My Morning Routine

Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You wake up. Get out of bed. Go to the bathroom/shower/toilet. You eat your breakfast. And then you go to work…

Does this roughly sound like your daily morning routine?

Humans… We are creatures of habit…

The question is: Is your habit helping you?


What if I told you that all you need is a spare 10 minutes in the morning and you can improve your posture?


Think about it this way:

10 minutes a day, that’s 70 minutes a week, 280 minutes a month.

That’s equates to 56 hours of pure exercise every single year!

If you have a spare 10 minutes in the morning, I’d highly recommend that you dedicate it to the following exercises.

The 9 steps in my morning routine:


I’ll be the first to admit – this is not an exhaustive list of exercises that will guaranty instant posture correction.

It gives you a quick and simple strategy to target the main areas most people have difficulty with their posture.

(Of course – if you are looking for more specific exercises, this whole website is dedicated to that!)


1. Exercises + Warm shower

Showers aren’t just for keeping clean.

The heat from the warm water does an excellent job at relaxing your tight muscles.

Whilst you are in there, why not do some exercises?

These simple (but effective) exercises are designed to loosen up your neck and shoulder region.

a) Neck rolls

Video from RehabMyPatient.

Instructions:

  • Perform half neck rolls to each side.
    • Go slow!
  • Aim to move your neck as much as you comfortably can.
  • Repeat 5 times to each side.
  • Note: You can perform full neck rolls if it is comfortable for you.

b) Lateral neck bend

Video from Ryan Kennedy.

Instructions:

  • Gently tilt your head from side to side.
  • Aim to feel a gentle pull on the side of your neck.
  • Repeat 5 times to each side.

c) Neck retraction

Video from Ryan Kennedy.

Instructions:

  • Gently slide your chin backwards.
    • Think about the movement like a book sliding back into to the shelf.
  • Keep your head horizontal.
  • Aim to feel a pulling sensation at the back of your neck.
  • Perform 5 repetitions.

d) Shoulder circular shrugs

Video from MyPhysioRehab.

Instructions:

  • Keep your neck relaxed at all times.
    • If it helps, look slightly downwards.
  • Shrug your shoulders up towards your ears.
  • Pull your shoulders back.
  • Pull the shoulders down.
  • Repeat 20 times.

Note: If you are not keen on taking a shower in the morning for whatever reason, consider using other forms of heating such as hot packs and/or deep heat cream.


2. Posterior line stretch

Posterior line stretch

Instructions:

  • Sit down.
  • With your hands inter clasped behind your head, slowly pull your neck and torso forward.
  • Aim to feel a deep stretch between the neck and lower back region.
  • Hold this stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds.

3. Torso rotations

Instructions:

  • Whilst sitting, twist your torso from side to side.
  • Repeat 5 times to each side.
  • Note: You may feel a few cracks in your spine. (This is just the release of pressure in your tight joints!)

4. Spinal control

Instructions:

  • Assume the crawling position (as above).
  • Transition between these positions:
    • Position 1: Arching the spine
    • Position 2: Rounded the spine
  • Repeat 5 times.

5. Chest stretch

Chest stretch

Instructions:

  • Place both arms on a door frame.
  • Lunge forward.
  • Aim to feel the stretch across your chest muscles.
  • Hold for at least 30 seconds.

6. Side stretch

Instructions:

  • Whilst standing, place your hand on the hip of the same side.
  • Push your hip towards the opposite side.
  • Reach over with the other hand as you tilt the torso.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the side of your torso.
  • Repeat 5 times on each side.

.

7. Hip flexor stretch

hip flexor stretch

Instructions:

  • Assume the lunge position as above.
  • Tuck your tail bone underneath you.
    • (posterior tilt of the pelvis)
  • Lean slightly backwards.
  • You should feel a deep stretch at the front of your hip of the leg that is at the back.
  • Hold for a minimum of 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on other side.

8. Glute activation

… Also referred to as “waking up your butt muscles”.

The amount of sitting that you are doing on a daily basis is likely causing your butt muscles to weaken (… which can affect your posture!).

Instructions:

  • Start in the 4 point kneel position.
  • Lift opposite arm and leg at the same time (see above).
  • Aim to hold for 3 seconds.
  • Repeat 5 times on each side.
  • Note: You MUST aim to feel the butt muscles contract in order for this exercise to be helpful.

Since a majority of us have weak or inhibited glutes, I have dedicated a whole blog post on it.

Check it out over here: Is sitting destroying your butt muscles?


9. Posture control

shoulder retraction

This is a yoga position called the Utkatasana.

