Opening your eyes first-thing to realize you have a kink in your neck or back kinda gives a whole new meaning to “waking up on the wrong side of the bed.” You don’t have to go ahead and consider the day a wash, though. According to Keren Day, DC, a chiropractor and professional stretcher at Racked NYC, what you do next will make or break the time between now and your next sleep.
“A common mistake people make when they wake up with aches and pains from sleeping in the wrong position is overcompensating with intense stretching,” says Dr. Day. It may seem like a contradiction, but taking the edge off your sleep borne pain is all about smart, simple stretching. “While it might be satisfying in the moment, avoid pushing into the area that hurts to the point of pain when moving or stretching as it can cause even more irritation,” says Dr. Day.
Before you even think about doing a neck roll or a backstretch, though, Dr. Day recommends hopping in the shower. “This places systemic heat into the entire body and helps increase circulation through your body helping warm up the area that has become stiff,” she says. Once you’ve toweled off, going for an easy-peasy walk to relax your muscles and allow blood to flow throughout the entire body.
Then (and only then!) are you ready to stretch. Dr. Day says that you should feel (almost) brand-new after you caring for the agitate muscle. However, if you find that the pain doesn’t subside in 24 hours, or if you experience the same problem multiple times in a year, you should seek the help of a professional.
The stretches to help you feel better after you’ve slept wrong
If you slept on your shoulder wrong, try shoulder rolls
1. Start by sitting up straight with both feet planted firmly on the floor and your arms resting by your side. At the same time pull both of your shoulders up towards your ears.
2. Slowly open up the front of your chest by squeezing your shoulder blades together behind you. Press your shoulders down your spine and lengthen your neck away from your shoulders.
3. Repeat up, back, and down.
Repeat five times.
If you slept on your neck wrong, try neck circles
1. Gently drop your chin to your chest and start to bring your right ear towards your right shoulder.
2. Move slowly so that you can stretch and warm up all sides of your neck muscles. Once you feel that you are at your end range to the right, start to lift your chin up to the sky to open up the front of the throat.
3. Allow your muscles to move in a natural progression eventually bringing left ear to your left shoulder, stretching your right side and then bring your chin back to your chest.
Repeat three times in one direction, then switch.
If you slept on your back wrong, grab a foam roller
1. Grab a long foam roller or a rolled-up yoga mat and place it on the floor vertically.
2. Lie on your roller face up on your back, making sure it is aligned with your spine and that it is supporting your head. Tuck your chin slightly, bend your knees, and plant your feet on the floor.
3. Bend your elbows into right angles palms faced up. Make sure your arms are out straight 90 degrees and not slanted up at 45 degrees Let your shoulders sink back towards the floor, allowing gravity to help open up your entire upper body
Hold for no longer than three minutes.
4. If you slept on your arm wrong, target your rotator cuff
1. Sit up straight with your feet planted firmly below you.
2. Lift your right arm straight up and bend your right elbow, dropping your forearm behind your head, right palm grazing your right shoulder. Bend your left elbow behind your back and reach it up so that the top of your left hand grazes your back with your palm facing away from you.
3. Reach to clasp your right hand to your left and hook your fingers together, creating a stretch in your right external rotator cuff and your left internal rotator cuff. (Grab a towel if your hands can’t quite reach each other.)
Hold for five counts and slowly release your grip and then switch sides.
Pre-bedtime stretches to help you slow down:
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