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4 morning stretches you should do every day for achy shoulders, tight hips, stiff back


It’s not the most glamorous part of your workout, but a stretching routine is just as important as your strength training.

I know a lot of you don’t stretch because you either think that stretching is useless or you’re not sure which stretches are effective.

To that first point, stretching IS very useful. A full body stretch routine can break up muscle knots, alleviate soreness, and reduce your risk of injury.

Now, if you don’t know which stretches to do, I’m here to help.

I want to show you four stretches that you should do every morning.

While we sleep we are inadvertently reinforcing the muscle tension and tightness that we’ve developed from the day before.

Why is the morning one of the best times to stretch?

You may not realize this, but while we sleep we are inadvertently reinforcing the muscle tension and tightness that we’ve developed from the day before.

When you work out, your muscles tend to heal and shorten overnight. Then you wake up with tight muscles.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Let’s review the most common sleeping postures that cause tight muscles, the benefits of stretching, and the perfect morning stretching routine to get you loose and limber.

4 stretches you should do every morning


What are some of the problems when you sleep?

There are four sleeping postures that most of us tend to wind up in throughout the night. Each one can worsen muscle tightness.


First up, if you’re a side sleeper, you’re going to deal with internal rotation of the shoulder.


When you look at the position of your arm under the pillow, it’s usually propped up. This is what leads to that internal rotation tightness in your shoulder.

sleeping with your arm under the pillow causes internal rotation and tightness of the shoulder

If you sleep on your side with your arm under or on top of the pillow you could be creating some internal rotation tightness in the shoulder.

We want to make sure we address that.

Side sleepers also have another issue:

They tend to put their left knee on top of their right knee, squeeze their legs together, and stack their left ankle with their right ankle (or vice versa).

Sleeping with bent knees causes tight hip flexors and adductors

If you sleep in fetal position with your knees pulled up and pressing against each other, you could be getting some hip flexor and adductor tightness.

This is going to cause hip flexor muscle tightness and hip adductor muscle tightness, which means your hip muscle flexibility is going to be negatively affected.


Maybe you’re a stomach sleeper.

stomach sleeping with arms under head causes internal rotation of shoulders

If you sleep on your stomach with your arms beneath your head, you’re creating internal rotation of the shoulders. The feet pointing down also causes tight calf muscles.

Just like I discussed above, your arms are up and underneath your head. What is that going to cause?

Internal rotation of the shoulders.

But that’s not all it causes.

If you’re lying on your stomach, your feet are going to be pointed downward, which is going to tighten up your calves.


The same thing happens even if you’re on your back.

Your ankles are getting pulled down by the sheets.

back sleeping can cause calf stiffness and stretching of thoracic spine

If you sleep on your back the sheets may be pushing down your ankles creating calf stiffness. If your head is propped up it can cause a stretching of the thoracic spine.

Not to mention that when you have your head and neck propped up, your thoracic spine gets stretched out.

You need to be able to extend through that.



Before I jump into the daily routine, I want to make the case for stretching.

Why should you do this daily stretch routine each morning? Well, there are several key benefits.


Studies show that a consistent stretching routine can help to alleviate soreness and pain, especially from a workout.


Continuing with that thought, stretching might help to reduce your risk of injury.

Admittedly, there isn’t a solid scientific consensus on this one – experts aren’t ALL sold on the idea.

However, it’s safe to say that, assuming you don’t overdo it, stretching won’t increase your risk for injury.


Consistently using a combination of dynamic stretching and static stretching, which is exactly what I cover below, can help to increase your range of motion.

These types of stretching help with overall flexibility training, mobility, and your ability to perform exercises in general.

Dynamic stretches (active stretches) entail performing an active movement, focusing on the major muscles you’ll target in the workout. For example, if you are performing barbell squats, you would want to do bodyweight squats.

Static stretches are those movements you hold in place for 30 to 60 seconds. Taking your arm across your chest and holding it there is an example of a static stretch.


Dynamic stretches, or those stretching exercises that involve actively moving the muscle, can help to improve your athletic performance.

The mental benefits from flexibility exercises also need some attention. When you’re not worried about tight muscles and perform at your best, you’re going to feel like you’re at the top of your game.


Let’s jump into the best stretching exercises for each type of sleeper.

Just a quick note, these stretching movements might cause some discomfort, but they shouldn’t cause pains. If they hurt, you might be overextending.

Each one should start as a comfortable stretch allowing you to move into a deeper stretch.

If these stretches do a lot for you, consider making stretching a part of your weekly workout with yoga or a legit stretching program.

Anyway, let’s get to it with these types of stretches.

It starts off right away with dynamic stretches.


I want you to start off with hamstring muscles BUT that doesn’t mean you need to stretch them for an hour.

The hamstrings can be chronically tight, but you also want to avoid overstretching tight hamstrings. With that said, five reps of this are all it takes.

You’re going to focus on two things with this classic stretch: get through the hamstrings and learn the hip hinge.

The truth is that most people don’t hip hinge enough.

Whenever most people try to bend down, they tend to bend from the knees. We DON’T want that. What we want to learn how to do is bend from the hips, and this excellent stretch helps with that.

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Daily Stretching Routine

Starting position is with your feet shoulder width apart, feet flat on the floor and get into an anterior pelvic tilt. Try to tilt your pelvis forward, arch your low back, and then slide down with your hands down your knees, and come back up.

Do NOT just bend forward at the waist. Drive your hips backward then slide down with your hands.

You’ll feel a nice stretch on your hamstrings if you do this right.

Again, perform five solid repetitions before moving on to the next stretch.