It has a direct translation of “Powerful posture”. (…with a name like that, it must be good for your posture!)

It activates and strengthens all your postural muscles… the very same muscles that you should be using whilst sitting down at work all day.

Stronger your postural muscles, the better your posture will be!

Key points with Utkatasane:

  • Keep your back straight.
    • Be careful not to puff your chest out.
  • Hinge forward at the hip.
    • (The more you lean forward, the harder this exercise will be.)
  • Keep your arms in line with your body.
  • Remain lengthened throughout the spine.
    • (Imagine someone gently pulling your head upwards.)
  • Keep your chin gently tucked in.
  • Hold this position for as long as you can tolerate.

Conclusion:

Create a habit of excellence!

Start your day with your postural muscles primed by doing this morning routine.


What to do next:

1. Any questions?… Leave me a comment down below.

2. Come join me on the Facebook page. Let’s keep in touch!

3. Start doing the exercises.

About

I am a physiotherapist who has personally experienced the pain as a result of bad posture. I would like to offer you some of the solutions that I and my patients have greatly benefited from.

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17 thoughts on “My Morning Routine

  1. Hi Mark, Thank you for sharing your knowledge. After MRI, that showed nothing, acupuncture, chiropractic care, cupping, needling, physical therapy and doing exercises regularly, I still suffer from a stiff neck. My left arm and hand are numb every morning when I wake up. My neck gradually feels better after doing exercises. I’m very conscious of my posture and wear a strap to keep my shoulders back. My left arm has little strength. This has been going on for two years and seems to be getting worse instead of better. Any idea what I can do that I’m not already doing? Appreciate any advice!

    1. Hey Tasha,

      I would check to see if you have Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS).

      This is a condition where the nerve from the neck is irritated/compressed around the intersecting area of the neck and shoulder. (see image)

      This can cause arm referred symptoms (such as numbness) and is generally not detected by a cervical spine MRI.

      One of the findings with people who have TOS is Drooping shoulders. (See image)

      Do you have this?

      Mark

  2. I’m using cervical traction spinal posture pump in the morning as recommended by my chiropractor. I would also start following these posture exercises. Thanks for these exercises.

  3. Preach it! I see patients in my Seattle chiropractic office every day who are suffering from fatigue, tension headaches, muscle strains, back pain and other chronic health problems affecting the musculoskeletal, circulatory, cardiovascular, and digestive systems due to poor posture. Postural correction is part of all my treatment plans. Good posture helps resolve my patients’ pain and other symptoms and improves their mood, concentration, energy, and self-image.

  4. 100% agree that habits are the root cause of almost all posture problems. And how important it is to have good habits to correct that, like a morning routine.
    The neck retraction is one I like the most, simply because I can feel the impact since I’ve abit of forward head posture. Using fingers for assistance is really helpful too!
    Doing a morning routine every day is tough for me so I try and do it every other day.
    Thanks mark and keep up the good work!

  5. Thank you for all of the content! I have trouble with the posterior line stretch, my middle and lower back won’t seem to bend that way and it becomes painfull. Is there anything I can do to get more flexible?

    Thank you!
    Rosemary

    1. Hi Rosemary,

      If it is actual pain that you are experiencing, I would not apply too much downward pressure on your neck. Go gentle 🙂

      If it tightness that you are feeling, it may be a good idea to keep doing the same exercise… but slowly ease your way into the stretch as the muscles release.

      Mark

  6. What if I can’t stretch my arms so high that they’re in alignment with my back? Is it okay to only lift them as high as is comfortable?

  7. Good stuff Mark,
    feeling straighter already. Going to do this morning routine everyday. Let you know how I get on!
    I am a vet and do a lot of driving. Neck and shoulders get caught up a lot

  8. Hi mark, i was suffering from this annoying shoulder pain for almost 3 months and thanks to your exercises am much better now.I can go back to work with your helpful direction how to set up your work station.

    Once again thanks a lot

    Zaynah

  9. Thanks so much Mark. I was thrown off a horse in my 30’s and as a result have a tendency to flare up my right shoulder complex. I’ve been aware that my flare ups are posture related. NO ONE has been as helpful as your print out “Shoulder Blade Pain: 10 Steps to get Rid of It” Totally wonderful. You are truly a God send for me. I can stop running to chiropractors, doctors, PT ‘s as this exercise program has nipped my symptoms. I’ve worked in geriatric rehab for 35 years and have bits and pieces of info but NOTHING like what you set up!!!!! I will be signing up for your email, hoping this is not given out so I get more emails from who knows who. Thanks so much!!!
    Linda

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