Your daily wake up routine – stretching

Physiotherapist at Bupa UK
27 January 2016
Woman waking up and stretching

Stretching can keep your joints flexible, improve your posture and keep your blood flowing. Yet many people don’t think about doing stretching exercises every day. Try this simple workout when you wake up to ease away your tension.

The exercises you choose should target your main muscle groups – your arms, neck, back, hips and legs.

Hold each stretch for 15 to 20 seconds. Repeat each stretch two to three times, especially if your muscles and joints feel tight.

Stretches in bed

  • Full body stretch
  • Lie completely flat, with your head supported by a pillow. Stretch out your arms above your head, lacing your fingers together, and keep your legs straight. Feel the stretch from your fingers to your toes. Then relax.

  • Knees-to-chest
  • Lie on your back. Bring your knees to your chest and hold them in position with your arms or hands to feel the stretch in your lower back. You can also do this stretch by bending one knee at a time.

  • Hamstring stretch
  • Lie on your back on your bed. Bring your right leg towards your chest and use your hands to support your thigh. Aim to straighten your right leg towards the ceiling. Hold this stretch so you feel a pleasant pull at the back of your knee and thigh. Your back and sit bones should be flat on the bed, so you feel the stretch in just your leg. Then repeat with your left leg.

  • Knee rolls
  • On your bed, lie on your back and slowly roll your knees to one side, keeping them together. Make sure both of your shoulders stay in contact with the bed at all times. Feel the stretch on sides of your upper body and your lower back. Repeat on the opposite side. 

Sitting exercises

  • Upper back stretch
  • Sit on the edge of your bed, with your feet flat on the floor. Interlock your fingers and reach forward, bending from your middle back. Stretch with your hands forward at shoulder level. You should feel the stretch between your shoulder blades.

  • Seated hamstring stretch
  • Sit on the edge of your bed, with one leg straight and one leg bent. Keeping your back straight, lean forward from your hips. Feel for the stretch at the back of your straight leg. Repeat on the other side.

  • Chest stretch
  • Interlock your fingers behind your back and stretch your arms behind you, lifting them off your back, keeping your shoulder relaxed. Push your chest forward and feel the stretch in your shoulders and chest.

Standing exercises

  • Standing quad stretch
  • Stand up straight, holding onto the wall or a chair if you need to. Keep your feet hip-width apart. Reach back and grab your left foot with your left hand. Keep your thighs lined up next to each other and your left leg in line with your hip. Feel the stretch in your left thigh and hips. Repeat with your right leg.

  • Squats
  • Stand just in front of your bed with your feet hip-distance apart. Bend your knees and lower your hips, without feeling any discomfort. Try to get your thighs as parallel to the floor as possible. Don’t let your knees lean over your toes. As soon as you feel yourself touch the bed, slowly come back up. Push through your heels and squeeze your sit bones to activate your bottom muscles (gluts). Feel the energy in your hips.

  • Keep safe
  • Listen to your own body. If it feels like standing and stretching sideways, then do so. But only take yourself to a comfortable stretch without any pain. If you notice any sharp or shooting pain, ease off completely.

    If you already have an injury like a disc problem, you shouldn’t do certain stretches. Always ask your physiotherapist or doctor for advice.




    Do you know how healthy you truly are? Bupa health assessments give you a clear overview of your health. You’ll receive a personalised lifestyle action plan with health goals to reach for a healthier, happier you.

Lucie Roux
Physiotherapist at Bupa UK

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