Last post, I talked about how a daily self care routine can greatly reduce muscle tension and dysfunction. I’m going to give you a sample of what I do every morning, that I associate with brushing my teeth.
When I first wake up, I start by lifting and pointing my toes. This warms up my calves and shins, increasing circulation while the sleepy fog still lingers. After I do about 10 sets of pointing and lifting my toes, I move up to circling my ankles both clockwise and counter-clockwise, five circles in each direction. This continues the circulation up the legs and helps with lymphatic drainage. Next I rock my legs from side to side, and bend my knees, bouncing my upper legs on the mattress. Twenty reps of side to side rocking or shaking, twenty reps up and down.
Next, I stretch my back. Laying face up, I start by bending my knees, putting my feet flat against the bed, spread apart about a foot wider than shoulder width. Then I bring one knee toward the center line of my body, keeping the foot planted on the bed. Next, I place my opposite ankle on the knee I am bringing toward center, and let the weight of my leg bring the knee towards the bed. The next, most important part, is I take three breaths. At each exhale, I let me knee drop closer and closer to the mattress. It has taken a long time, but now I am able to get my knee and foot touching the bed at the same time. Make sure that when you are bringing your knee to the bed, try and keep your lower back as flat against the bed as possible. I hold the stretch for ten seconds, then do the same stretch with my other leg.
Once I finish this stretch, with my back still on the bed, I kick my leg across the center line of my body and let my foot and knee hang off the side of the bed. It’s important to keep the upper-back flat against the bed, forcing the torso and vertebrae to twist. Again, the most important part: I take three deep breaths and allow my foot to drop even lower on the exhale. After the last exhale, I hold the position for ten seconds.
If my neck feels stiff in the morning (which usually happens if I sleep on my stomach or side at all during the night), I will focus on stretching my neck and upper back as well. To do this, I take one hand and put it over my head and grab onto my opposite ear. Then I take my other hand and grab my ankle on the same side by bending a knee. Using the hand on my ear, I pull my head away from my ankle (IE, take your right hand and put it on top of your head and then slide it over and grab your left ear, then take your left hand, bend your left knee, and grab your left ankle. Then, pull your head to the right.). Three deep breaths to allow the muscles to relax further each exhalation.
Finally, I interlace my fingers behind my head, pulling forward, and tucking my chin into my chest, stretching the back of my neck, and upper back. Again, three deep breaths, stretching further and holding with each exhale.
Next post I’ll continue with more morning self care routine tips that are easy to do in the shower.