Your next stretching exercise continues where the hip hinge leaves off.

In standing position with your feet flat and feet hip distance apart, slide your hands down your legs and past your ankles, straight down to the ground. Place them on the floor.

Put your palms down, fingers backward. Drive your right and left elbow into your legs. Then push your thighs into the back of your elbows.

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deep squat groin stretch

This stretches out your forearms, which tend to get tight if you’re typing a lot throughout the day. You’ll also stretch out your upper arms.

But most importantly, this one stretches out the groin muscle. Just by being in this position here, you’ll target your groin and hip flexors.

Remember to keep your chest muscles up, thoracic extension, and heels down.

Stay in this gentle stretch for about 30 seconds. Give yourself a few seconds to rest before moving to the next one.


For this next stretch, you’ll need some kind of stick like a broom.

Now, put that stick to your side and drop down moving one leg back. Place your hands on the top of the stick.

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overhead leaning lunge stretch

This hip opening stretch is going to target your hip flexors like you wouldn’t believe.

But we can make this even more intense by getting spinal rotation in this direction and leaning toward the side of the leg that is out in front.

Again, stay with this complete stretch for about 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.


I saved this excellent stretching exercise for last. This one moves to your upper body.

This stretch is going to target your back and shoulders in a big way.

First, put your right foot flat on the ground in front of you. Hold the stick from the last stretch in your right hand. Put the stick over your shoulder and let it rest against the middle of your bicep. Now, move the bottom part of the stick to the inside of your thigh.

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Daily Stretching Routine

As you move your thigh forward, you’ll experience a nice external rotation of the arm. From here, reach across with the other hand and hook your left pinky onto the right pinky.

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pinkies hooked

Finally, rotate and lean backward slightly. Immediately, you’ll feel a maximal stretch through the thoracic spine.

This is a deep stretch that you’ll love… even though it hurts so good.

As before, hold this for 30 seconds on the right side, and then 30 seconds on the other side with the left foot in front.

Guys, the truth is that you should be stretching every day… period.

Full-body stretching is going to help you avoid muscle strain, but it also prevents muscle shortness and tightness. In other words, you’re going to feel great, but only if you’re as consistent with stretching as you are your workouts.

If you’re looking for a complete program that helps you to not just feel loose, but get strong, ripped and athletic at the same time, check out our ATHLEAN-X programs. Find the program that best matches your goals using our Program Selector and start training like an athlete today with me as your personal trainer and strength coach!


  1. Waking up feeling stiff is extremely common, especially if you work out the day before. In order to get loose and limber, all you need to do is perform these four stretching exercises.
  2. Start with five repetitions of the hip hinge. This will stretch out both the hamstrings and hip flexors.
  3. From the hip hinge, drop down into a deep squat position with your hands between your legs and flat on the floor. Turn your hands away from you with your fingers pointed backwards. This will stretch out the forearms, finger flexors, biceps, groin, and hip flexors.
  4. Next, you’ll do an overhead leaning lunge stretch. Grab a stick and place it on the outside of your forward leg. Drop the opposite leg behind you, then reach up with both hands and lean to enhance the stretch. This one will also target your hip flexors.
  5. Finally, you’ll perform the standing shoulder stretch. Place the stick on the outside of your bicep and on the inside of your thigh. Grab the top with both hands, rotate and lean backward. This one is amazing for your back and shoulders.
  6. Perform each of these stretches for about 30 seconds on each side every morning. A few minutes can make a tremendous impact on how you feel each day.


Daily stretching is ideal, and a great time to do so is to make it part of your morning routine before you even grab that cup of coffee. We can often wake up with muscle aches caused by muscle shortening due to the position we sleep in. A five-minute exercise routine in the morning is often enough to help with muscle relief.

Be sure to make a morning stretch part of your exercise plan.  It's a great low impact activity that helps get blood flowing throughout the body constricted muscles and eases muscle soreness. The physical benefits are absolutely worth it!

Start with a gentle morning stretch and work your way up to a more intense stretch as you get stronger and your muscles begin to loosen up. If you have poor posture throughout the day, it's a good idea to do short gentle stretches each time you get up from sitting.

It's great to make stretching part of your daily morning routine before you begin your daily activities. Morning stretches have several health benefits including increasing blood circulation through your entire body and connective tissues, healthy muscle function, relief from muscle soreness from intense workouts, relaxation and injury prevention. Even just a 5 minute stretch can have enormous benefits.

You'll want to do some simple stretches for a full-body stretching routine, like a cat stretch, cow stretch, neck stretch, chest stretch, quad stretch and calf stretch, but you should also do different stretches depending on the position you sleep in.  Each sleeping position creates tightness in different muscles so you'll want to use the exact stretches that most benefit you specifically.

Before you begin your stretches, take a few deep breaths and then get started.  If you have any chronic conditions, it's best to seek medical advice from a healthcare professional or physical therapist to come up with an individual stretch program for you and your physical ability level.

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Jeff Cavaliere Headshot

Jeff Cavaliere M.S.P.T, CSCS

Jeff Cavaliere is a Physical Therapist, Strength Coach and creator of the ATHLEAN-X Training Programs and ATHLEAN-Rx Supplements. He has a Masters in Physical Therapy (MSPT) and has worked as Head Physical Therapist for the New York Mets, as well as training many elite professional athletes in Major League Baseball, NFL, MMA and professional wrestling. His programs produce “next level” achievements in muscle size, strength and performance for professional athletes and anyone looking to build a muscular athletic physique.

Read more about Jeff Cavaliere by clicking here

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