Stretching each day benefits overall health.
Muscles, tendons, and ligaments are essential to movement.
If any of these become injured, then mobility is greatly decreased.
Whether the injury is small or significant, it can make everyday tasks like driving, walking, and even sitting a challenge.
According to a recent Livestrong article titled “Want to Age Well? Do This Every Night Before Bed,” stretching daily can reduce the risk of injury and improve your physical functioning.
If you do not currently incorporate stretching into your daily routine, try doing these simple exercises before bed.
Your body will likely feel tired and sore in certain areas, especially if you did cardio or weight training during the day.
You should focus on these tight muscles.
If you exercised your legs, you would likely want to rest these muscle groups from weight training (do not forget “leg day”!) and should instead gently stretch your glutes, hips, hamstrings, and quads.
Generally, a good muscle group to focus on before bed are the psoas muscles, regardless of whether you have specifically exercised this region before.
These muscles are located in your lower back and also extend to the femur through the floor of the pelvis.
Why is stretching this group of muscles before bed helpful?
The psoas muscles attach to the vagus nerve through the medial arcuate ligament and the diaphragm.
The vagus nerve is connected to the parasympathetic nervous system and impacts relaxation when activated.
What are good stretches for the psoas?
Great options include the modified extended side angle pose, the glute bridge, and the runner’s lunge.
Other good options for stretching prior to bed include the bear hug, the child’s pose, the kneeling lat stretch, neck stretches, the legs-up-the-wall pose, the reclining bound angle pose, and the seated forward bend.
Choosing five to 10 stretches and holding them for about 30 to 60 seconds each will help with stress relief, relaxation, and recovery.
When stretching, your intensity level should be about 60 percent of what would be your maximum stretch.
Do not go overboard, or you could pull something (or worse) and torpedo that good night’s sleep you are seeking.
Essentially, you should find the first point where you feel discomfort in the stretch and then reduce the stretch until the point where the discomfort is no longer present.
Incorporating stretching before bed can help your body rest and recover well from a long day.
I find that when I follow my “before bed” stretching routine, I do have more deep sleep, REM sleep, and am less restless.
These results are corroborated by my sleep results as recorded on my Garmin Venu 2 wearable.
FYI, the link to the Livestrong article itself has video links to these “before bed” stretches and more.
Reference: Livestrong (June 1, 2023) “Want to Age Well? Do This Every Night Before Bed”