The ring of the alarm clock signals the beginning of a new day. Before you take on the daily pressures and demands of job and family, allow yourself a few moments to stretch and breathe. Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises taken from yoga and Pilates can energize you for the day ahead, while quiet movement meditation exercises help you connect to your body. A simple stretch of the foot arch is also useful for relieving and preventing heel pain.
The American Council on Exercise suggests a quick Pilates routine to energize you for the day ahead. You can do these exercises while you are still in bed, or if you prefer a harder surface, on the floor right beside your bed. Begin with rolling like a ball: Draw your legs to your chest and round your spine, roll back until your shoulder blades touch the bed, then roll back up, keeping your feet balanced slightly above the surface of the bed; repeat for a total of 10 times. This routine also incorporates Pilates moves called single-leg stretch, single-leg circles, windshield wiper and half roll back, all of which strengthen the abdominal muscles while they stretch the spine and hips.
As its name suggests, the yoga sun salutation series, or surya namaskar, is an excellent method of awakening the body each morning. In sun salutation, you flow through 12 yoga postures, warming up and strengthening muscles throughout the body. Begin in mountain pose, standing erect with feet about hip-distance apart. Continue into a hands-up then head-to-knees posture. From here you lower onto the floor through a lunge and plank position. From stick position on the floor, arise through upward dog and downward dog, back into lunge, head-to-knees and hands-up before returning to mountain pose.
Fitness expert Evamarie Pilipuf recommends that morning stretches be light and of short duration to help relieve stiffness and gently wake up the muscles. One useful morning exercise is the cat stretch -- from a hands and knees position, slowly move your back between flexion and extension. Another is the supine knee-to-chest stretch, in which you lie on your back and draw one knee to your chest until you feel a mild stretch in your back and buttocks, then repeat on the other leg. Both these stretches can be performed before you get out of bed.
Nearly 2.5 million Americans are troubled by a painful condition called plantar fasciitis, according to Medical News Today. A simple stretch of the plantar fascia, the tissue connecting the heel bone to the toes, can relieve pain and help sufferers avoid costly treatment. The exercise should be performed three times a day, including first thing in the morning before stepping out of bed. Sit with legs crossed, then stretch the arch of the foot of the crossed leg by pulling your toes back toward your shins; hold to the count of 10. Repeat the exercise 10 times on each foot.