I get it. Your bed is cozy, comfortable, soft, soothing, and blissfully billowous. Warm. Seductive. A trap. I know, I’ve been there. But you’re in its soft snare now, and your work out pants are way the heck over there (where it’s cold, for pete’s sake), so what do you do?
Whether you’re extra sleepy or treating yourself or feeling depressed or otherwise ill, you can get moving without even getting up, or even getting out from under the covers!
Seriously. Do a work out in your bed.
This is for those of you (like me) who sometimes straight up can’t move, flattened by ill health or by circumstances, for those days when you really, really need some tiny accomplishment to check off your list so you feel less, y’know, crushed. And you’ve been meaning or trying to do that work out video, or use that gym membership, really you have, but that’s step #476 and you’re not even able to get much passed step #1, which is ‘regretfully, be something other than asleep’. You know exercise will help, but where the heck do you start?
Baby steps, my friends. You can start right where your days starts, right after step #2, which is ‘open your eyes and curse the light’. You don’t need fancy work out clothes (seriously, you can do this in the buff if that’s how you roll, no judging), you don’t need any equipment — you don’t even have to be able to stand up.
So what’s first? Well, the first thing is don’t do anything that hurts. That’s super important. These exercises shouldn’t be painful, so pay attention to your body, be gentle with yourself, and modify anything you need to make it comfortable and beneficial for you. Especially for those of you with a limited range of motion or an injury, you’ve got to take care.
Second? Take it slow. Even a few minutes of a little bit of movement is better than nothing, and I mean that. So just to get you woken up, warmed up a bit, breathing a little deeper, and moving with a little bit of purpose, let’s start with some basic and easy stretches:
Stretch 1 – Long Like a Line
Lie on your back, with or without your pillow under your head. Stretch your arms straight up above your head while pointing your feet straight down. Lengthen everything up and down, like your fingers and toes are being pulled towards opposite walls.
Breathe in deeply, stretching out your stomach and ribs. You may even clasp your hands and arch your back off the bed to get that last few inches of stretch. Then release and relax, enjoying the feeling of gravity gently smooshing you into the mattress. Relaxing in this position with your arms above your head opens up the shoulders and ribs.
Stretch 2 – Starfish Spreadeagle Spectacular
Lie on your back, with or without your pillow under your head. Stretch your arms straight out to either side while spreading your legs as far out to either side as you can. Lengthen everything side to side, like your arms and legs are all being pulled towards a different corner. You’re a star!
Continue to breathe in deeply, stretching your stomach and ribs. Turn your head gently to one side, then the other, feeling the stretch in your neck. Spread your fingers and toes fabulously wide (think jazz hands), feeling the stretch in your hands and feet. Spread out as much as you can, as flat as you can. Take over the whole bed. Then release and relax, enjoying the feeling of gravity gently smooshing you into the mattress. Relaxing in this position with your arms and legs out opens up the hips and chest.
Stretch 3 – Curled Up and Well Rounded
Lie on your back, with or without your pillow under your head. Bend your knees up towards your stomach, using your clasped hands to hold your legs close to your chest. Round your back and spread your shoulder blades away from each other. When you inhale, pull your stomach down towards your spine. When you exhale, gently pull your knees farther into your chest.
You may lift your head and tuck your chin into your chest, pulling your forehead towards you knees. This will help stretch the back of your neck, but make sure to keep your neck and face relaxed. Don’t strain anything.
Continue to breath in deeply, rounding your back as much as possible and stretching between your shoulder blades. Then release and relax, but keep gently holding your knees bent towards your chest. Enjoy the feeling of gravity gently smooshing you into the mattress. Relaxing in this position with your legs bent opens up your hips. You may move your knees in small circles to find new angles of stretch.
Stretch 4 – With a Twist
Try this one without your pillow. Lay your arms out to either side, in line with your shoulders. Bend your knees up until your feet are flat on the bed and your heels are close to your butt. Keeping your legs together as much as you can, slowly drop both your knees to one side while keeping your shoulders flat on the bed. You can turn your head to the opposite side from your knees if you want a stretch for your neck.
Continue to breathe in deeply, making sure to keep everything relaxed. Enjoy the gravity smooshing you into the bed for a while in this twist position, then slowly switch to the other side. Relaxing in this spiral position stretches the lower spine and chest, as well as the side/butt of your top leg.
You may adjust how tucked in your knees are when you drop them to the side to get different angles of stretch. Bringing your knees closer to your chest and then twisting will stretch out the side/butt of your top leg more. Placing your feet farther down away from your butt and then twisting will stretch your back more.
Stretch 5 – Literally Anything You Want
Once you’ve warmed up a bit, you can improvise. Did the stretches above not quite hit that stiff spot you always get? Go ahead and create your own undercover stretches that satisfy your unique pangs and twinges.
Rotate your ankles and wrists clockwise, then counterclockwise. Point and flex your hands and feet. Flutter kick your legs. Make circles with your arms. Put your pillow under/on top/in between different parts of your body to enhance your stretches.
Have you ever seen a dog or cat do that happy wiggle-dance? Where they lie on their backs on the carpet or in the grass and they squirm and shimmy in what seems like complete, doofy bliss? Yeah. Do that, if you want. You spent money on those sweet sheets and blankets, you can totally roll around in them like your crazy pet if that helps you get that last bit of stretch you need.
The bottom line is: As long as you keep breathing deeply and keep your movements gentle and small, do any stretch that feels good.
These stretches can be a nice way to ease yourself into wakefulness, or to soothe some aches and pains, or to rev up a fuzzy mind and a tired body.
The last thing you need to do is give yourself a pat on the back. If you can reach, do it literally, since that’s also a good stretch. You just Did A Thing! Check it off your to-do list. Let yourself feel a little satisfaction. Like I said above, some movement is far better than none, so job well done!
Not satisfied with stretches alone? Ready for the next phase of your undercover workout? Next time I’ll elucidate upon the excellent extra exercises you can do while en-snugged.