Wiggle Yourself Awake

Most of you know that I’m a fan of literally leaping out of bed the moment that you wake up. As a matter of fact I recently wrote an article about that very thing: Jump Start Your Day. However, as we all know, some mornings are tougher than others. The day (or two) after a really tough strength training, long ride/run, or race I am pretty tore up and not only feel weaker but also am rarely in the mood to leap out of bed. This post is for those mornings.

Workouts aren’t the only reason for getting out of bed slowly… Sometimes you might be experiencing injuries or facing an illness. Also, as we get older, our bodies simply don’t respond the way they did when we were younger. On top of that, there will also just be days that you don’t feel like jumping out of bed. Regardless of the reason, I have a few tips on what you can do to help cheer you up and get you feeling great before you even lay a foot on the floor.

You might find that this is a fantastic way to wake every morning and start adapting your morning ritual to include this. Before we tackle this subject, let’s get the fitness disclaimer out of the way:

WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

I really do hate having to pop that disclaimer into each healthy post, but you know that it’s necessary for a rare few bozos out there that would blame me and others for their stupid decisions. There… I said it.

Let us begin! When I wake and feel sore or overly tired I almost always start my morning with a wiggle… Thar is to say, I do some calisthenics and stretching in bed, under the covers, before I even attempt to stand up. Here are the types of things that I do:

1. I stretch my ankles, toes, and feet. Because of peripheral neuropathy and a target joint, my feet and ankles give me some extra troubles first thing in the morning. So, when I first wake, I often stretch them carefully. After a minute of stretches, I do some deeper stretches, circles, and wiggles. This helps to get the blood flowing into your legs.

2. Flex my butt. Next, I like to tighten and loosen my gluteus maximus. At the same time I tighten and loosen my hamstrings and quadriceps as well. This is a focus on the big muscles of my body.

3. Calf raises. Finishing off the legs I do some simple moves for my calves. Note that we already hit them some during step one (ankles). Remember to hit all three primary calf muscles (gastrocnemius, soleus, and tibialis anterior). We hit the gastroc when our legs are straight, and we pull our toes toward our knees. The soleus is hit with the same flex of the foot and ankle, but while the knee is bent. Finally the tib (the front of our shin) is stretched when you push the toes down and away from the knee.

4. Repeat one through three on your arms, hands and wrists. Simply think of your arms, hands, chest, and shoulders in the same way you did your legs and repeat the routine.

5. Jiggle. That’s right… As I finish up my routine, I like to jiggle my body. Make sure to incorporate the core (abs and lower back) and get a good jiggle on. Vibrate throughout your body and make this a fun experience. This will really complete the blood flow sequence and get you ready to jump up.

6. Flip off the covers and leap! That’s it in a nutshell… Once I’ve woken my body, I leap out of bed feeling like a million bucks!

That’s how I do it. Now, I’d like to share some tips and pointers from my mom, Yahna Christensen, who does a more in-depth version as her body ages and struggles (especially during the morning hours). She calls her morning exercise “Rollercise” and this is what she had to say:

A little over 10 years ago I started recognizing when I stretched in bed immediately after waking the better I felt when I stood up, how I was able to think more clearly, and how I just really was smiling about the day ahead. So I started a regular routine. Over this last 10 years I have made some discoveries and have fine-tuned this wake up routine. Some of my discoveries and lessons learned are:

  • since there are different types of beds some soft some hard etc. I realize that some exercises are not well suited as they may be difficult or even cause more damage than good
  • if it involves lifting the head up, one must be sure that the lift doesn’t come from the head rather from the stomach
  • the First Alert the body needs is to do some deep breathing which I do with my hands above my head … half of the breath into the diaphragm and then pull that diaphragm breath along with the rest of the inhale up into your shoulders… I repeat this 10 times and then start my routine
  • most of my exercises involve a gentle rolling motion… as soon as I finish breathing I put my hands behind my knees and just roll from side to side not very far just a slight roll I started with 10 and now I do 50 of these each morning…which really wakes up the spine. then I proceed with a dozen or so other exercises.
  • my biggest discovery was that if I skipped a day my body quickly went back to unstable, blurred mind, and a so-so attitude for that day, so not having that really great feeling is a tremendous incentive helping me to look forward to my body wake up routine
  • I am currently in the process of capturing this routine as I have had so many ask me to write a book so that they too can get the daily benefits. My goal for the book is to have it done by March 11th, 2014.

    -Yahna

     

    Just like the engine of an automobile, your body needs to warm up before getting out into the day. Think of this as some pointers on how to warm up your body’s engine prior to tackling the day.

    Let me know what you do to get yourself warmed up, stretched, and ready to do the day’s tasks. Please comment and give me some additional pointers that might help me!

    Thank you very much for reading,
    Vaughn

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    About Vaughn Ripley

    Vaughn is a happily married daddy, author, and CIO. He is an HIV+ hemophiliac, and is one of the longest surviving HIV+ people in the universe.
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    Comments

    1. What if you wake up at 4:00 but you’ve set your alarm for 5:30? I’m finding I’m doing this a lot and I and up going back to sleep and wake up at 5:30 completely exhausted. Should I jiggle myself out of bed at 4:00 or 530? My main problem is I know if I get up at four I’ll be tired later in the day, so I get up then. But usually my mind starts and I toss and turn for that next hour and a half.

      • Raeghn, this happens to me sometimes too what seems to work for me is to do the deep breathing ( sometimes increasing it from 10 up to 15 or 20 good breaths) and the spine roll and leave it at that. My body is then more relaxed with just these two and I then seem to fall back asleep very peacefully. Then when I wake up at 5:30 I go through my wake up routine, including beginning with the breathing and the spine rolls again

      • Hi Rags!

        This is a totally different issue. You might consider going ahead and waking anyway and doing things you want (like exercise, writing, work, whatever). Then, you will be tired earlier, but your body will adapt. If you keep your same bedtime, your body should naturally start letting you sleep longer because it needs it. Basically, your sleep rhythms (REM pattern) has you right on the border of awake at 4 a.m. This is actually good news, because your pattern is probably 90 minutes; which puts your next “border of awake” at 5:30. Your body just needs to be a hair more ready for the sleep through 4 and you should be good to go.

        I read an article a few years ago about an ultra-marathon guy who did his running when he woke in the middle of the night. That’s another option for you. HA!

        <3,
        V

    2. Andddd you manage to do all this without waking up your wife? Impressive.

    3. Vaughn, I wake every day with strangely scrunched up feet, which are painful on first step. My husband wakes up with aches and pains all over which makes him so irritable – not a great way to start the day! We are both going to try your stretches and hopefully will have a fabulous weekend!

      • Hi Janice,

        Sorry to hear about you and your husbands feet and aches… I do believe you will be pleasantly surprised if you give this a go. By all means, please chime in after a few days or so and let me (us) know how it works out.

        Cheers,
        Vaughn

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