I’ve been sleeping in some strange beds this summer and paying the price. It’s not what you think. Traveling around and staying with friends or in hotels can mess up your body. How? Maybe you’re sleeping in a twin bed when you’re used to spreading out in a queen. Or perhaps you are stuck with a lousy mattress for a couple of days. Not to mention the common state of vacation over-indulging, where you do or consume a little too much and don’t sleep quite right. Any of this can contribute to crunchy shoulders and a stiff neck. And that is not a good recipe for vacation enjoyment.
Waking up in the morning in the country or at the beach should be a pleasure, not render you a Granny. So breathe in the fresh air and do these quick stretches when you rise in the morning and you’ll feel relaxed and ready for a day of croquet on the lawn, kayaking in the pond, or lounging on the beach.
1. Standing with feet about hip distance apart, place your hands on your hips. Your elbows should be bent and pointed back behind you. Contracting your abdominal muscles, pull them in and lift (from the inside), stretching your torso up to the sky. Your chest will be pushing up as well, as your chin lifts. Make sure your chin rises but not so high that your heads hangs back. Just lift as though you are looking for a spider on the ceiling (see photo).
As you lift your torso, your elbows reach back behind you, and pull together behind your back as though they want to touch. (Of course they will not, but you want to get the sensation that they want to go in that direction). Your chest will open as your shoulders reach back. Hold this position, lengthening your torso and stretching your abdominal muscles up for 10 counts. Release. Repeat 3 times.
2. Standing or sitting upright, place your fingertips on your shoulders. Make big circles with your elbows around one-way 5 times. Then reverse the circles 5-8 times. Simple – yes. Effective – super yes.
These seem so basic, I know, but trust me they make a difference. If you do them every day when you start to feel tension, or if you are traveling and sitting on a plane or in a car for a while, this will help.
Also – take a walk, move your body, swing your arms around, sway your hips from side to side. Move with abandon. You’ll get a lot more out of it. You might feel silly but this really loosens you up and wakes your body. (Note: this may most effectively done alone in the woods or a place where no one can see you. You know, it you’re shy).