Your alarm goes off in the morning and what do you do? Hit the snooze and rollover, hoping to score a few more precious minutes of sleep? Drag your ass to the shower and let the water attempt to bring you to consciousness? Or maybe a few quick body-loosening stretches? No ... we doubt anyone's doing that first thing. But you should be.
According to Dan Oberneder, a physical therapist with tours of duty on the PGA and Champions Tours, a lot of men wake up with stiff or sore muscles, depending on their amount of activity (or inactivity) from the previous day. "Stretching increases the circulation of blood and oxygen to the muscles, releases tension and improves flexibility," says Oberneder, "which definitely sets the stage for a successful physical day."
Not only will a few quick stretches wake up your body and relieve stiffness, the tension-free muscles can lead to reduced mental stress. Which comes in handy whether you're headed to the gym or stuck in rush-hour traffic on the way to the office. This set of three simple moves will stretch your upper back and open up your hips and shoulders—areas that get tight if you spend a lot of time sitting.
Wall Pec Stretch
Stand facing a wall and raise one arm to shoulder height, straight out and perpendicular to body, forearm against wall. Rotate your torso away from wall until you feel a stretch in your chest. Hold this for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite arm.
Hip Flexor Lunge
Start by kneeling on the floor. Bring your right foot forward by bending the right knee so that your body stays in a lunge position. Rest your hands on your right knee and push your hip forward so that you feel a stretch in your back. Stay in that position for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Crab Bridge Stretch
Assume the crab position—plant your palms on the floor just behind your shoulders, fingers away from your body. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Then bring your right arm up diagonally across your chest and extend your arm over your left shoulder. Return to the starting position and repeat with the left arm. Do this five times with each arm.