Ease achy bones first thing in the morning with these gentle stretches.
Staying active during the winter months can be a challenge. While staying warm and cozy inside is nice, it’s extremely important to continue exercising during the cold winter months. Not only will it help you stay in shape, but it will keep stiffness and joint pain at bay.
Whether you’re planning to do a full workout in the morning or not, adding in a dynamic warm up to your morning routine can help your body and mind to stay alert during sleepy winter months, while preventing muscle and joint stiffness.
A dynamic warm-up combines stretches with movement. These movement-based stretches activate your muscles, decrease the stiffness of muscles and joints, improve range of motion, and improve circulation.
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Use these at-home dynamic stretches to warm you up on chilly winter mornings. All you need is a foam roller and a mat.
8 Dynamic Stretches for Chilly Mornings
Upper Back Foam Rollout | 5 reps
Getting out of bed on a cold morning can make your back stiff and achy. This foam rolling exercise massages the upper back muscles and opens up the chest.
- Sit on your mat with a foam roller behind you, running horizontally.
- Lower yourself onto the foam roller so that it rests at your mid-back. Rest your hands behind your head and gently lean your head back into your palms.
- Lift your hips up and slowly roll the foam roller up towards your shoulders, stopping for 20 seconds wherever it feels tight.
- Once the foam roller is up past the bottom of your shoulder blades, pause for a chest stretch.
- Then, roll back down towards your mid-back. Repeat that five times.
Arm Circles | 12 reps
Warm up the shoulders and chest with this dynamic stretch that increases circulation.
- Begin standing with your arms down by your sides and your palms facing forward.
- Inhale to circle your arms forward and up, then exhale to circle them back and down.
- Repeat 12 times.
Butt Kicks | 20 reps
This dynamic exercise warms up the hips, thighs, and shoulders.
- Stand with your feet wider than hip-width distance with your arms down alongside your body.
- Shift your weight onto your left foot and kick your right heel up to your butt. At the same time, cross your right arm over your left in front of your body.
- Then, step your right foot back down and switch sides, kicking your left heel to your butt and crossing your left arm over your right.
- Repeat for 20 reps.
Walking Lunges | 12 reps
Open tight hips flexors and activate the core with this exercise.
- Stand with your feet together and your hands on your hips. Engage your abs.
- Inhale to step your right foot forward. Bend both knees at 90 degrees to come into a lunge. Keep your right knee stacked over your ankle. You should feel a stretch through your left hip.
- Exhale to step your left foot up to meet your right.
- Inhale to step your left foot forward into a lunge, then exhale to bring your feet to standing.
- Continue alternating legs for 12 reps.
Down Dog | 8 breaths
This stretch decreases stiffness in the hamstrings, calves, hips, and back. It also reverses blood flow, increasing circulation and waking you up!
- Begin in a high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists. Spread your fingers wide and engage your abs.
- Take an inhale, then exhale to lift your hips high, bringing your body into an upside down V-shape.
- If your back feels like it is rounding, bend your knees enough to straighten your spine. Lift up through your hips and feel a stretch through the sides of your body and the back of your legs.
- Hold for 8 breaths.
Shoulder Wings | 10 reps per side
This dynamic exercise increases mobility in the shoulders and awakens tight chest and back muscles.
- Start standing with your feet hip-width distance apart. Engage your abs.
- Bend your elbows and place your fingertips on your shoulders. Bring your elbows together in front of your chest to feel your upper back and shoulders expand.
- Now take circles with your “wings”. Circle your elbows up in front of you, then back to squeeze your shoulder blades together, and then down and around to come back to the starting position.
- Repeat for 10 reps, then circle the other way for 10 reps.
Side Leg Raises | 12 reps per side
This warming exercise awakens the hips, thighs, and core.
- Lie on your right side with your knees slightly bent and your legs stacked. Prop your head up with your hand. Place your left palm down on the floor in front of you.
- Exhale to lift your right leg straight up towards the sky, then inhale to lower the right leg back down.
- Repeat for 12 reps, then switch sides.
Hand Walk | 10 reps
This dynamic exercise strengthens the shoulders and core while releasing tight hamstrings and hips.
- Starting standing with your feet hip-width distance apart and a slight bend in your knees.
- Fold forward with a flat back. Bend your knees as much as you need to in order to bring your hands to the floor.
- Slowly walk your hands towards the top of your mat to come into a high plank position. Pause for a full breath in and a full breath out.
- Then, walk your hands back to your feet to come back to a forward fold.
- Inhale to slowly roll back up to standing one vertebra at a time.
- Repeat for 10 reps.
(Your Next Workout: 10 Morning Stretches You Can Do in Bed)