg.

2. 90/90 hip stretch

We are often in a neutral hip position (i.e. when sitting or walking), so these rotations can improve hip mobility and reduce lower back pain by strengthening the muscles that support the back.

Life often puts you in a “neutral” hip, so rotating your hip can reduce low back pain and improve hip mobility.

Photo: Health Day

How to do it:

  1. Sit with your legs in a 90/90 position. One knee should be to the side, bent at a 90-degree angle, with the sole of the foot facing backwards. Bring your other knee in front of you, bent at a 90-degree angle, with the bottom of your foot facing to the side.
  2. If this position alone is enough for you, stay in it for 30 to 60 seconds on each side.
  3. If you want to add extra movement, try leaning forward (lead with your chest and don’t round your back). You will feel an intensified stretch on the outside of your hips on your front leg. Hold the position for three seconds, then sit back down.
  4. Repeat 10 times on each side.
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3. Active adductor stretching

Your adductors (inner thighs) tend to be tight. These tight muscles can decrease your hip’s range of motion and cause knee pain. This stretch focuses on adductor mobility.

Your adductors (inner thighs) tend to be tight, which can cause knee pain. This stretch focuses on actively stretching the adductors.

Photo: Health Day

How to do it:

  1. Start on your hands and knees, but with your knees slightly wider than your hips.
  2. Extend and stretch one leg out to the side.
  3. Slowly move your body back and forth.
  4. Repeat 10 times on each side.

4. Cat and cow pose

This movement helps improve spinal health by strengthening and stretching the muscles that support and control the spine.

Start on your hands and knees. Push your body off the floor and round your back.

Photo: Health Day

Arch your back and look up at the ceiling. She repeat 10 times in each direction.

Photo: Health Day

How to do it:

  1. Start on your hands and knees.
  2. Push your body off the floor and round your back. Your head will end up in your arms.
  3. Arch your back and look up at the ceiling.
  4. Repeat 10 times in each direction.

5. 6T spinal twists

I have seen many people pinch their backs by twisting and reaching slightly to pick something up. Improving mobility and training your body in this twisting motion can teach you how to move safely.

Sit in a chair. Then reach down and grab the inside of your right ankle with your right arm.

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Photo: Health Day

Improving mobility and training your body in this twisting motion can teach you how to move safely.

Photo: Health Day

How to do it:

  1. Sit in a chair.
  2. Grab the inside of your right ankle with your right arm.
  3. Start with your left hand next to your right, then keep your arm straight and slowly rotate until your left arm reaches the ceiling.
  4. Repeat 10 times on each side.

6. Shoulder cars

Like a ball and socket joint, the shoulders can move in many different directions. These shoulder circles challenge and improve your range of motion, reducing the chances of shoulder and neck pain.

First, stick one arm out in front of you.

Photo: Health Day

Raise that arm as high as you can.

Photo: Health Day

Shoulder CARs reduce the chance of shoulder and neck pain by challenging your range of motion.

Photo: Health Day

How to do it:

  1. Bring one arm out in front of you, thumb up, and extend it as high as you can.
  2. Continue the circle by reaching your hand back without twisting your torso.
  3. Rotate your hand so that your palm faces out and your thumb continues toward the ceiling. This should be a slow move as you continually move against your final range.
  4. Make six to eight circles on each arm.

7. Circles on the neck

The neck and shoulders are where many people hold stress and tension in the body, so relaxing these muscles can relieve general tension and can even help reduce headaches.

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Neck circles stretch and relax the neck, improving mobility and relieving tension.

Photo: Health Day

Please note that these exercises are not for everyone. If you have a physical condition or health problems, check with your doctor first.

Photo: Health Day

How to do it:

  1. Clasp your hands behind your back to help “pull” your shoulders back.
  2. Start with your chin toward your chest, then slowly turn your head so your right ear is toward your right shoulder.
  3. Slowly look up at the ceiling and continue the circle so your left ear falls toward your left shoulder, then return your chin to your chest.
  4. Reverse direction.
  5. If any position in this circle feels too tight, pause and allow the stretch to occur for about 30 seconds before continuing.
  6. Make three to four circles in each direction.

Please note that these exercises are not for everyone. If you have a physical condition or health problem, check with your doctor before trying any of the stretches.

stephanie mellinger She is a certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist, and nutritionist. She is also the founder of the fitness company. fit omnia and a writer for HealthDay. Follow her on Instagram @omnia_fit_.

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