Eastbourne Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic 38 Lushington Road, Eastbourne. BN21 4LL.
01323 439738

Paul's tips for the morning

Getting up in the morning is a very important thing to do well. I'm not just talking about physically getting out of bed but more generally - getting up, about, and moving properly.

Numerous things happen overnight which help to worsen our posture, increase our muscular stiffness and thereby generally reduce our health and fitness over time. By doing the right things in the morning we can hope to significantly counter-act these in the long-term and set ourselves up for a better day. It doesn't need to take long. In fact all it really needs is awareness.

When we sleep we often assume a certain degree of curled-in position. Even if just lying on your side you probably rest the head on the pillow in a 'poked forward' position and probably end up with the shoulders somewhat rounded or the lower one pushed right up to the neck. Not only do certain muscles shorten over time, but the brain is also adapting to this position being normal. 

My first tip for the morning is to be aware of undo-ing the "posture training" that happens overnight. There are a few ways you can do this provided it is all comfortable. 

  1. You can spend a few minutes lying completely flat before getting up - try getting rid of the pillow and position the head such that the back of the neck is slightly lengthened (ie that you are positioned with the chin slightly tucked down). Have the legs straight with feet pointing up, not outwards, and arms by your sides with the palms facing up. Reach down towards your feet briefly to position the shoulders downwards.Keep this passive position for a couple of minutes.
  2. Once up, stand with your back to the wall. Slide the back of the head as high up the wall as you can while keeping the shoulders relaxed. Pull the core slightly in. Hold for a few seconds while breathing relaxed. When you step away from the wall keep a feeling of tallness there but don't keep any tension.
  3. When brushing teeth, drinking tea etc, don't let the head poke forwards. Keep the back of the neck "open" - a relaxed version of the position in the wall exercise.

The second tip relates to movement. Many joints and muscles have, regardless of good or bad positioning overnight, simply not been moved through much of a range! Let's get them moving again gently. While waiting for a kettle to boil you can do some gentle heel raises, ankle circles, full circle shoulder rolls and any gentle stretches you feel necessary. Fully straighten the knees, elbows, fingers etc. Move!

The third tip relates to relaxation around the face and eyes. Get used to light slowly and keep the face and eyes as relaxed as possible while you do it. Suddenly switching a light on, or suddenly looking out of a sunny window without letting the eyes adjust first can lead to facial and eye tension. Try keeping eyes closed for a minute while you get used to sudden light. Focus on relaxation of the face.

The last tip is about rehydration. Make a point of slowly and fully rehydrating in the morning. A lot of water is lost overnight and if your mouth feels at all dry in the morning you are probably very much in need of good rehydration. Warm water is a good thing to sip on throughout the first hour of being up.